Nebraska NewsGood afternoon Husker fans! I haven’t had a lot of time to blog this week but thought I would throw something up now before I leave for a weekend get away to Denver. All in all it has been a pretty good week for Husker athletics with the football camps going on, football commitments, the baseball draft and Tom Osborne staying on indefinitely as athletic director.

I’ll kick things off with the big news of Osborne saying on as athletic directory indefinitely.  Originally, the agreement between Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman and Osborne stated that Osborne would serve as athletic director until June, 2010. This is big news for Husker athletics as he has really got things going in the right direction. We will just have to remember at some point, Osborne will have to step away from the University and a successor will be hired. I expect that to happen in the next three to five years.

The football camp has been going on at the University with players from all around the country attending. The economic crisis has limited some players that would have normally attended but all reports I have read have been good about the camp. The Huskers even picked up their first commitment for the 2011 class as instate prospect Ryne Reeves from Crete gave his verbal commitment after being offered by the coaching staff. Reeves could be a great player for the Huskers in the future!

The Major League Draft has also been going on this week. Even though the Husker baseball team didnt’ have the season that they wanted, they have seen some players get drafted so far. So far Mike Nesseth (10th round - Angels), Jeff Tezak (24th round - White Sox) and Adam Bailey (38th round - Yankees) have been drafted.

I hope everyone has a good weekend and we hear more football recruiting news soon!

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Husker Baseball

The State Of Husker Baseball

Captain Obvious: These past two weeks the Husker baseball team has been in a funk. 

It’s Just 3 Games
It’s important to note that this funk really boils down to 3 losses it shouldn’t have, however the reason why people are really concerned about the team is the way they’ve been losing, with really bad pitching (more on that later).  Still though, why only 3?  The baseball team is 2-7 over that stretch, so you’re saying that 5-4 would mean everything is good?  Well, yes.  First is a 10-7 loss to Northern Colorado at home (a team we’ve lost to just 1 time in 16 other games), and second is the first loss to KSU 15-1 and the final being the last KSU game, 5-3.

Why would you say that? Look at it this way.  First, there is no excuse for losing to Northern Colorado other than baseball’s a funny game.  In baseball, the absolute best team will beat the lesser teams about 9 out of 10 times and so far against UNC we’ve done that. Does that Justify it?  Not really, but it’s baseball.

Move on to the weekend series at Oklahoma. Realize we’re the first team since May 2008 to win a game in Norman and frankly, not many teams are going to win a series there, so while a 1-2 outcome isn’t as good as winning the series (which, by the way, we had a good shot at taking game 1 and just came up short), it surely is not the end of the world. 

Next, we lose to Wichita State at their house in the last inning after finishing up the Oklahoma series in Norman just 24 hours earlier.  Ask anyone at that level of baseball, it’s tough to travel overnight and play a game the next day and Wichita State, while not great, is a decent team and plays well at home.

In comes Kansas State and the series gets pushed up due to expected inclimate weather to a double header Friday and a single game Saturday.   The reason the first and last game against KSU were disappointments was because KSU is not a baseball school and we should take the series against them.  While they’re considerably better this year than they’ve been in the past, it’s still a team you have to expect to win the series against and the first and last games there are no excuses. 

So what’s different about the second game?  Well, the second game we were facing All-American candidate AJ Morris.  Look at what AJ had done before coming to Lincoln. AJ had started 7 games for a perfect 7-0 record, and 6 of those 7 he didn’t allow a single earned run.  In fact, before Friday he had only allowed 2 earned runs the entire year over 46 innings for a measly 0.39 ERA. That included wins over a top 10 Oklahoma team (the best offense in the Big XII, and one of the best in the country), a top 10 Baylor team and according to 3 of 6 polls, the #1 team in the country in Arizona State, who by the way was the only other team to put up earned runs on him (2). Even though we gave Morris a run for his money (we were 1 or 2 early hits from putting him out of the game) and we put up more earned runs on him (3) than any other team had, we still lost the game and really when you’re facing a guy like that you can’t expect to win (3 top 10 teams have failed to do so).

The Season So Far
Does anybody really mean it when they say, “I hate to say it, but I told you so”. I’m not sure, but here goes, “I hate to say it, but I told you so.”

I’ve said all year long (before the season and now) that this is a young team and young teams will make you scratch your head one week (KSU) and jump for joy the next (Ark/OSU).  I said it’s going to be an up and down season all year long and it clearly appears to have come true.  The bad news is we’re currently last in the Big XII.  We lost series @OU (expected), won a series vs OSU (unexpected), lost a series @TTU (unexpected) and got swept by KSU (unexpected).  Even though we expected to beat TTU, it should be pointed out that they just took 2 of 3 from Texas A&M as well.

Is Mike Anderson the right man for the job?  You decide.
I’ve now had this argument with many Husker baseball fans, so I’ll present the facts and you can decide for yourself if Anderson deserves a rebuilding year while they look for talent on the mound. And yes, they are looking. In fact, they have a ridiculous amount of pitchers committed already next year, 9 pitchers and a few position players that can also pitch. The highlight is Rivals100 pitcher Lemke, who has said a few times that he really wants to come to NU, but a round 5 or earlier draft pick would be tough to overcome.

