Honors & Awards
2003 CoSIDA Academic All-America Nominee
Seven-time Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll Member (Fall 2000; Spring 2001; Fall 2001; Spring 2002; Fall 2002; Spring 2003; Fall 2003)
Pitching Coach Rob Childress is glad that senior Mike Sillman is a quick study, and for that, Sillman’s return gives the Huskers their first veteran closer since the 2001 season. Sillman, who had worked primarily in middle relief his first two years at Nebraska, dramatically changed his delivery before 2003, going to more of a submarine style. The change worked wonders for the 6-1, 190-pound right-hander, as Sillman went 1-1 with three saves and a 1.82 ERA. The Millard South product earned all three of his saves in the final month of the year, and enjoyed a string of 18.1 consecutive shutout innings. He may have had only one win in 2003, but it was one of the biggest in school history, tossing 1.2 innings of scoreless relief in NU’s Big 12 clinching victory over Baylor.
"It’s been three years since we entered the season where we have a true closer," Pitching Coach Rob Childress said. "Mike developed into that role for us down the stretch last year. He was a guy who we couldn’t wait to get him the ball when we had the lead. It is pretty comforting going into the season having a guy like that back."
Sillman continued his quick learning curve over the summer, pitching for Nevada (Mo.) in the Jayhawk League. He didn’t give up a run all summer, going 10-for-10 in save opportunities. Sillman struck out 23 in 19 innings and held opponents to a .156 average. Childress said Sillman, who will also contend for academic All-America honors carrying a 3.76 GPA in business administration, has a strong work ethic and the mental makeup to succeed in high-pressure situations.
2003 - Junior
Sillman enjoyed his best season as a Husker, going 1-1 with three saves and a 1.82 ERA in 17 appearances. The right-hander struck out 22 in 24.2 innings and held foes to a .241 average.
Sillman was eased into duty slowly, as he spent most of the winter and the early part of the season refining his new delivery. He made just six appearances during the first two months of the year, but allowed one earned run in that span. He began to see more extensive action in mid-April, striking out a pair in two shutout innings against McNeese State on April 15, before tossing a scoreless inning of relief against No. 7 Texas at Rosenblatt Stadium on April 20. Sillman, who was 1-0 with a save and a 0.00 ERA in six Big 12 outings, picked up his first career save against Texas Tech on April 27, tossing 2.2 innings of shutout ball to clinch the series win. His biggest performance of the regular season came in the regular-season finale against No. 14 Baylor, where he entered a tie game with runners on first and second before getting an inning-ending double play. He finished with 1.2 innings of scoreless relief, striking out Seth Fortenberry for the final out and giving the Huskers the Big 12 regular-season title.
He was one of the Huskers’ stars out of the bullpen in postseason play, going 0-1 with two saves in four outings. After tossing a scoreless inning in NU’s opening-round win over Kansas, he fanned the only two hitters he faced to pick up a save in NU’s 9-5 victory over No. 16 Baylor. In his only loss of the year, Sillman was heroic, hurling 5.1 innings of relief in a 7-5 14-inning loss to the Bears. In that game, he matched his career high with four strikeouts and didn’t allow a run until his sixth inning of work, ending his streak of scoreless innings at 18.1. He made one appearance in the NCAA Regional, picking up the save with 2.1 innings of relief in NU’s 16-11 win over Eastern Michigan on May 30.
2002 - Sophomore
Sillman appeared in 17 games in 2002, making 10 pitching appearances, while also serving as a pinch-runner in seven other contests. On the hill, Sillman went 1-1 with a 5.12 ERA, striking out 17 in 19.1 innings. He threw two or more innings in eight of his nine relief appearances. His best relief stint was against Creighton on April 16, where he pitched four innings of six-hit ball but was not involved in the decision. His win came in a start against UT-Pan American on April 24, where he hurled five innings of shutout ball.
2001 - Freshman
Sillman was one of three freshmen pitchers who contributed to NU’s Big 12 title squad, compiling a 2-1 record with a 4.84 ERA in nine outings. He began the year in the bullpen, pitching the final three innings in a loss to top-ranked Georgia Tech, allowing one run and striking out a career-best four Yellow Jackets. Sillman turned in his best outing of the year in his first career start against Centenary on March 17. He tossed eight innings of six-hit ball and picked up his first career victory in an 11-1 win. His other win came against Southern Utah, allowing one hit and striking out three in four innings of relief.
Sillman was a first-team All-Nebraska selection as a utility player from the Omaha World-Herald as a senior for Coach Trevor Longe at Millard South High School. On the mound, Sillman went 4-3 with a 2.10 ERA, a total that ranked eighth in the state, striking out 42 batters in 52 innings. He also batted .406 with 16 stolen bases in 59 at bats, ranking among the state leaders in steals. In American Legion baseball, Sillman was 8-1 with a 1.36 ERA, striking out 105 batters in 87 innings. Off the field, Sillman, who selected Nebraska over Creighton, was honored by the Omaha Sports Commission as the top scholar-athlete in the area and earned academic all-state honors all four years at Millard South.
Birthdate: Dec. 3, 1981; Parents: Mike and Barb Sillman; Brother: Kenny; Fiancee: Cara Van Winkle; Major: Business Administration.