Huskers Host Roadrunners for Three-Game Series
Nebraska (27-15, 8-7 Big Ten) vs. CSU Bakersfield (18-19, Independent)
Friday - Kyle Kubat, Fr., LHP (2-0) vs. Spenser Messmore, Sr., RHP (3-3)
Saturday - Brandon Pierce, So., RHP (5-1) vs. Jeff McKenzie, Jr., LHP (3-4)
Sunday - Zach Hirsch, So., LHP (4-3) vs. TBA
This Week: The Nebraska baseball team (27-15, 8-7 Big Ten) hosts its final non-conference series of the season this weekend when the CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners (18-19) visit Hawks Field. The two teams have met one other time, as the Roadrunners took 2-of-3 from the Huskers in Lincoln during the 2009 season.
The Huskers improved to 2-0 on the year against the Creighton Bluejays with a 4-1 win over the Jays at TD Ameritrade Park on Tuesday night, while the Roadrunners fell at Cal State Northridge, 5-2. CSU Bakersfield enters Friday with a 5-13 road record and has only played five games outside the state of California this season, including two games in Las Vegas, Nev., and three games in Seattle, Wash.
The series kicks off on Friday night at 6:35 p.m. with freshman lefty Kyle Kubat taking the mound for the Huskers against senior righty Spenser Messmore. NU is scheduled to throw Brandon Pierce on Saturday and Zach Hirsch on Sunday, while the CSU Bakersfield is scheduled to throw lefty Jeff McKenzie on Saturday, while its Sunday starter is yet to be announced. Saturday's game is set for a 2:05 p.m. first pitch and the series concludes on Sunday at 12:05 p.m.
Tickets: Single-game tickets can be purchased at Huskers.com, by calling 1-800-8BIGRED or by visiting the Nebraska Athletic Ticket Office across the street from Memorial Stadium. Tickets can also be purchased on game day at the Hawks Field box office, which is located on the third-base side of the stadium. Fans are encouraged to purchase their tickets prior to game day.
Television: Saturday's game will be shown across the state of Nebraska on the NET and will be streamed live on BTN.com (subscription required). Both Friday and Sunday's games will be streamed live on HuskersNSide (subscription required).
On the Radio: Fans across Nebraska and around the world can listen Greg Sharpe, Jeff Culhane and Lane Grindle call all of the action on the Husker Sports Network - including KLIN 1400 AM in Lincoln - and on the Internet at Huskers.com or the Official Husker App. A complete list of HSN affiliates can be found on page 9.
Scouting CSU Bakersfield
The CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners became a full NCAA Division I member before the start of the 2010-11 academic year after moving from Division II in 2006. The baseball program opened its first season in 2009, with Bill Kernen in his fourth season as the team's head coach.
Last season the Roadrunners posted five wins over nationally ranked teams, including a win over defending national champion South Carolina. CSUB also downed No. 10 Arizona State, No. 13 UCLA, No. 17 UC Irvine, and No. 19 Fresno State.
After going 33-22 a year ago, the Roadrunners had four players picked in the first 20 rounds of the MLB Draft and are one game below .500 this season with a 18-19 record.
The Roadrunners have won 11 of their last 16 games, including a six game winning streak from March 31 to April 7. Eight of the Roadrunners 19 losses on the year came in March when they lost eight straight to USC, Fresno State and Washington, all on the road. Other than that eight-game slide, the Roadrunners haven't lost more than two-game in a row this season and are coming off a 5-2 loss to Cal State Northridge.
Offensively, infielder Oscar Sanay leads the team with a .338 batting average and a team-high 48 hits. Cael Brockmeyer (.318) and Frank Martinez (.304) are the other two Roadrunners with an average over .300, while as a team the Roadrunners are hitting .264 on the year.
CSUB has produced 15 home runs on the year, including a team-high five from Brockmeyer. Martinez and DC Legg each have three, while Stuart Smith is the only other Roadrunner with more than one home run with two.
Brockmeyer also leads the team in RBI's with 24 and is one of two Roadrunners with 20+ RBI's on the year, with Tyler Shryock having 20.
On the base paths the Roadrunners haven't been a serious threat with 21 steals in 30 attempts and they have just 18 sacrifice bunts on the year. Jordie Hein leads the team with six steals, while Oscar and Andrew Letourneau each have five steals.
In 37 games the Roadrunners have struck out 276 times, an average of 7.46 K's per game, while only walking 117 times, an average of 3.16 per game.
