No. 19 Huskers Open NCAA Tournament with Titans
Friday, May 30 – 12:05 p.m. (CT)
Probable Starters: RHP Sinclair (9-1) vs. RHP Eshelman (8-3)
Stream: Free Radio (Huskers.com) | Video Stream (WatchESPN)
Radio: Husker Sports Network
Up Next for the Huskers
For the first time since 2008, the Nebraska baseball team is part of the NCAA Tournament. The Huskers, who are 40-19 on the year, earned an at-large invitation during the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship Selection Show Monday morning on ESPNU. Nebraska was selected to play in the Stillwater Regional, hosted by Oklahoma State at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
The No. 2 seed in the Stillwater Regional, the Huskers will face No. 3 seed Cal State Fullerton in the first round on Friday, May 30 at Noon (CT). The game will be shown live on ESPNU and streamed live on WatchESPN. Regional host Oklahoma State then meets No. 4 seed Binghamton at 6 p.m. on ESPN3.
Nebraska will play at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium for the first time since 2010, when the Huskers played a three-game Big 12 series in Stillwater.
The Huskers and Titans met four times last season at Goodwin Field in Fullerton, Calif., with the Titans taking all four meetings.
Nebraska will be in search of its first NCAA Tournament win since 2008, when the Huskers opened the Lincoln Regional with a 13-10 victory over Eastern Illinois.
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.
TV Coverage for Cal State Fullerton Game
Friday’s game against Cal State Fullerton will be shown live on ESPNU.
Web Streams for Cal State Fullerton Game
Friday’s game against Cal State Fullerton will be streamed live on WatchESPN.
Nebraska-Cal State Fullerton History
The Huskers are 0-6 all-time against the Titans, including an 0-4 record last season.
The first ever meeting between the two teams came in 1984, when the Huskers fell 9-7 on the road in Fullerton early in the season.
Friday will mark the second time the Huskers and Titans have met during the NCAA Tournament, as they also met at the 2001 College World Series. In the Huskers’ first ever game at the CWS, the Titans pulled out a slim 5-4 victory.
Nebraska & Cal St. Fullerton Series (CSF leads 6-0)
2013 at CSF L, 10-4
at CSF L, 8-7 (11 innings)
at CSF L, 9-0
at CSF L, 10-5
2001 vs. CSF L, 5-4 (CWS)
1984 at CSF L, 9-7
Over the Past 10 Games for Nebraska
• Nebraska was 8-2, including a 3-0 road record and a 3-1 neutral site record
• Tanner Lubach hit .310 (9-for-29) with three doubles
• Pat Kelly produced 10 of NU’s 38 RBIs
• NU produced 17 doubles, while allowing nine
• Michael Pritchard hit a team-high four doubles
• Zach Hirsch gave up one earned run in 10.0 innings of relief over six appearances
• Pat Kelly, Michael Pritchard and Ryan Boldt tied for the team lead with 11 hits each
• Jake Placzek scored a team-best eight
• Nebraska out-homered opponents 6-to-4
• Nebraska pitchers totaled 60 strikeouts, while walking 19
• Nebraska’s pitching staff posted a 2.66 ERA, while opposing pitchers were at a 4.08 ERA
• Nebraska outscored opponents 43-32
If you could only use one word to describe Head Coach Darin Erstad, the word would be “grind”.
No matter what the score is, Erstad preaches to his team that they need to grind at-bats and stick to the team’s offensive approach.
A total of 15 times this year the Huskers have been behind or tied after six innings and have come back to win, including each ot their first two games at the Big Ten Tournament.
