Huskers Finish Non-Conference Play at Creighton
Probable Starters: RHP Tyler Niederklein (0-1) vs. RHP Matt Warren (2-2)
Radio: Husker Sports Network
Up Next for the Huskers
With four games to go in the 2013 regular season, the Nebraska baseball team (23-26, 14-7 Big Ten) has one non-conference game remaining with the Creighton Bluejays, before the Huskers host the Michigan Wolverines for a three-game series to end conference play.
The Huskers start the week by making a trip down I-80 to Omaha for a game on Tuesday at TD Ameritrade Park against Creighton. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. and the game will be carried across the state on NET.
The two in-state programs were scheduled to play three times this season, but the game in Lincoln was cancelled due to weather. Creighton won the only other meeting this season, 5-3, on Friday, April 26, to open the TD Ameritrade Classic.
A pair of Omaha natives are scheduled to duel on Tuesday night at TD Ameritrade Park, as the Huskers will send senior Tyler Niederklein to the mound, while the Jays will counter with freshman Matt Warren.
Nebraska finishes the regular season with a three-game home series against Michigan, starting on Thursday, May 16 at 6:35 p.m.
The Huskers enter the week in a three-way tie with Ohio State and Minnesota for second place in the Big Ten, while the Wolverines are tied with Illinois for fifth in the league.
Neither Nebraska or Michigan has announced their weekend rotation at this time.
Last season, the Huskers went to Ann Arbor and took the series, 2-1. Nebraska won the opener, 15-2, punching its ticket to the Big Ten Tournament. After Michigan evened the series with a 6-5 win in game two, the Huskers finished the series with a 7-3 win in the finale.
On the Radio this Week
Fans across Nebraska and around the world can listen Greg Sharpe and Lane Grindle call all of the action on the Husker Sports Network - including KLIN 1400 AM and 94.5 FM 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 12.
TV Coverage this Week
Tuesday’s 7:05 p.m. game with Creighton at TD Ameritrade Park and Friday’s 6:35 p.m. game with Michigan at Hawks Field are both scheduled to be shown across the state of Nebraska on NET.
Time Warner (SD-12, HD-1012)
DISH Network (SD/HD-12)
Saturday’s regular-season finale against Michigan is scheduled to be shown live nationally on the Big Ten Network. The game was originally scheduled for 1:05 p.m., but was moved to 12:05 p.m. after it was picked up for TV.
Time Warner (SD-24, HD-333)
DISH Network (SD/HD-439)
Web Streams this Week
There will be no video stream on Tuesday when the Huskers take on the Creighton Bluejays at TD Ameritrade Park.
Thursday’s series opener with Michigan will be streamed live on HuskersNSide (subscription required).
Friday’s game will be streamed live on BTN.com (subscription required), while Saturday’s game can be watched live on BTN2Go.com.
Scouting the Creighton Bluejays
The Creighton Bluejays enter the weekend with a 28-14 overall record and an 11-7 record in the Missouri Valley Conference.
The Jays are 14-4 at TD Ameritrade Park this season, including a win over the Huskers earlier this season.
The Jays have found improved their offense this season, as they are hitting .288 as a team after hitting .251 a year ago.
Jake Peter leads the team with a .348 average, while Federico Castagnini and Kevin Lamb are also each hitting over .330 with .336 and .333 averages, respectively.
CU knows how to use the gaps at its large park, as it has 55 doubles and 14 triples on the season, but just eight home runs.
Six Jays have at least 20 RBIs on the year, led by Peter’s 31 RBIs.
The Jays are patient at the plate and make opposing defenses work as they have 246 strikeouts on the year (5.9 per game), while walking 189 times.
Creighton steals under one base a game with 36 steals in 54 attempts. They will move runs around with 71 sacrifice bunts on the season.
The Huskers are likely to see multiple arms from the Jays on Tuesday night, starting with freshman Matt Warren.
The 6-0 righty has five starts on the year in 12 appearances, with a 2-2 record on a 3.18 ERA.
The Skutt Catholic product has worked 34.0 innings, allowing 16 runs (12 earned) on 30 hits and 11 walks, while striking out 15.
Opponents are hitting .236 off Warren, with six doubles, one triple and one homer. He has four wild pitches on the year and has hit two batters.
Magic Number at 1
With one week to go in the Big Ten schedule, the Nebraska baseball team is close to qualifying for its second-straight Big Ten Tournament.