On the mound the Roadrunners have a team ERA of 3.43 and have posted 225 strikeouts. Kernan has only announced his Friday and Saturday starters
Senior Spenser Messmore will take his 3-3 record and 1.78 ERA to the mound on Friday against Kyle Kubat. In 16 appurtenances this year Messmore has started four games, including three complete games. Over 50.2 innings, Messmore has given up 25 runs (10 earned) on 53 hits and 11 walks.
Jeff McKenzie will start on Saturday and is tied for the team lead in starts and has throw three complete games, including one shutout, while posting a 3-4 record and a 2.13 ERA. In a team-high 71.2 inning of work, the lefty has given up just 25 runs (17 earned) on 66 hits and 22 walks, while striking out 46.
McKenzie is yet to give up a home run this year and have been tagged for just eight doubles and one triple, while opponents are hitting .258 on the year.
National Team Notes
The Huskers entered the week ranked in the top-25 nationally in six categories, including top-five ranking in hits and runs scored.
Through April 22, the Huskers rank eighth in the country in hits (451) and are fifth in runs (309).
NU sits 10th nationally with 7.5 runs per game and is 16th in batting average with a team average of .314.
The Huskers are also ranked in the top-25 in slugging (18th - .452), home runs (21st - 34).
Defensively, the Huskers are 25th nationally with a .975 fielding percentage and are 19th in double plays with 40 twin killings.
National Individual Notes
Four Huskers hold a top-50 ranking through April 15.
Michael Pritchard holds the highest ranking of any Huskers, as his ratio of one strikeout every 18.3 at bats ranks 22nd nationally. Stony Brook's Maxx Tissenbaum leads the country with a K every 43.7 at bats.
Junior Rich Sanguinetti is 25th in the country in sacrifice bunts with 11.
Josh Scheffert ranks 35th in the country with a .643 slugging percentage and is also 99th in home runs with a team-high seven.
Senior Kale Kiser is 41st in the country with 13 HBP's. Kiser is also just outside of the top 50 in walks with his 28 walks ranking 68th nationally.
Transfer Richard Stock has been a welcome addition to the Husker offense in 2012. The junior from Westlake Village, Calif., is second on the team with a .377 average, leads the team with 14 doubles and is tied for the lead in triples with two.
Stock came to the Huskers as a catcher, but has developed into the Huskers' primary first baseman, while also serving as Cory Burleson's backup at the plate.
During Big Ten play Stock has been even better at the plate, as he leads the Big Ten in batting average (.459), hits (28) and doubles (7) .
Last weekend against league-leader Purdue, Stock hit .667, including a 4-for-4 performance on Saturday and a 3-for-4 performance on Sunday. Stock hit one home and one double in the Huskers' win over the No. 16 Boilermakers on Saturday, before roping two doubles on Sunday. In 12 at bats over the weekend Stock had no strikeouts, while slugging 1.167 and had an on-base percentage of .667
Stock has produced three hits in a game eight times this year, including three times in his past four games. The junior also has eight multi-RBI games on the season
A 45th-round pick out of high school by the Brewers, Stock has found new life at Nebraska after playing his freshman season at USC and last season at Pierce College in Los Angeles.
I Wanna Be Like Mike
Sophomore Michael Pritchard enters Friday's game with an 19-game hitting streak, which is tied for the seventh longest streak by a Huskers since 1958. It is the longest streak by a Husker since Luke Gorsett's also had a 19-game hitting streak in 2006.
His current streak ties him with Gorsett, as well as Justin Cowan (2000) and current Associate Head Coach Will Bolt (2002).
Since 2000, current Nebraska Baseball Director of Operations Curtis Ledbetter holds the longest hitting streak at 23 games in 2003.
Francis Collins holds the NU school record with a 38-game hitting streak in 1996, while Ken Ramos is second with a 28-game streak and Derek Dukart is third with a hit in 25 straight games.
No statistics on hitting streaks prior to the Huskers joining the Big Eight Conference in 1958 are available.
50 Years Ago...
The Huskers' 1962 baseball team will be honored on Saturday at Hawks Field, with 14 players for the '62 squad scheduled to be in attendance.
The team will tour the Osborne Athletic Complex on Friday and have a reunion supper, before attending Friday's game.
After touring the Nebraska baseball facilities on Saturday, the team will be honored prior to Nebraska's game with CSU Bakersfield at 2:05 p.m. on Saturday.