2/14 vs. Pacific | Tied 3-3 after 6th, won 5-3
- Scored twice in bottom of 7th
3/8 vs. St. Johns | Tied 6-6 after 7th, won 7-6
- Walk off single by Taylor Fish
3/15 vs. UC Irvine | Tied 2-2 after 6th, won 7-4
- UC Irvine took 3-2 lead top of 7th, Huskers responded with 3 runs bottom 7th and 2 in bottom 8th
3/19 vs. Creighton | Down 4-3 bottom 10, won 5-4
- After NU tied the game 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh, Creighton took a 4-3 lead top of 10. Huskers answered with 2 in the bottom of the 10, including a walk-off single by Jake Placzek
4/1 vs. Ohio State | Down 2-0 after 7, won 3-2
- Trailing 2-0 headed bottom of 8, Huskers scored 3 runs to win 3-2
4/2 vs. Ohio State | Down 3-0 after 7, won 4-3
- Trailing 2-0 after 7, the Huskers scored 1 in the 8th and 3 in the 9th, including a walk-off single by Michael Pritchard to win 4-3
4/3 vs. Ohio State | Tied 1-1 after 8, won 2-1
- With the game tied 1-1 after 4, the Huskers won the game 2-1 in the 9th on a walk-off single by Tanner Lubach
4/8 at Creighton | Down 2-1 after 7, won 4-2
- Trailing 2-1 headed to the 8th, Huskers scored 3 runs and won the game 4-3
4/11 at Minnesota | Tied 6-6 after 7, won 8-6
- After NU took a 5-0 lead after 2 innings, Minnesota tied the game 6-6 after 7. Huskers scored 2 in the top of the 9th to win 8-6
4/13 at Minnesota | Down 2-1 after 6, won 3-2 in 10
- Down 2-1 after 6 innings, Huskers tied the game 2-2 in the top of the 7th. Huskers won the game 3-2 in 10 innings after scoring in the top of the 10th
4/19 vs. Northwestern | Tied 9-9 after 7, won 10-9
- Tied 9-9 after 7 innings, Blake Headley delivered a sac fly in the bottom of the 8th and Josh Roeder picked up his 8th save of the year to avoid a sweep by the Wildcats
4/26 at Michigan | Tied 1-1 after 7, won 3-1
- Tied 1-1 after 7 innings, Steven Reveles delivered a 1-out sacrifice fly and Taylor Fish added an RBI single in the top of the 8th
5/17 vs. Illinois | Tied 4-4 after 6, won 7-4
- Tied 4-4 after 6 innings in the final game of the regular season, Nebraska’s bullpen kept the Illini off the board, allowing Pat Kelly to hit a three-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the 10th
5/21 vs. Ohio State | Down 6-3 after 8, won 7-6
- Trailing 6-3 headed into the bottom of the ninth, Nebraska scored four runs, capped by a walk-off sacrifice fly from Tanner Lubach
5/22 vs. Michigan State | Tied 2-2 after 6, won 3-2
- With the game tied 2-2 after the 6th, Jake Placzek and Michael Pritchard doubled on consecutive pitches in the seventh to give NU a 3-2 lead.
For the first time since 2008, the Nebraska baseball team is headed to the NCAA Tournament. The Huskers, who are 40-19 on the year, earned an at-large invitation during the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship Selection Show.
Monday’s selection snaps a five-year postseason drought for the Huskers, who will be making their 13 appearance in the NCAA Tournament and their ninth since 2000. Nebraska made five straight trips to the NCAA Tournament from 1999 to 2003.
The Huskers made back-to-back appearances at the College World Series in 2001 and 2002, before returning to the championship event in 2005.
Huskers Get Hot in April & May
Since the calendar rolled over to the month of April, the Huskers have been one of the hottest teams in the country, posting a 25-7 mark after starting the season 15-12.
The Huskers lost their first game in April, a 4-3 loss at Arkansas, and sat 15-13 on the year. Since the loss to the Razorbacks the Huskers have posted a 25-6 record.
Nebraska is 11-2 in the month of May after ending the regular season with sweeps of Penn State and Michigan State, along with a 2-1 series win over Illinois. NU then went 3-1 at the Big Ten Tournament.