So, back to the situation we’re in. We’ve lost 13 pitchers in the draft over the past two years. Last year, the 7 we lost (5 players + 2 signees we had really high hopes for) represented 73% of the innings pitched last year. The year before that, the 6 pitchers we lost represented 69% of the innings pitched.

The typical response to that is, “Well, everyone loses players”. Which is true. However, I challenge anyone to find another northern school that has lost 70% of innings pitched two years in a row that finished in the Top 25. I’d be shocked if anyone can find ANY school let alone a northern school. I also would be shocked if any northern school that lost 70% just 1 year and finished in the top 25 the next.  It just plain doesn’t happen.

Why seperate northern schools? Well, most Husker fans are VERY familiar with the pains of recruiting to the north in football, well I promise you it’s 100x harder in baseball and the talent gap is even greater. Kids in the south play baseball year round and don’t have the ‘shaking off the rust’ time that kids in the north do every year. They just get better, all year round.

Most of Coach Anderson’s tenure has been that of good pitching and small ball offense. A lot of 3-2 games, but never a run-producing machine. Well, this year we’ve also seen a huge improvement on the offensive side, but the pitching staff has been abused more than Tina Turner (too soon?). This year (according to the most current stats on we’re 35th in the country in runs scored. That probably doesn’t seem that impressive, but considering there’s roughly 285 teams in Div I baseball, that’s very impressive.

Should Anderson be excused for a REALLY bad year this year? I don’t know, that’s for you to decide. I would add though, this season’s not over with and I doubt they’re just going to pack it in a give up. If you ask my opinion, if this year continues on the downward spiral we’ve seen recently, then next year will be a make or break year for him. This team is very young and next year would be put up or shut up time.

Does Anderson always make the best decisions? No, baseball is about playing percentages and going with your gut. Even the best coaches are second guessed constantly. His most recent move to send Nesseth to the bullpen, I personally felt was a mistake because we didn’t have any other pitchers to fill the gaps. On Friday, I think part out of frustration, he sent a guy home on a relay throw that was pretty much already on it’s way when he was behind 10-1 with just 1 out. It was a bad call, no doubt. He also pitched to Jeff Larrish, but that’s another story…

Believe what you want. Should he have seen the pitching losses coming? Yes, to a degree, however his recruits being pillaged from the draft didn’t help either. Should he recruit guys who are not going to be drafted? I guess, but I would think you’d want to go after the best talent in the hopes that some will slip through the cracks.

Baseball recruiting is a lot funnier than football because players typically enter the draft out of high school and still sign with a college and ‘see’ if they get drafted high enough. Imagine for a minute if Cody Green and Cody Spano got drafted by the NFL a few months after signing his letter of intent with the Huskers.  Could you imagine how much of a jam the the football team would be in with just 1 QB left on the roster? The football team gets 85 scholarships, the baseball team 11 or so. Almost NOBODY is on a full ride in baseball, which means the kids have to pay some of their own way, which means the incredibly talented inner city kid is going to take that 20th round draft pick and take his crappy (compared to an education) $100,000 signing bonus and leave. It’s unfortunate, but it makes it very difficult to predict an incoming class and make sure all your holes are filled. Add in that any 3rd year player can enter the draft and find out if they get drafted high enough and you’re not always sure who’s coming back and who’s staying so you don’t even know what holes to fill.

There’s a reason why there’s only 1 or 2 schools that have made the 64-team tournament every year for the last 10 years. Because even the best, LSU, CSF, UNC, UT, etc. etc. have down years. Heck, Oregon State won the title 2 years in a row (2006, 2007) didn’t even make the tournament last year (2008). It’s not realistic to think you’ll have a top 25 team every year. The great almighty Dave Van Horn hasn’t done it at Arkansas. The great Rob Childress hasn’t done it at Texas A&M. Almost every Nebraska fans consider them great coaches and they are, but they’ve had down years too.

Make up your own mind about Anderson, but don’t ignore the realities that are college baseball at a northern school.

A Look Ahead
Up next we have a night game with in state opponent Creighton in Lincoln before the top 15 Texas Longhorns come into town.  Another Big XII weekend, another Top 15 team.  If Oklahoma is the offensive champion of the Big XII, then Texas is the pitching (KSU is 2nd, by the way).  Their staff comes into the weekend with a filthy 2.26 team ERA.  It’s probably the best weekend staff the Huskers will see all year.  I personally like the Huskers chances this weekend, simply because we’ve faced 3 All-Big XII quality pitchers this year (Oliver, Lyons, and Morris) and all 3 have had their worst outings against the Huskers and only Morris walked away with a win.  Texas, however, is last in the Big XII in runs and 2nd to last in batting average, a matchup the Huskers could use right now.

It should be interesting the rest of the way.

