Michael Pritchard and the Huskers welcome UC Irvine to Hawks Field
Photo by Nate Olsen/Nebraska Communications

Huskers Host No. 25 Anteaters

By NU Athletic Communications

Friday, March 14 – 4:35 p.m.
Probable Starters: LHP Kubat (0-0) vs. RHP Morales (3-0)

TV: None
Stream: Free Radio (Huskers.com) | Video Stream (HuskersNSide, premium)
Radio: Husker Sports Network

Saturday, March 15 –2:05 p.m.
Probable Starters: RHP DeLeon (1-1) vs. LHP Surrey (1-1)

TV: None
Stream: Free Radio (Huskers.com) | Video Stream (HuskersNSide, premium)
Radio: Husker Sports Network 

Sunday, March 16 – 12:05 p.m.
Probable Starters: RHP Sinclair (3-0) vs. RHP Brock (4-0)

TV: None
Stream: Free Radio (Huskers.com) | Video Stream (HuskersNSide, premium)
Radio: Husker Sports Network 

Up Next for the Huskers
Just over halfway through its current nine-game homestand, the Nebraska baseball team (9-5, 0-0 Big Ten) welcomes the No. 25 UC Irvine Anteaters to Hawks Field this weekend for the three-game series that kicks off on Friday afternoon at 4:35 p.m.

The Huskers swept the St. John’s Red Storm last weekend at Hawks Field and then split a pair of midweek games with the Northern Colorado Bears to post a 4-1 home record heading into Friday.

Following the three-game series with the Anteaters, the Huskers wrap up the homestand on Tuesday, March 18, when the Creighton Bluejays come to Lincoln for the first of three meetings between the Huskers and Jays this season. First pitch on Tuesday night is set for 6:35 p.m.

Over the Huskers’ past 10 games their bats have come alive, as NU is averaging 7.6 runs on 11.5 hits per game, while also averaging over two double a game.

Pat Kelly (.378) and Tanner Lubach (.385) have led the charge at the plate, as both are hitting over .375, while Kelly has notched 10 of his 15 RBIs on the season.

Junior Kyle Kubat will get the nod in Friday’s opener and will be making his second start of the season. Last Friday against St. John’s, Kubat cruised through the first four innings before he issued a one-out HBP that was followed by two straight singles and a walk in the fifth inning. The Red Storm ended up scoring four runs on three hits in the innings, but the Husker won the game, 12-4.

Seasoned veteran Christian DeLeon will take the mound on Saturday and will try to move above .500 on the year. The righty leads the Huskers in both innings pitched (24.1) and strikeouts (17) on the year, while carrying a 1-1 record and a 3.70 ERA.

Junior Chance Sinclair will try to improve to 4-0 on the year in Sunday’s finale. Sinclair has been tough on opposing hitters through four starts, as opposing batters are hitting .183 off the right hander, while Sinclair’s ERA is a salty 0.42.

On the Radio this Week
Fans across Nebraska and around the world can listen to 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 live on the Internet at Huskers.com or the Official Husker App.

Depending men’s basketball coverage at the Big Ten Tournament, baseball may be shifted from 1400 AM to 105.3 FM in Lincoln.

TV Coverage this Week
No TV coverage this weekend.

Web Streams this Week
A free radio stream of the game will be provided on Huskers.com. HuskersNSide will provide a video stream of the game (subscription required).

Nebraska-UC Irvine History
The Anteaters hold a 3-2 advantage in the all-time series with the Huskers and took the lead in the series last season when they took 2-of-3 from the Huskers at Anteater Ballpark in Irvine, Calif.

The first meeting between the two teams came during the opening weekend of the 1980 season when Nebraska won 5-3 in Las Vegas. The squads didn’t meet again until 2008 NCAA Tournament when the Anteaters beat the Huskers, 3-2, at the Lincoln Regional.

The Anteaters went on to play LSU at the Baton Rouge Super Regional in 2008 and were looking to advance to the College World Series for the second straight year, but dropped the last two games of the series after winning the series opener.

Scouting the #25 UC Irvine Anteaters
The UC Irvine Anteaters bring a 12-4 record into Friday’s opener and are ranked 25th nationally in the latest Collegiate Baseball poll.