Win No. 100
Head Coach Darin Erstad enters Friday with 104 career wins. He picked up his 100th career win in NU’s series-opening win over Illinois on Thursday, May 15.
Erstad is one of five head baseball coach in Nebraska history at least 100 career wins.
NU Baseball Coaches with 100 Wins
John Sanders 767 (1978-1997)
Tony Sharpe 394 (1947-1977)
Mike Anderson 337 (2003-2011)
Dan Van Horn 214 (1998-2002)
Darin Erstad 104 (2012-present)
NU’s All-Big Ten Honors
Eight members of the Nebraska baseball team were honored by the Big Ten Conference on May 20, including Pat Kelly, Michael Pritchard and Chance Sinclair who were each tabbed as first-team All-Big Ten performers by the league’s coaches.
Blake Headley and Christian DeLeon were each second-team selections, while Zach Hirsch earned third-team honors. Ryan Boldt was one of 13 newcomers named to the All-Big Ten Freshman Team and Ty Kildow was Nebraska’s Sportsmanship Award Winner.
Four Huskers were named to the Big Ten All-Tournament Team, including Boldt, Kelly, Kyle Kubat and Aaron Bummer.
Walk it Off
Following a 7-6 comeback win over Ohio State on Wednesday, May 21 at the Big Ten Tournament when the Huskers scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth, the Huskers have posted six walk-off wins in 2014.
Game Walk-Off Hit
St. John’s (3/8) Taylor Fish (RBI Single)
Creighton (3/19) Jake Placzek (RBI Single)
Ohio State (4/5) Michael Pritchard (2-RBI Single)
Ohio State (4/6) Tanner Lubach (RBI Single)
Illinois (5/17) Pat Kelly (3-Run HR)
Ohio State (5/21) Tanner Lubach (sac fly)
Join the Club
Senior Michael Pritchard joined Nebraska’s 200-hit club earlier this year on Friday, March 21, with a first inning single at Iowa and was recently joined by Pat Kelly, who picked up his 200th career hit with a single against Michigan State on Sunday, May 11.
Entering this season, only 20 players in school history were in the program’s 200-hit club.
Pritchard enters Friday tied with Chad Christensen (2010-13) for eighth place in school history with 247 hits. With three hits, Pritchard would tie Paul Meyers (1984-86) for fifth all-time with 250 hits.
Kelly, a junior, ranks 20th in school history with 208 hits and needs 14 hits to tie John Cole (1992-95) for 19th on the chart. Kelly totaled a team-high 85 hits last season and his 72 hits this season lead the team, one ahead of Pritchard’s 70 hits.
Last season, 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 in 2008.
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.
NU 200-Career Hit Club
1. 338 Matt Hopper 2000-03
2. 305 Jeff Leise 2000-03
3. 281 Will Bolt 1999-02
4. 261 Darin Erstad 1993-95
5. 250 Paul Meyers 1984-86
6. 249 Joe Simokaitis 2002-05
7. 248 Jed Dalton 1992-95
8. 247 Chad Christensen 2010-13
247 Michael Pritchard 2011-present
10. 246 Darin Petersen 1992-95
11. 242 Mark Kister 1985-87
12. 240 Alex Gordon 2003-05
13. 238 DJ Belfonte 2007-10
14. 234 Todd Sears 1995-97
15. 231 Daniel Bruce 2002-05
16. 229 Ken Ramos 1987-89
17. 227 Jake Opitz 2005-08
18. 223 Curtis Ledbetter 2003-05
19. 222 John Cole 1999-01
20. 208 Pat Kelly 2012-present
21. 203 Ken Harvey 1997-99
22. 201 Francis Collins 1995-97
Pencil Him In
Junior Pat Kelly has been a regular in the Husker lineup ever since he was a freshman in 2012.
Entering Friday’s NCAA Tournament game, Kelly has started 132 straight games dating back to his freshman season.
Kelly has started all 59 games this season and was in the starting lineup for all 59 games in 2013. Kelly started 41 games as a freshman in 2012, including the final 14 games of the year.