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Husker Baseball

Week 5 Recap

It’s been said repeatedly here that this team is young and sometimes they’re going to look like world beaters and sometimes they’re going to look like they might miss the regionals.  If the last three weeks aren’t evidence of that, I don’t know what is.  From a 5-0 week over South Dakota State and Cal State Northridge to a disappointing 1-2 series loss at Texas Tech back to a 3-2 week against a pair of top 15 teams, one of which was on the road. 

Hopefully the Huskers can break that trend this week at Oklahoma, but it won’t be easy.   Oklahoma is ranked as high as #8 this week, posting a 20-5 (2-1 in the Big XII) record. 

Nebraska 3 - Arkansas 7
The Huskers traveled south to visit the home of a familiar face to Husker fans, Dave Van Horn.  In the first game of the visit, the Huskers were kind to the Razorbacks, letting them off the hook on a couple different big scoring opportunities.  In the 2nd, the Huskers loaded the bases with no outs off three straight walks from the Arkansas Staff, but was only able to get one run out of it, on a double-play grounder by Cody Asche in the 2nd.  The Huskers loaded the bases again off of 2 walks and an error by Arkansas in the third inning.  This time, Adam Bailey and Tyler Farst struck out, and Nick Sullivan grounded out to end the threat. 

Unfortunately, the Huskers were unable to keep Arkansas off the scoreboard in the meantime.  Husker starter Erik Bird (0-1) went just and inning and 2/3, giving up 4 runs on 5 hits.  From there, the young Husker staff did pretty well as 8 pitchers combined to pitch the final 6 1/3 and give up just 3 runs, but by that time the damage had been done.

Nebraska 7 - Arkansas 4
It looked like Nerbaska was going home without a “W” from their trip to Fayetteville.  It’s the top of the 9th, 1 out and no runners on and Arkansas is cruising to a victory with a 3-1 lead.   Ben Kline battled at the plate, fouling off pitches and coaxed a 1 out walk for Nebraska’s first runner of the inning.  Cody Asche also managed to work his way on via the free pass.  Then, what happened next turned the Husker “L” into a “W”.

Cory Burleson hit a soft grounder between 1st and 2nd, but the first baseman threw the ball wildly to his pitcher covering allowing everyone to advance, including Ben Kline to score the first run.  Then, true freshman Cody Asche made a heads up play and noticed that the catcher had backed up the throw to first and nobody was covering home.  In a sprint race to the plate, Asche just beat it out, pulling the game to a 3-3 tie and gave new life to the Husker dugout.  The play was ruled an infield single with an error on the throw allowing the runners to advance.

The Huskers weren’t done though, the next 2 batters singled in the runner on 2nd and took 2nd themselves before a 3rd single by Mort lead to Bubak being thrown out at the plate.  Adam Bailey decided it wasn’t enough though and drove his Big XII leading 9th homerun over the right-center wall to make it 7-3.

The Razorbacks opened the bottom with a solo shot to bring them within 3, but Nesseth struck out the site to finish the game and give the Huskers another great come from behind win.

Oklahoma State 4 - Nebraska 11
The #11 Oklahoma State Cowboys came and visited the Huskers this weekend and the Huskers were ready.  Friday night the Cowboys sent up their All-American ace Andrew Oliver who had pitched a complete game shutout against Nebraska in Stillwater just a year ago, but the Huskers were not intimidated.  In the bottom of the 3rd, the Huskers found themselves behind 3-0, but they didn’t panic.  The Huskers first got on the board with 2 singles and 2 walks, including a 2-out bases-loaded walk by Jeff Tezak.  Cody Neer started off what would be a great weekend with a 2-out 2-RBI double to center to tie up the game at 3.  Cody Asche continued the charge, ripping a triple down the line scoring Neer and Tezak to give the Huskers a 5-3 lead.

The Huskers added a couple more in the next inning with back-to-back RBI singles from Jake Mort and Adam Bailey to chase the All-American Oliver, and the Husker cruised to a victory.  Casey Hauptman got the start and the Huskers used 6 pitchers to keep the OSU bats at bay, including Mike Nesseth who was usually the Friday starter and was recently moved to the bullpen to close out of the latter part of the game.

Oklahoma State 4 - Nebraska 12
Again, Nebraska found themselves up against an All-Big XII pitcher in Tyler Lyons and again, they didn’t seem to notice.  In the first, Jeff Tezak and Tyler Farst singled to drive in a pair of runs to take the early 2-0 lead before Cody Neer ripped an RBI double to extend the lead to 3.

In the 2nd, the Huskers kept it going.  An error and a single by Jake Mort put runners on the corners for Nerbaska’s dangerous newcomer Adam Bailey.  Bailey did what he does best, he ripped a double to the left-center gap and scored both runners before coming around to score on Tezak’s second RBI single of the game.

The 6-0 lead proved to be all Jordan Roualdes needed as he cruised for 7 innings, giving up 4 runs on 7 hits to give the Huskers the series win.