The Anteaters played eight straight games at home to start the season and then played their first games on the road at Portland, where they swept a three-game series. After returning home for four games, UC Irvine entered the week on a 10-game winning streak, but had it snapped on Tuesday night when they lost, 5-0, at UCLA.

The Anteaters are led by infielders Taylor Sparks and Connor Spencer, as well as pitcher Andrew Morales. All three were named preseason All-American by multiple publications.

Sparks, who was named Big West Co-Player of the Year as a sophomore in 2013, is hitting .333 on the year with a team-high 20 hits and is tied with Spencer for the lead in RBIs with 12. Sparks and Spencer are also tied for the team lead in triples with three each.

The Huskers will need to try and take advantage of Sparks’ aggressive approach at the plate, as he leads the Anteaters in strikeouts with 21, while walking only six times. In the field, he has committed seven errors in 16 games.

Spencer ranks second on the team in hits with 17 and is hitting .298 on the year. His strikeouts-walk numbers are the opposite of Sparks’, as Spencer has 10 walks on the year to six strikeouts.

Morales has shined for the Anteaters since he joined the team last season after two years at Rio Hondo Community College. The 6-0 righty posted a perfect 10-0 record last season and has continued to roll in 2014 with a 3-0 record through four starts. Morales has not allowed an earned run and only three total runs over 30.0 innings of work, while striking out 30 batters to just six walks.

Last season, Morales won the rubber match of the series with the Huskers with 7.2 shutout innings on Sunday, allowing four hits and two walks, while striking out six.

Sophomore Elliot Surrey is scheduled to take the mound on Saturday against the Huskers and will be making his sixth career start. The 6-0 lefty is 1-1 on the year with a 3.26 ERA in 19.1 innings of work after throwing just 13.2 innings in 2013 as a freshman.

Senior Evan Brock is slated to start the finale on Sunday and the Huskers will look to hand him his first loss, as he is 4-0 on the year with a 2.05 ERA. Brock is in the weekend rotation for the first time in his career after making only 14 starts in 57 appearance during his first three seasons.

Sam Moore holds down the back of Irvine’s bullpen with eight saves already on the year. In 10 appearances he has a 0.93 ERA and has allowed only a pair of earned runs on eight hits in 19.1 innings of work. The 6-1 junior is averaging over a strikeouts an inning with 22 on the season.

Turn on the Jets
Entering Friday, Nebraska has produced 11 triples on the year, including three from Michael Pritchard. Ryan Boldt, Austin Darby and Blake Headley each have a pair of triples on the year.

Last season the Huskers didn’t have 11 triples until the 52nd game of the season on May 16, when the Huskers slugged two triples in the series opener against Michigan at Hawks Field.

Nebraska entered the week tied with Alabama State for fifth in the country in triples. Individually, Pritchard ranked 11th in the country, tied 19 other players, including UC Irvine’s Taylor Sparks and Connor Spencer. Statistics from the NCAA are updated Monday evening each week.

The single-season team record for triples is 38 by the 1980 squad, while Shawn Buchanan set the individual single-season record in 1990 with nine.

Get on Base
Senior Michael Pritchard enters Friday’s game with UC Irvine with an on-base streak of 57 straight games dating back to last season, which ties him with Texas’ Mark Payton for the longest active streak in the country. The current streak betters Pritchard’s 31-game streak during the 2012 season.

Since becoming a regular starter in 2012, Pritchard has played in 121 games and has failed to reach base by a hit, walk or hit-by-pinch in just eight games.

Including his freshman season in 2011, Pritchard has played in 155 games during his career and has failed to reach in 18 games.

During his career when Pritchard has at least three official at-bats in a game, he failed to reach base at least once just eight times.

Pritchard’s is the longest by a Husker since 2000. That is how long Nebraska game-by-game stats are available digitally.

Since 2000, 10 Huskers have reached base in 30 or more consecutive games.

Tough to Get Four
Last Friday against St. John’s Kyle Kubat gave up four earned runs, which may not seem like a lot, but it was the first time in Kubat’s career that he had given up more than three earned runs. Kubat had also never given up more than three unearned runs either

In the first 16 starts of his career, Kubat had never given up more than three earned runs and had only done that twice.

In eight starts last season Kubat gave up more than one earned run just four times.

Good Eye
The Huskers have struck out 72 times this year, an average of 4.8 times per game, but more impressively the Huskers have 63 walks on the year, an average of 4.2 per game.