The last time Kelly didn’t start was on April 28, 2012, when he didn’t play in the second game of a doubleheader against CSU Bakersfield.
Like Your Chances with Sinclair
Junior Chance Sinclair is scheduled to start Nebraska’s NCAA Tournament opener on Friday against Cal State Fullerton.
The right-hander will be in search of his 10th win of the year, as his 9-1 with a 2.29 ERA.
A transfer from Neosho County CC, Sinclair has gone 6.0 or more innings in 12 of his 15 starts, including nine outings of at least 7.0 innings or more and a 9.0-inning complete game against Ohio State.
In Sinclair’s start against the Buckeyes on April 5, the junior gave up three runs (all unearned) on seven hits and no walks in his first career complete game.
Lean on Hirsch
Zach Hirsch has been one of Nebraska’s best arms out of the bullpen in 2014.
For his efforts he was one of 50 relievers in the nation named to the NCBWA Mid-Season Stopper of the Year Award Watch List and was also named third-team All-Big Ten by the league’s coaches.
The one-time starter has made a team-high 29 appearances, all out of the pen, in 2014 and holds a 1.32 ERA, while holding opposing batters to a .188 average over 47.2 innings of work.
Hirsch is tied with starting pitcher Chance Sinclair for second on the team with 48 strikeouts, as he is averaging 1.02 strikeout per inning, while walking only 13 batters on the year.
Earlier this season the senior lefty had a streak of 14.1 innings of scoreless relief before Minnesota scored a run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh on April 11 that tied the game 6-6. The Huskers still won the game, 8-6.
Since the Minnesota game, Hirsch has allowed three earned runs on 12 hits over 20.1 innings of relief in 12 appearances.
Over Hirsch’s last nine appearances, he has given up just one earned run over 15.1 innings.
Hirsch has 19 appearances this season where he has thrown at least 1.0 inning of relief and hasn’t given up a run. In 10 of those appearances he hasn’t given up a hit.
Rely on Roeder
Since blowing a save at Iowa on March 21, junior closer Josh Roeder has converted nine straight save opportunities and has 12 saves on the year.
Roeder’s 12 saves are the most since 2006 when Brett Jensen closed out 13 games a year after he set the school record for saves with 16 in 2005.
In nine save chances since the Iowa game, Roeder hasn’t allowed a run over 9.1 innings of work and has struck out 13 batters, while walking just one.
On the year, Roeder is 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA over 20.0 innings of work. He has struck out 21 and walked six.
Nebraska is 31-1 this year when leading after the eighth inning.
Senior Michael Pritchard enters Friday with a team-high 21 doubles on the year.
With his double against Michigan State on May 22, he became the eighth player at Nebraska since 2000 to total 20 doubles in a season. He added his 21st double of the year two days later in win over Michigan.
Head of the Class
Junior Blake Headley enters Friday with a team-high .319 average after he posted a .284 average as a sophomore in 2012.
A second-team All-Big Ten pick, Headley ranks second on the team with 20 multi-hit games, including six games with three hits.
During his first two years at Nebraska, he totaled 15 multi-hit games.
Making an Impact
Freshman Ryan Boldt moved to the leadoff spot for the Huskers over the team’s past 25 games and has reached base in NU’s first at-bat of the game 12 times.
With Boldt in the leadoff spot this year, the Huskers are 21-5 on the year. Along with the last 25 games, Boldt also hit leadoff in NU’s season-opening win over Pacific.
Tabbed as a Big Ten All-Tournament Team performer, the Red Wing, Minn., native is hitting .302 on the year with 11 doubles, four triples, two homers and 30 RBIs, while also scoring 42 runs.
Prior to the start of the 2014 season, Boldt was named the No. 2 freshman in the country by Baseball America.
Michael Pritchard has been a hit machine during his career at Nebraska, as he is eighth for ninth in school history with 247 career hits. Earlier this season he fell into a slump, but since found his stroke at the plate.