Oklahoma State 6 - Nebraska 3
For the first time all weekend, the Huskers found themselves fooled by Oklahoma State’s starting pitching.  Ironcially enough, it came against a pitcher that they knocked all over the field a year ago in Stillwater in Tyler Blandford.  In fact, about the only Husker Blandford didn’t have in check was Nick Sullivan who was 2 for 4 with a homerun and two RBIs.

Husker starter Michael Mariot couldn’t keep the Oklahoma State bats quiet.  Mariot spent too much time over the plate and the Cowboys came up swinging most of the afternoon.  Mariot lasted just 3 innings, gave up 8 hits to just 16 batters and allowed 4 runs.

The Huskers made it close in the 6th when Kyle Bubak reached with one out.  Bubak proceeded to steal 2nd and then came around to score on two wild pitches to notch the game at 4-2.  However, the Huskers weren’t able to do any more damage as Adam Bailey struck out to end the inning.

A look back: The Good

Adam Bailey- Again, Adam continued to show he’s one of the better hitters in the Big XII this year.  The JUCO transfer hit .381 for the week with a homer, 5 RBI and scored 8 times.  Adam is tied for the Big XII lead with 9 homeruns and leads the Big XII with 33 RBI.  He flat out is just getting it done at the plate.
Nick Sullivan - Just two weeks ago, Sullivan only held a .182 average, and for the 2nd week in a row, Nick was able to break out a little, posting a .333 average (.467 OBP) and with a homerun, lifting his season average to .254.
Jordan Roualdes - While allowing 4 runs over 7 innings isn’t going to turn any heads, I’m sure Mike Anderson will tell you that he’s been one of the Huskers most valuable pitchers on this young staff.  He’s been able to go deep into games almost every week and keep the young bullpen arms rested for the Friday and Sunday games.
Jeff Tezak - Tezak’s presence back in the lineup after being injured all year last year is very welcome.  Tezak continued to be one of Nebraska’s most consistent hitters posting a .357 average and a .526 on base percentage as well as 4 runs and 4 RBIs to help the Huskers.
Cody Neer - Despite a rough midweek game and a rough game on Sunday, Cody drove in 8 runs and scored twice in the Friday and Saturday victories for the Huskers, including a late 3-run bomb on Saturday to put the game away for good.  If Cody can learn some consistency and stay under control at the plate, he should see more of the starting lineup.
Jake Mort -Again, Jake is forcing Mike Anderson to keep him in the lineup.  The Senior hit .313 on the week and scored 5 times to help power the Huskers.
Matt Freeman -Matt Freeman has shown, that when he’s got his control, he’s one of Nebraska’s better pitchers. On the year, opposing hitters are batting an abysmal .148 against him (2.81 ERA), but also leads the team with 17 walks. This week, Freeman pitched better, going 7 innings in 4 appearances, allowing just 2 runs and striking out 4 while walking 4. 

A look back: The Not So Good

Runners left in scoring position (Wed) - Scoring just 1 run with the bases loaded and no outs twice really hurt the Huskers.  Had they been able to capitalize and possibly win the first game at Arkansas, they may find themselves ranked this week.  Posting a 4-1 record over two Top 15 opponents would have been huge.
Erik Bird - I’m not sure what’s wrong with Bird, but he’s really struggled as of late.  In his last two starts, he’s pitched 4.2 innings and given up 9 earned runs for a 17.36 ERA.

Overall Grade: B+
It’s hard to give them any lower, because they did go 3-2 against two Top 15 teams this week, including an impressive ‘last at-bat’ come from behind win over Arkansas on Wednesday and two convincing wins against what is probably one of the top 2 or 3 pitching duos in Oklahoma State on Friday and Saturday.  However, as you’ve been warned, the inconsistency of the team is still keeping them from being one of the very best in the Big XII.  On one end they got just one run out of two bases-loaded no out situations on Wednesday and they were hancuffed by the least heralded pitcher they saw on Sunday.  On the other end, they went up against two of the best pitchers they’re going to see all year in Oliver and Lyons and treated them like batting practice.    For the pitchers, even though we dropped our walk/9 rate this weekend, we are still walking too many and need to get that under control. The Big XII is just too darn competitive to be giving away free passes.  The bright side is, that when they play consistent baseball, they’ve shown they can play with anybody.

The Huskers take on Northern Colorado in the midweek before heading to Norman Oklahoma to face the #8 Oklahoma Sooners.  Oklahoma can be summed up in one word, offense.  They lead the Big XII in runs (248), homeruns (40), average (.348 team average), hits (309), doubles (63) and walks (111).  Fortunately, they’re 7th in the Big XII in pitching with a 5.16 ERA.  Expect some high scoring, whoever scores last types of games.  If you’re an old-fashioned pitchers duel kind of fan, you might want to look away.

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Husker Baseball

Week 4 Recap

The Huskers dropped their first Big XII series of the season 1-2 this week in Lubbock against the Red Raiders of Texas Tech.  As I’ve said before, this year’s team is young and inexperienced, especially on the mound.  There are going to be stretches where this team looks great and some stretches where Coach Anderson will lose hair on his head. The good news is the talent seems to be there and as the players learn Division I baseball, they will get better and more consistent. 