Cory Cuts Them Down
Catcher Cory Burleson has been one of the most important cogs of the Husker defense this season with 17 runners caught stealing, which tops his season total of 14 from 2011.
The senior backstop has slowed down the opposition's running game, as team's have stolen just 11 bases in 28 attempts (.393) this season, with two of the eight steals coming from Illinois on a double steal.
During Big Ten play, Burleson has thrown out seven runners in 12 attempts.
Through April 25, Indiana's Kyle Schwarber (23) and Northwestern's Geoff Rowan (21) are the only catchers in the Big Ten with more runners thrown out than Burleson, but Schwarber has the second most steals allowed in the league with 33 and Rowan is tied for third with 26. Every other catch in the Big Ten has allowed 17 or more steals on the year, including seven who have allowed 20 or more and two with 30 or more.
Burleson has worked hard in the offseason to improve his game after allowing 26 steals in 40 attempts a year ago.
Setting the Pace
Sophomore Michael Pritchard has been one of the Huskers' most lethal weapons this season with a team-high .380 batting average, which ranks fourth in the Big Ten Conference.
Pritchard is also second on the team with a .443 on-base percentage, one point behind Kale Kiser's .444 on-base percentage.
What a Difference a Year
After struggling through a sophomore season that saw him hit .220 with four doubles, two home runs and 18 RBI's in 43 games, Josh Scheffert went back to the drawing board this summer and worked on his swing.
The Lincoln native's hard work has paid off so far in 2012, as he has been named Big Ten Player of the Week twice.
The junior is third on the team with a .373 average, while also producing a team-high seven home runs, as well as 10 doubles and 34 RBI's.
Scheffert has also been solid in the field at both corners of the diamond. He has just four errors on the season in 176 chances.Hard to Hit
Junior closer Travis Huber has been tough on opposing hitters during Big Ten play with a 0.00 ERA in 4.2 innings of work over four appearances.
During conference play, Huber has given up just four hits and one walk, while striking out six and holding opposing batters to a .211 average.
Overall, Huber holds a 2.75 ERA and seven saves in 18 appearances. In 19.2 innings, Huber has posted 17 strikeouts and given up six earned runs.
Freshman Pat Kelly has made a quick transition to college pitching, as the Red Wing, Minn., is fourth on the team with a .333 batting average and a slugging percentage of .552.
Kelly is even better with a teammate on base, hitting .380 on the season with 19 hits in 50 chances.
His biggest hit of the season came on Sunday, April 8, against Iowa, as he blasted a triple to the center field wall that scored two Huskers to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth inning. Kelly then scored the winning run on a walk-off single by Kale Kiser.
Kelly has hit throughout the Husker lineup and has produced 11 extra-base hits, including five doubles, two triples and four home runs. He has driven in 21 runs and scored another 19.
After battling through an early season groin injury, Kash Kalkowski has steadily returned to form for the Huskers.
Following his 13th game of the year against South Dakota State on March 13, Kalkowski was hitting .256 on the year with one home run, which came in the season opener against Gonzaga.
Since the game against the Jackrabbits, Kalkowski has played in 21 games and has raised his average to .310, while also hitting three home runs.
Texarkana CC transfer Rich Sanguinetti had been a key cog in the Husker offense this season. Hitting out of the two-hole in 38 of his 39 starts, Sanguinetti is hitting .325 on the year with a team-high 11 sacrifice bunts and is second on the team with 35 RBI's.
Helping the Pitching Staff
Through 42 games the Huskers have turned 40 double plays. NU is on pace to turn just over 54 double plays this season after only converting 35 a year ago.
Packing the Park
Through April 22 the Huskers rank 12th in the country in average home attendance with 3,542 fans per game and 13th in overall attendance with 85,023 fans through the gates at Hawks Field.
No other Big Ten team ranks in the top 45 of either category.
This past weekend against Purdue, the Huskers had their two largest crowds of the season with 6,257 fans on Saturday and 6,014 fans on Sunday. For the weekend, 16,979 fans piled into Hawks Field.
Home Sweet Hawks
The Nebraska baseball program is celebrating its 11th year at Hawks Field in 2012. The Huskers are 245-86-1 (.739) since opening the park on March 5, 2002 with a 23-1 win over Nebraska-Kearney.
Nebraska plays a total of 31 games at Hawks Field in 2012, and is 16-8 at Hawks Field this season.
Under the direction of Head Coach Darin Erstad and Associate Head Coach Will Bolt, the Nebraska offense has seen great improvement across the board from a year ago.