Combined with their eight HBP, the Huskers have nearly drawn more free passes then strikeouts this season, 72-71.

Leadoff hitter Austin Darby has led the charge with 11 walks to six strikeouts.

Join the Club
Last season Chad Christensen became the 20th 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.

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.

Michael Pritchard is now looking to join the club, entering Friday’s game with UC Irvine he is one hit shy of 200 and ranks 21st in school history with 199 hits.

Matt Hopper 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.

Rely on Roeder
Junior Josh Roeder has picked up right where he left off in 2013, as the right-handed has earned a win and a pair of saves in five appearances this year. The righty has a 0.00 ERA over 4.2 innings of work.

Roeder was a welcome addition to the Husker pitching staff in 2013, as he helped solidify the back end of NU’s bullpen. He ended the season with a team-best 1.74 ERA and six saves in 31.0 innings of work over 21 appearances. The 6-0 righty posted 29 strikeouts to seven walks (one intentional), while holding opposing hitters to a .209 average.

Roeder was one of 50 pitchers named to the NCBWA Preseason Stopper of the Year Watch list, given annually to the top relief pitcher in college baseball.

Roeder was one of four Big Ten pitchers on the list, joining Michigan’s Jacob Cronenworth, Ohio State’s Trace Dempsey and Indiana’s Ryan Halstead.

Like Your Chances with Sinclair
Junior Chance Sinclair has gone 6.0 or more innings in three of his four starts, including a pair 7.0-inning gems. The 6-4 righty is 3-0 on the year with a 0.42 ERA over 21.2 innings.

Sinclair is yet to allow more than four hits in a start and has given up just one earned run, while giving up four unearned runs.

Rest the Pen
Since joining the Huskers last season, Christian DeLeon has made 18 starts for the Huskers.

The senior has gone at least 6.0 innings 15 times, at least 7.0 innings eight times and 8.0 or more innings four times.

DeLeon has gone 6.0 or more innings in his last three starts this season.

Kelly Keeps Hitting
Opposing pitchers don’t want to see junior Pat Kelly after he has an 0-for-3 or worse game.

Kelly was 0-for-3 in the season opener against Pacific and responded by going a career-best 5-for-5 against No. 2 Oregon State the next afternoon.

In 115 career games, Kelly has gone 0-for-3 or worse 19 times. Only twice following those has he not produced at least one hit in the following game. Following three 0-for-games he has rallied with at least four hits.

Through 15 games this season, Kelly leads the team with 25 hits and is tied with Michael Pritchard for the team lead in RBIs with 15.

Last season, Kelly led the team in hits with 85, while ranking third in batting average (.331), RBIs (33) and doubles (12). The Red Wing, Minn., native tied former first-team All-American John Cole (2001) for sixth in the single-season record book with 70 singles on the year.

Kelly is one of just six players in program history to produce 70 of more singles in a single season, while school-record holder Francis Collins (86 in 1997; 79 in 1996) achieved the feat twice.

This is Our House
When Nebraska opened its 2014 home slate with a 12-4 over St. John’s on March 7, the Huskers posted their 36 straight home opening win. A streak that dates back to the 1979 season. Nebraska is now 13-0 all-time in home openers at Hawks Field.

The Nebraska baseball program is celebrating its 13th year at Hawks Field in 2014. The Huskers are 265-96-1 (.733) since opening the park on March 5, 2002 with a 23-1 win over Nebraska-Kearney.

Need to Finish
The Huskers were likely just one win away from reaching the NCAA Tournament a year ago, but failed to qualify with a 29-30 record.

Close games hurt the Huskers all year, as they were 4-11 in one-run games.

Last season, Nebraska was 28-1 when leading after eight innings, but 0-24 when trailing after eight and 1-5 when tied. Nebraska was also just 4-24 when trailing after six innings and 1-26 when trailing after seven innings.

This season, Nebraska is 8-0 when leading after the sixth, but 0-6 when trailing after six.

Lean on Hirsch
Zach Hirsch has been one of Nebraska’s best arms out of the bullpen in 2014.

The one-time starter has made seven appearances out of the pen in 2014 and holds a 1.93 ERA, while holding opposing batters to a .125 average over 9.1 innings of work.

Hirsch enters Friday ranked second on the team with 11 strikeouts.


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