The last two weeks combined are probably a sample of what we’ll see all year.  Last week the pitching was good and the hitting was even better.  This week, the hitting was still solid, but the pitching, especially the bullpen, was hit or miss.  Again, this was to be expected.  None of Nebraska’s starters (Nesseth, Roualdes, and Mariot) saw any significant time as a starter last year and most of our main core of relievers either weren’t in a Husker uniform last year or very part-time players.  The Big XII is a great league this year and there are going to be some times where our youth is exposed. 

The 17 walks on the weekend (often a sign of young pitching) played a big part and while it’s tough to work on mid-season, it will have to be a point of focus for this coaching staff.  Even though we’ve seen some consistent scoring from the offense so far, I doubt that the coaches are comfortable being in a slugfest week in a week out.

Nebraska 8 - Texas Tech 16 (Game 1)
After a rainout on Friday, the Huskers opened the series with a double-header on Saturday.  In the first game, everything looked to be going the Huskers way to open the series with a Friday night “W”.  In the 7th inning, the Huskers held a 6-4 lead, the “Ace” of the staff Mike Nesseth is on the hill.  However, after Nesseth allowed the leadoff runner to reach, Eric Rose, Casey Hauptman, and Matt Freeman couldn’t stop the Red Raiders.  The trio combined for just 1 out, allowed 6 runs (5 earned) on 5 hits and 2 walks that allowed Texas Tech to blow the game wide open 11-6.  The Huskers got a couple back in the top of the 8th, but the Red Raiders struck back in the bottom of the frame with 5 more runs (2 unearned), putting the game out of reach.   Nick Sullivan powered the offense with a 3 for 5, 2-run and 2-rbi day that included a pair of doubles.  Tyler Farst also contributed with a 2 for 3 day with an RBI and 2 runs.

Nebraska 10 - Texas Tech 1
Fortunately for the Huskers, Jordan Roualdes quickly helped the team forget about the  woes of the first game.  Roualdes scatted 5 hits, allowed 1 run and struck out 3 and it was just what the team needed to recover from the pasting the pitching staff received the game before.  Adam Bailey powered the offense once again with a 2-run homerun and a 2-run double.  Jeff Tezak chipped in 2 RBIs and Cory Burleson went 2 for 3 and scored twice.

Nebraska 3 - Texas Tech 10
Again, Nebraska seemed to be cruising.  They had already posted 2 runs against Texas Tech ace AJ Ramos and in the bottom of the 4th, Mariot seemed to be able to get out of the small jams he had been in up to that point.  Over the next 4 innings, Texas Tech scored all 10 of their runs, all of which came with 2 out in the inning.  Had the Husker pitching staff been able to record 4 outs when they needed, they would have shut out the Red Raiders and won the series.  Adam Bailey chipped in a 2 for 4 day with 2 runs and an RBI and his 8th homerun of the year.  Tyler Farst also continued his offensive tear with his own 2 for 4 day and 2 RBIs.

A look back: The Good

Adam Bailey- At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it’s amazing what Adam’s done for the offense so far this year.  He still leads the Big XII in homeruns with 8 and also leads the Big XII in RBIs with 28.  I’m pretty sure that most Husker fans (this one included) would not have expected to have anyone in the lineup leading either category 4 weeks into the season.  He is flat out swinging a hot bat and the rest of the team is responding.
Nick Sullivan - Coming into the weekend, Sullivan only held a .182 average, Nick broke out a little this weekend, posting a .385 average raising his overall average to .235.
Jordan Roualdes - Especially with the way the rest of the weekend went for the Husker pitching staff, it’s tough to put into words the importance of Roualdes’ dominating performance in game 2 on Saturday.  Roualdes held the Red Raiders to just a single run and chewed up 8 innings giving the young bullpen a much needed rest after the pasting they received earlier in the day.  Roualdes has been pretty solid all year, but this was definitely his best outing yet.
Jake Mort - With the emergence of Cody Asche, the senior has taken more of a late-game defensive replacement role for the Huskers.  However, Jake made the most of his few opportunities against the Red Raiders.  In just 3 plate appearances, Jake posted 2 doubles and a single, driving in 2 and scoring twice himself.  If Jake can prove himself a capable hitter, expect to see him on the field a lot as his glove is probably the best on the team.  However, Coach Anderson will want to find somewhere for Asche as he leads the team with a .390 average.
Nebraska Hitters - It’s been a long time since Nebraska has been an offensive team, but it should be pointed out that this year’s team is 4th in the Big XII in average (.301) and 6 regular players have posted an average greater than .300 (Asche .390, Bubak .389, Burleson .371, Bailey .364, Farst .364, Tezak .320).