Pritchard was hitting .407 after the Huskers’ first two weeks of play and was at .373 after a 3-for-5 day against Northern Colorado on March 11, NU’s 14th game of the season.
Over his next 16 games, Pritchard went 9-for-60 with only two multi-hit games and saw his average fall to .261 on April 6.
Over his past 27 games entering Friday, Pritchard has raised his average 50 points to .311.
He is hitting .370 during the stretch (40-for-108) with 10 multi-hit games, including a career-high 5-for-5 night against Kansas State on April 15.
During the 27-game stretch Pritchard has 14 doubles and has notched 25 of his 46 RBIs on the season. Ryan Boldt and Steven Reveles rank second on the team with 11 doubles all season.
In 2014, Pritchard has 12 multi-RBI games, four more than the eight he had during his first three seasons at Nebraska combined.
The Huskers have produced double-digit hits 29 times this year in 59 games, including 14 of their 27 home games.
The Huskers are 24-5 when notching double-digit hits on the season.
Nebraska produced a season-high 22 hits on Tuesday April 15, in a 14-5 win over Kansas State. It was the most hits by a Husker offense since 2012, when the Huskers notched 24 hits in a 22-3 win over Louisiana Tech.
Nebraska is 31-1 this year when they out hit their opponent, with the lone loss coming against Oregon State in the second game of the year. The Huskers out hit the Beavers 15-13.
The Sea of Red
At last week’s Big Ten Tournament at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska’s passionate fan base took Big Ten baseball to new heights.
19,965 fans attended Sunday’s title game between Nebraska and Indiana, setting an NCAA record for attendance at a conference tournament game. It was also the second-largest crowd to watch a college baseball game in 2014. The top mark so far in 2014 belongs to Georgia/Georgia Tech, as 21,310 fans filled Tuner Field in Atlanta on May 13.
Overall at the tournament, 62,020 fans came for the five-day event to destroy the previous tournament attendance record of 12,219 set at Ohio State’s Bill Davis Stadium in 2010.
Hitting the Century Mark
Junior Pat Kelly became the 43rd Husker since 1986 to notch 100 RBIs for their career when he drove in a run in the first game of a doubleheader with Northwestern on April 19.
Kelly enters Friday with 125 career RBIs. His 55 RBIs this season are the most by a Husker since Cody Asche produced 56 in 2011.
Michael Pritchard needs seven more RBIs in 2014 to also join the club.
Kash Kalkowski (123), Chad Christensen (118) and Josh Scheffert (113) all joined the club last season. Prior to the three seniors in 2012, Cody Asche was the last to join in 2011, ending his career with 135 RBIs
Matt Hopper is the only Husker to ever top the 200-RBI mark, with a school-record 271 RBIs.
First Time for Everything
Nebraska’s comeback win in the ninth inning against Ohio State on Wednesday, May 21 was the largest ninth-inning comeback win in TD Ameritrade history.
Prior to NU’s comeback, teams were a combined 2-122 in 145 games at the home of the College World Series when trailing heading into the ninth. The only two previous comeback wins came when teams were down by one run entering the ninth.
Nebraska’s comeback from a 6-0 deficit tied the largest comeback in facility history. Creighton also came back from a 6-0 hole against Bradley.
Nebraska had an eight-game winning streak snapped by Illinois on May 16, when the Illini won game two of a three-game series between the two teams.
It was the longest streak by a Husker team since 2008 season when NU rolled off 14 straight wins from Feb. 29 - March 18.
Get out the Brooms
The Huskers swept four Big Ten series in 2014, including sweeps of Michigan State, Penn State, Minnesota and Ohio State.
Nebraska last posted four conference sweeps in the same season in 2000, when the Huskers swept four straight Big 12 series against Kansas, Missouri, Texas A&M and Iowa State.
The Huskers have never swept five conference series in the same season.