Seven of the league’s 11 teams are fighting for one of the six spots to the conference’s postseason tournament.
The Huskers need one win in their series with Michigan or a loss by Michigan State on the road at Penn State to secure a bid to the tournament.
The Huskers (14-7) enter the week in a three-way tie with Minnesota (12-6) and Ohio State (14-7) for second place in the Big Ten standings. Each team has a winning percentage of .667. Indiana sits atop the standing at 15-6 (.714).
With only the top six teams in the conference earning a trip to the postseason tournament, the Huskers still have a shot at winning the league title or not be invited to the tournament at all.
The six-team Big Ten Tournament starts next Wednesday, May 22, at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minn. The top two seeds in the tournament receive byes and open play on Thursday, May 23.
Get on Base
Preseason All-American Michael Pritchard enters Tuesday’s game against Creighton with a 32-game on-base streak.
The streak tops Pritchard’s 31-game streak from a year ago and ties Rich Sanguinetti for the top streak by a Husker this season.
Since 2000, 10 Huskers have reached base in 30 or more consecutive games during a season, including Luke Gorsett who put together a 48-game streak in 2006.
One Tough Out
Chad Christensen has on opposing pitchers all season, as the senior is fourth in the Big Ten in both batting average (.372) and hits (71).
During conference play, the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native leads all players in hits (40), batting average (.455), on-base percentage (.505) and runs scored (25).
Christensen’s .455 average is also tops in the league since 2009 when Purdue’s Brandon Haveman hit .464.
Since 1939, only six times has a player finished the season with the top average in the conference during league play with an average of .480 or better.
Solid with the Glove
Nebraska’s defense has played solid behind its pitching staff this season, committing 35 errors in 1,881 chances through 49 games.
The Huskers enter the week with the second-best fielding percentage in the country at .982, just fractions behind national-leader Mercer.
Ohio State is second in the Big Ten Conference in fielding at .976, which ranks 25th nationally.
Climbing the Hit List
Earlier this season, senior Chad Christensen became the 14th player in Nebraska history to join the 200-hit club with his walk-off single in the bottom of the 16th inning against Northwestern on Friday, March 29.
On the year, Christensen leads the Huskers with a .372 average (71-for-191) and is second on the team with 31 RBIs, four behind Kash Kalkowski’s team-high 35 RBIs.
Prior to Christensen, Jake Opitz was the last Husker to join the club, as he ended his four-year career in 2008 with 227 career hits.
Christensen needs two hits to tie DJ Belfonte for 10th on NU’s career-hits list.
Matt Hooper holds the school record with 338 career hits and is one of just two players in school history to have topped 300 hits. Jeff Leise sits second on the career charts with 305 career hits.
Returning to Form
Preseason All-American Michael Pritchard played in the first two games of the 2013 season, but then missed 10 games with an oblique injury.
A third-team All-American a year ago, Pritchard was just 6-for-28 (.214) in his first seven games back in the Husker lineup.
He has since found his groove and ranks second on the team with a .327 average.
Over the past 30 games entering Tuesday, Pritchard is tied with Chad Christensen for the team lead in average at .374 and has a team-high 10 doubles.
During the stretch, Pritchard put together a 20-game hitting streak that started on March 22 at Illinois and was snapped on April 26 at Creighton..
Prior to the 2013 season, Pritchard was selected as the second-team designated hitter on the 2013 NCBWA Preseason All-America team. The Omaha native was tabbed as a third-team All-American by the same publication following the 2012 season.
The last Husker to earn All-America accolades in consecutive seasons was Alex Gordon, who was a first-team selection by multiple publications in 2004 and 2005.
Money at the Plate
Senior Kash Kalkowski has turned into an RBI machine during Big Ten play, as the Grand Island native is tied with Illinois’ Justin Parr for the conference lead in RBIs with 24.
The 6-1 first baseman has at least one RBI in 13 of his 21 Big Ten Conference games, and has produced a at least a pair of RBIs six times. He has delivered four RBIs in a league game twice this season, including at home against Ohio State (4/12) and at Purdue (4/20).
Overall on the season, Kalkowski is tied with Michigan’s Travis Maezes for eighth in the league with 35 RBIs.
The Huskers are 23-26 in 2013, but 15 of their 26 losses have come by two runs or less, including nine losses by one run. The Huskers are 7-15 in games decided by two runs or less.
So far in 2013, the Nebraska baseball has played one of the tougher schedules in the country.