A look back: The Not So Good

WALKS - 17 free passes over a 3-day weekend is unacceptable in the Big XII.  While it’s something you would expect from a young pitching staff, it’s also something that this group needs to find a way to fix ASAP.  On the season, the Huskers are giving up 4.99 walks per game.  Compared to last year’s 3.31, it’s easy to see part of the reason why this year’s staff has struggled so far.
Cody Neer - After tearing the cover off the ball a week ago, Cody went 0 for 6 against the Red Raiders.  With the hot bat Burleson is swinging, Neer needs to recover quickly or he’ll be relegated to the backup role.
Ben Kline - With a 1 for 9 performance at the plate and a pair of errors in Friday night’s game, Ben probably would like to forget this weekend and move on to the next.

Overall Grade: C+
The weekend wasn’t all bad as the offense still managed to produce 21 runs and the pitching staff really, outside of a few key moments was pretty good.  Had they been able to sew up 2 innings in the first game and get 4 outs at the right time in the 3rd game we’d be talking about a sweep instead of a Big XII opening losing record.  One thing baseball fans have learned over the years is not to put too much stock in any one weekend or even any one 5-10 game stretch.  This will be especially important this year as I’m guessing sometimes it will seem like we could make a run possibly into Omaha and other times it will look like we could stay home during the playoffs for just the 2nd time in 11 years.

The Huskers travel to Fayetteville Arkansas to face a familiar face to Husker fans in Dave Van Horn’s Razorbacks in a Tuesday/Wednesday matchup before heading back home to face Oklahoma State in the familiar confines of Hawks Field.  It should be interesting to see how the pitching staff responds as Arkansas is a very solid team and Oklahoma State is 3rd in the Big XII in runs scored.

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Husker Baseball

Week 3 Recap

The Huskers posted a perfect 5-0 record this week. The pitching was solid, but the real story was the offense.  The Husker bats pushed across 51 runs this week (10.2 per game) off 65 hits (13 per game) to drown out their opponents.  The Huskers took advantage of big innings scoring 5 or more runs in an inning 4 times.  The pitching certainly held it’s own, posting a 3.40 ERA on the week and a complete game victory on Friday.

Nebraska 11 - South Dakota State 2
Kyle Bubak sparked a 16-hit barrage with a 4-5 day in the leadoff spot scoring 4 times.  Casey Hauptman kept the South Dakota State Jakrabbits bats silent going 6 innings and giving up just a run on 4 hits and 3 Ks.  The game was back and forth until the Huskers scored 4 runs over the 5th and 6th inning and put the game away with 5 in the 8th.

On offense, Adam Bailey helped Bubak charge the Huskers going 2 for 5 with 4 RBIs including his 5th homer of the year.  Cody Asche and Cody Neer added two hits apeice to help the cause.

Nebraska 9 - Cal State Northridge 3
Mike Nesseth gave up back to back home runs in the 4th inning a 2-run shot then a solo shot, but otherwise kept the Matadors at bay for his first complete game victory of the season.  Adam Bailey powered the Husker offense with 3 RBIs and Tyler Farst scored twice.  The Huskers gave Nesseth all the runs he would need in a 5-run 2nd capped by Bailey’s 2-RBI single.

On the year, Nesseth is 2-1 with a 1.71 ERA and has struck out 26.  With the four game series over the weekend, the long outing allowed the Huskers to save their bullpen for the rest of the weekend.

Nebraska 11 - Cal State Northridge 5
The Huskers again erupted for a big 2nd inning scoring 7 runs and giving JUCO transfer Jordan Roualdes all the runs he needed.   A basese loaded two-out double from Cody Neer broke the game open and vaulted the Huskers out to a 6-0 lead.  Neer later scored on a Cody Asche single to center to cap the scoring at 7-0. 

Roualdes went 6 innings, allowing 3 earned runs for the win and Matt Freeman finished up the final 3 for the save allowing just 1 run.

Nebraska 12 - Cal State Northridge 6
In the nightcap, the Huskers fell behind quickly for the only time all week.  Senior Erik Bird struggled on the mound, lasting just 3 innings, allowing 5 runs on 6 hits and 4 walks.  The Huskers bats would pick him up, however, exploding for 8 runs in the bottom of the 4th to take their first lead of the ballgame.

After a Cade Thompson solo home run, the Huskers loaded the bases with two singles and a hit batter for Kyle Bubak.  Bubak singled to right, scoring two and bringing the Huskers within 1 run, 5-4.  After DJ Belfonte was hit by a pitch, Bailey put the huskers up 6-5 with a two run single up the middle.  After a pitching change, Farst drilled a 3-run bomb over the right field wall to give the Huskers a 9-5 lead. 

Nebraska 8 - Cal State Northridge 2
Michael Mariot dominated the Matadors on getaway day going 7 innings allowing just 1 earned run and walking just 1 while striking out 4 to earn his first win of the season.   Casey Hauptman finished the job, allowing 1 more run over 2 innings while fanning 4.

For the offense, Kyle Bubak continued his hot streak pounding out 4 hits in as many at bats drving in one and scoring twice.  Senior 3rd baseman Jake Mort hit just his 2nd homer of his career with a 3-run blast just over the wall in right-center.  Cody Neer also continued his hot hitting with a 2 for 4 day with 2 RBIs.