During conference play the Huskers are hitting .298 as a team, with three players hitting .300 or better, including a team-leading .459 average from Richard Stock.
In 2011, the Huskers hit .236 during conference play and just two players hit over .300, including Cody Asche (.351) and Michael Pritchard (.340).
Get on Top
Scoring the game's first runs has been important for the Huskers during Big Ten play.
In the first 15 games of the Big Ten schedule, the Huskers are 5-1 when taking the first lead of a game. When the opposition scores first, the Huskers are 3-6.
The only time during conference play that the Huskers have scored first and lost was in the series opener against Iowa on April 6. NU took a 2-0 lead into the fifth inning and lost the game, 4-3.
Tough With Two
The Huskers have come up with clutch hits all season with two outs, as 100 of the team's 282 RBI's have come with two outs. Leading the way is Chad Christensen, who has driven in 19 of his team-leading 38 RBI's with two outs. Last season Christensen played in all 55 games and totaled just four two-out RBI's.
Juniors Richard Stock, Josh Scheffert and Kash Kalkowski also each have double-digit two-out RBI's. Stock has 16 and Scheffert has 14, while Kalkowski has 13.
In 55 games a year ago the Huskers' totalled 91 two-out RBI's. All-American Cody Asche led the team with 16 two-out RBI's, while only three players had 10 or more on the year, including Asche, Kalkowski (14) and Bryan Peters (12).
Vogt of Confidence
Dylan Vogt has been the Huskers' go to man out of the bullpen with a 1.56 ERA in 19 appearances. The junior righty has worked 34.2 innings and struck out 21, while holding opponents to a .234 batting average.
Chicks Dig It
After hitting 30 home runs in 55 games last season, led by Cody Asche's 12 home runs, the Huskers have already surpassed last year's total with 34 home runs in 42 games this season.
In the Big Ten, Indiana is the only other program with more than 30 home runs with 30, while for other schools have more than 20.
Josh Scheffert leads the team with seven home runs and Chad Christensen is close behind with six. Michigan's Coley Crank leads the Big Ten with nine home runs and Penn State's Jordan Steranka is second with eight.
After starting three games at the beginning of the season, freshman Kyle Kubat has been a tough arm out of the bullpen for the Huskers during conference play.
In three appearances Kubat has a 0.90 ERA over 10.0 innings of work and is holing opposing batters to a .235 batting average. The 6-1 lefty has allowed eight hits and has given up three walks, while striking out six.
Kubat is schedule to make his four start of the season on Friday night against CSU Bakersfield.
Even though the Huskers lead the Big Ten Conference with 34 home runs through April 25, Nebraska has also put a lot of pressure on opposing defenses with their bunting.
On the year, the Huskers have 27 bunt singles through 42 games. In 55 games a year ago, the Huskers had just 16 bunt singles all season.
Chad Christensen, who is second on the team in home runs (6) and leads the team in RBI's (38), also leads the team with seven bunt singles in nine attempts.
Michael Pritchard is next with five bunts singles, while Bryan Peters has four. Cory Burleson and Rich Sanguinetti each have three bunt singles and Kurt Farmer has two
Overall, the Huskers are 27-for-35 (.771) when bunting for a base hit and also have 33 sacrifice bunts on the year. Rich Sanguinetti leads the team with 11 sacrifice bunts, which ties Iowa's Jacob Yancinich for the conference lead.
What a Fourth
The Huskers strongest inning this season has been the fourth, where they've outscored opponents 60-12. The Huskers didn't give up a run in the fourth inning until Illinois plated one run against the Huskers in the team's 25th game of the season on Saturday, March 24.
Looking at just the first eight innings of a game, Nebraska has outscored their opponents this season in every inning but the first, where they have just 17 runs on the year, while giving up 31.
In the first three innings of the game the Huskers hold a slim 89-85 advantage in runs, but they have destroyed opponent pitching their second time through the order in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings with a 136-51 advantage.
In the seventh and eighth innings the Huskers keep up the pressure and hold a 65-40 advantage, including 43 runs in the eighth alone.
Senior Kale Kiser is tough on opposing pitchers with his great eye at the plate. During his career at Nebraska, Kiser has walked 91 times and struck out just 66 times for a 1.38 walk/strikeout ratio.
Kiser is hitting just .243 on the season, but continues to get on base for the Huskers with a team-high .444 on base percentage. His team-high 28 walks are the fifth most in the Big Ten and his 13 HBP's are tops in the league.