The Huskers will/have played 13 games against 2012 NCAA Tournament teams, including a doubleheader 2012 College World Series qualifier Arkansas at Hawks Field.
As of Wednesday, May 13, Warren Nolan ranked Nebraska’s schedule as the 9th-toughest in the country, while Boyd’s World ranked it as the 17th toughest schedule in the country.
Nebraska’s series with the Razorbacks marked the third straight year that the Huskers have hosted a CWS team from the previous season, as the Huskers took a three-game series from UCLA, 2-1, in 2011 and California split a four-game series at Hawks Field last season.
Nebraska has four teams on its 2013 schedule who were ranked in one of the four preseason polls, including Arkansas, who was ranked No.1 in the country in three polls.
Through the first 49 games of the year, Nebraska has played 17 games against a ranked opponent, but are just 4-13 in those games.
The Huskers haven’t fared well in games on Tuesday’s this season, going 2-3 through five games.
NU’s luck may have turned around though, as that last time it played on a Tuesday it swept a doubleheader from No. 10 Arkansas, including a combined no hitter in the game one.
The Huskers lost their first Tuesday game early in the year to then No. 8 Cal State Fullerton, 8-7, in 11 innings. Nebraska then dropped a pair of Tuesday games at Kansas State, 10-8 and 9-1.
Heating Up for Big Ten Play
The Husker bats have come alive during Big Ten play, as Nebraska leads the Big Ten in batting average (.333), on-base percentage (.400), runs (157), hits (268) and RBIs (139), while ranking third in doubles (36), triples (4) and walks (83).
In Nebraska’s first 19 games of the season, the Huskers averaged 7.5 hits per game, but have nearly doubled the total with 12.8 hits per game during conference play.
Rely on Roeder
Josh Roeder has developed into a shutdown arm for the Huskers at the back of the bullpen.
Roeder is 0-3 on the year, but has posted three saves and carries a 1.88 ERA into the Tuesday.
Roeder is not overly imposing on the mound, but packs a punch in his 6-0 frame. Over 24.0 innings of works he has notched 23 strikeouts to just five walks, including one intentional walk.
We’re Going Streaking
Five Huskers have put together hitting streaks of 11 or more games this year, including Michael Pritchard, who produced his second career hitting streak of 20 games or more.
With a double in the first inning against Kansas State on Wednesday, April 24, Pritchard became the first player in program history to put together two 20-game or more hitting streaks while at Nebraska.
Last season, Pritchard put together one of the top individual performances at the plate, as he rattled off a 25-game hitting streak. He tied Derek Dukart for the third-longest hitting streak in NU history at 25 games.
2012 teammate Richard Stock also put together quite a streak of his own at 21 games, marking the first time in school history that a pair of Huskers produced hit streaks of 20 or more games in the same season.
This season Austin Darby and Chad Christensen have each put together 15-game hitting streaks, while Rich Sanguinetti has a pair of13-game hitting streaks and Kash Kalkowski came up one game shy of tying his career-high with a 11-game hitting streak.
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 in 1987.
Since taking over as Nebraska’s primary leadoff hitter at Cal State Fullerton on March 19, Rich Sanguinetti has turned around his season senior season.
Over the past 32 games, Sanguinetti is third on the team with a .345 batting average and failed to reach base in a game only once.
The senior from Arlington, Texas, has produced five doubles, one homer and 13 RBIs. He has posted a .421 on-base percentage and is slugging .403.
Since switching to the leadoff spot, Sanguinetti has seen his overall season average rise over .100 points from .175 to .296, which ranks fifth on the team.
A first-team All-Big Ten pick a year ago, Sanguinetti is third on the team with 14 multi-hit games in the 32-game stretch, including a four-hit game and five, three-hit games.
Over Nebraska’s first 17 games of the season, Sanguinetti hit .175 with just two multi-hit games.
Hits in Bunches
Senior Chad Christensen has been tough on opposing pitchers this season, as the NU left fielder leads the team with 24 of the Huskers’ 130 multi-hit games. Pat Kelly is next with 18 multi-hit games, while Michael Pritchard has 17 and Rich Sanguinetti has 16 multi-hit games.
Christensen has six, three hits games, while Sanguinetti and Austin Darby each have five.
Kelly has produced three four-hit games, Kash Kalkowski has 2, while Christensen and Sanguinetti each have one.
13 different Huskers have produced a multi-hit game this season, including 10 who have a three-hit game.