A look back: The Good

Kyle Bubak - The JUCO transfer was a terror at the plate this week.  Kyle was 12 of 23 for a .522 average with 5 RBIs powering the Huskers.
Adam Bailey - In what’s becoming the norm for Bailey, the JUCO transfer was a run producing machine with a team-leading 11 RBIs to go with 2 homeruns and a salty .421 average, Bailey now leads the Big XII in homers, RBIs and is 2nd in the league in total bases.
Cody Neer - It was looking like incoming freshman Cory Burleson was going to take over as the frontrunner for the catcher position, but Cody wasn’t going away quietly.  Posting a team-leading .538 average for the week with 6 RBIs including 4 for the first game on Saturday, it’s clear we have a heated race for the crucial battery spot.
DJ Belfonte - This was a week DJ needed.  After a rough start to the season with a sub .200 average, DJ bounced back this week posting a .429 average and raising his season average to .241.  The Huskers will need DJ to produce this season for it all to come together.
Mike Nesseth - Going the distance in Friday’s 9-3 win was not only a dominating performance (aside from the two pitches he’d like to have back) but it allowed the Huskers to preserve their bullpen for the rest of the weekend, something very important in a long 4-game series.
Michael Mariot - After a rough start a week ago, Michael bounced back showing that when he has his control, he’s one of Nebraska’s top pitchers.
Casey Hauptman - Mike Anderson has compared Casey to Dan Jennings, a guy you can call on when you really need some outs. On the week, he pitched 8.0 innings, gave up just 2 earned runs and struck out 7 to preserve his team-leading 1.45 ERA.
Free Passes - Putting aside the 7 walks that the Huskers surrendered on Saturday night, the team gave just 4 free passes in the other 4 games.  So far this season, when the team has struggled on the mound it’s been when the control isn’t there.  For this team to succeed, Coach Newman needs to get his message accross and eliminate the free pass.

A look back: The Not So Good

Erik Bird - The senior righty has had a rough start to the season.  In 3 starts he’s averaged less than 4 innings of work and surrendered 12 earned runs for a team-high 9.26 ERA.  The Huskers will need Erik this season to bring some leadership to a young pitching staff.
Nick Suillivan - Nick has had a rough start to the year, batting just .184 while starting 11 of the 14 games with just 1 extra base hit.  Nick’s a solid glove in the outfield, but the Huskers will need his bat to start heating up, especially in conference play when you suspect the young hitters will drop a little due to tougher competition.

Overall Grade: A-
The offensive explosion was nice to see out of this Husker team with some of the veterans stepping up and a continued push from the youngsters.  The pitching was solid, but the 7 free passes on Saturday night is like the cold bug that won’t go away.  We certainly can’t do that against the UTs, aTms and OUs of the world.

The Huskers take the midweek off and start Big XII play at Lubbock, Texas against the 6-8 Red Raiders of Texas Tech.

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Husker Baseball

Week 2 Recap

The Huskers posted a 3-2 record this week.  Overall we saw what we pretty much expected of this team from the beginning.  They’re young and talented which typically translates to inconsistency.  However, you have to love the fight that this team has displayed.  You can’t ever count them out as they proved again that they can come from behind at any time.

Nebraska 10 - North Dakota 6
On Wednesday, the Huskers squeezed in a home game during some unseasonal warm weather at Hawks field posting a 10-6 victory over the visiting Fighting Sioux.  The young Husker pitching walked 10 batters to keep the game close, but in the end, the more talented Nebraska team pulled away.  JUCO transfer Adam Bailey led the offensive surge that would eventually finish off North Dakota with a 3 for 5 day that drove in 6 RBIs including a 3-run blast to put the Huskers back in it.   Tyler Farst and Khiry Cooper both chipped in 2 RBIs a piece and DJ Belfonte scored twice to pace the Huskers.

Nebraska 14 - Missouri State 12
To call this game a thriller might be understating things a bit.  The pesky Husker offense managed to overcome a 4+ run deficit 3 times in one game!  If you liked constant scoring, this was the game for you. 

The Huskers got themselves in trouble early, allowing Missouri State to build a 5-0 lead in the first inning but fought their way back with 3 in the first and 1 in the second.  The Bears extended their lead with a run in the 3rd and two in the 4th for a 8-4 lead.  In the sixth, the Huskers finally answered back.  Junior Adam Bailey opened the frame with his third homerun of the year to draw the Huskers within 3.  With two outs, Junior Cade Thompson started the Huskers rally with a walk and scored on true Freshman Cory Burleson’s RBI double to bring the Huskers within 2.  That hit chased preseason All-American starter Tim Clubb and the Huskers didn’t wait long to attack the bullpen.  True Freshman Kale Kiser drilled a shot over the right-center wall to even the game at 8.

Missouri State looked to have finally put away the Huskers when they plated 1 run in the top of the 7th and 3 runs in the top of the 8th for a commanding 12-8 lead with just 2 at bats left fort he Huskers.  Nick Sullivan got things going in the bottom of the 8th when he was hit by a pitch.  Cody Asche singled and both runners advanced on a wild pitch to put two in scoring position.  Thompson and Burleson hit back-to-back singles to bring the Huskers within 2 at 12-10.  Kiser laid down a perfect sacrifice to move both runners over and DJ Belfonte’s groundout scored Thompson to bring the Huskers within 1.

Then, in what Coach Anderson called the best at-bat of the day, Ben Kline fought back from an 0-2 count and smacked a 3-2 pitch over the right side of the infield to score pinch-runner Boomer Collins to tie the game at 12.  Two batters later, with Kline and Tezak aboard, Bailey delivered the go-ahead dagger in the form of a 2-RBI triple on yet another full-count pitch. 

True Freshman Kash Kalkowski, a Grand Island, NE native, allowed just one baserunner in the 9th to pickup his first win of his Husker career.

Nebraska 5 - St. Mary’s 7
It looked early like Nebraska might finally win a game without having to come from behind.  Fast forward to the 7th inning, Nebraska has a 3-0 lead and Senior Eric Bird is on the mound controlling St. Mary’s hitters all day long.  In the 7th, Bird gave up a solo homerun to start the inning, then followed by a couple singles and a SAC bunt St. Mary’s had the tying run in scoring position.  The next batter hit a grounder between third and short which the Husker shortstop Kline tried to backhand, but was unable and was charged for an error.

Nebraska went to it’s bullpen to try and stop the bleeding, but reliever Eric Rose allowed a walk and a double to give the Gael’s a 5-3 lead.  In the bottom of the frame, Sullivan drove home Tezak on a sacrifice fly and a St. Mary’s infield misplayed a Cody Asche grounder allowing the Huskers to tie it at 5-5.

After both teams failed to score in the 8th and 9th, St. Mary’s scored two runs in the 10th when the Gael’s Cory Miller hit a bouncing ground ball that was too tall for a drawn in Husker 1st baseman Tyler Farst. 

Nebraska 8 - Sam Houston St. 1
This is what most expected out of Mike Nesseth for this fall, domination. In his 6 shutout innings he struck out 12 and allowed just 3 singles from the tournament hosts.  Nesseth’s only weak spot was the 4 free passes he surrendered but at no point did the Bearcats mount a real threat as Nesseth didn’t even allow a ball out of the infield until after the 5th.  Adam Bailey, who has been a dominant force with a bat in his hands, pitched the final three innings surrendering just an uneared run to seal the 8-1 win.

The offense was led by a couple of true freshman.  Cody Asche drove in 3 runs on his first homerun of the year and Cory Burleson drove in 2 more on 4 hits to power the Huskers.

Nebraska 2 - Missouri State 3
Jordan Roualdes gave up 3 runs on 5 hits and struckout 4 over 6 innings to keep the Huskers in the game, but the offense couldn’t hold up it’s end of the bargain.  Twice in the late innings the Huskers got the first two runners on. 

In the 7th, consecutive singles from Adam Bailey and Tyler Farst gave the Huskers runners on first and second with no outs and managed to get just one run on a two out walk by Kale Kiser.  In the 8th, again the Huskers got things going with a walk, a single and an error to put runners on 2nd and 3rd with nobody out.  Again, the Huskers let the opportunity slip away with a popout behind the plate, a sacrifice fly to right by Farst (scoring Sullivan) and a flyout by Ben Kline.

Casey Hauptman pitched two more scoreless innings to keep the Husker within 1, but they were unable to capitalize.

What we know
Here we are, two weeks into the season and while we’ve learned a couple things about this team, but we still have many questions unanswered.  This team is very young with just 4 seniors seeing playing time this weekend (Jake Mort is the 5th senior on the team, but has been injured).  Eighteen players who saw significant playing time are either Freshman (7), Sophomores (7), or 1st year JUCO transfers (4). 

The end result of having a young team is high-energy, lots of walks, fielding mistakes, and baserunning errors.  Hopefully by the middle of the season Coach Anderson and Coach Newman will have corrected many of the bad habits and when they do, this team will be a very decent squad.  The talent is there, but it’s raw and undisciplined.  For now, the future looks bright.

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NebraskaNebraska football and baseball recruit Khiry Cooper as most people know was drafted last week in the 5th round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Los Angeles Angels.  Cooper is still unsure if he will sign with the Angels or stay in Lincoln and be part of the Huskers.

Right now Cooper is in Lincoln but has dropped his summer classes that he had planned on taking.  Once a player is enrolled in a division one school, he would not be able to be drafted once again until after their junior season.  Right now it is a waiting game between Cooper and the Angels.

Cooper has to decide if $125,000-$150,000 is a big enough signing bonus to pull him away from Nebraska.  He has said that he hopes to have a decision in the next week or so.

So what do you think? Will Cooper be a Husker or an Angel?

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