The Nebraska baseball team (12-7, 3-0 Big Ten) travels to Minneapolis, Minn., this weekend to resume conference play when the Huskers visit Minnesota (9-13, 3-0 Big Ten) for a three-game series at Siebert Field. This weekend’s games are set for Friday (4 p.m.), Saturday (1 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.).
Nebraska and Minnesota are two of three teams with perfect 3-0 records in conference play this season, along with Indiana. The Gophers swept Penn State last weekend to set up the pivotal showdown with the Big Red this weekend.
The Huskers, riding a six-game winning streak, leave the state for the first time since March 10. During that span, NU swept Air Force and Michigan State before topping Creighton in Omaha on Tuesday night. Nebraska is ranked 40th in this week’s RPI. The Huskers’ strength of schedule is 53rd nationally.
The Golden Gophers, who won the Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles before advancing to the Super Regionals last season, will be hosting their first home series of 2019 when the Huskers visit Minneapolis. Minnesota is ranked 53rd in the latest RPI, released by the NCAA on Monday.
Last Time Out
The Huskers defeated Creighton, 6-3, at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha on Tuesday night.
The Huskers travel to Manhattan, Kan., on Tuesday to face former conference foe Kansas State. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. (CT) and the game will be streamed live on ESPN3.
How to Listen/Watch the Huskers
• Fans can listen to Greg Sharpe and Nick Handley call the action for all three games this weekend on the Learfield/IMG Husker Sports Network.
• All three games can be heard on Huskers.com and the Official Nebraska Huskers App for both iOS and android devices.
• All three games will be carried on TuneIn.com and the TuneIn App on the Husker Sports Network channel.
• Fans in Lincoln can listen on 1400 AM and fans in Omaha can listen on 590 AM.
• The games will be streamed live on BTN Plus, with a paid subscription required to watch.
Scouting the Minnesota Golden Gophers
• Nebraska leads the all-time series against Minnesota, 28-27-1, including an 18-17-1 edge in true road games. The series history dates back to 1901.
• Last season, Minnesota won 2-of-3 against Nebraska at Hawks Field, March 23-25. The Golden Gophers finished the season with a 44-15 record overall, winning the Big Ten regular-season title after an 18-4 mark in conference play. Minnesota won the Big Ten Tournament and then advanced to Super Regionals, where the Gophers fell to eventual national champion Oregon State.
• This season, Minnesota is 9-13 overall with a 3-0 record in Big Ten play. Last weekend, the Gophers opened Big Ten play by sweeping Penn State on the road. On Wednesday night, they defeated Augsburg, 9-3.
• Head Coach John Anderson is 1,296-873-3 in his 38th season overall. He is assisted by Patrick Casey, Ty McDevitt and Brandon Hunt.
• Players to Watch
» No. 23 Max Meyer (Sophomore RHP/OF): Team-high .299 batting average at the plate and a 2-1 record and 1.24 ERA with 34 strikeouts in eight appearances on the mound
» No. 4 Eli Wilson (Junior C): Hitting .286 wth 24 hits and shares the team high with seven doubles
» No. 7 Jordan Kozicky (Junior INF): Batting .284 with a team-high 21 RBIs
Strong Starts Set the Tone
• Nebraska enters the weekend on a six-game winning streak in large part due to its starting pitching. NU’s starters have gone 4-0 during that stretch.
• During the six-game stretch, Nebraska’s starters have combined to pitch 32.0 innings and allowed only four runs. Those pitchers have combined to record 29 strikeouts and only four walks.
• Matt Waldron pitched a complete-game two-hitter during the first game of a doubleheader against Michigan State on March 22. He allowed only one run to go along with six strikeouts and zero walks.
• Nate Fisher, making his first start since his 8.0 no-hit innings on March 9, went 7.1 innings in the second game of the March 22 doubleheader and allowed only one run.
• Freshman Kyle Perry earned nine strikeouts in 4.0 innings as the starter on March 20 against Air Force and gave up only one run. On Tuesday night at Creighton, he gave up one run in 3.2 innings and tallied four strikeouts.
• Senior Reece Eddins made two starts during the five-game stretch, amassing 8.0 scoreless innings and allowed only three hits during that time.
Offense Among the Best in the Big Ten
• As a team, Nebraska ranks tied for third in the Big Ten in batting average (.279) this season.
• Individually, Aaron Palensky ranks 12th in the conference in batting average (.329). He has two triples this season, which is tied for first in the Big Ten with six other players.
Waldron Racking Up Strikeouts
• Senior right-hander Matt Waldron, who has made three starts and five appearances overall, leads the team with 32 strikeouts this season.
• Waldron has allowed only two walks, and his 16.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio ranks first in the Big Ten and eighth in the nation.
• Waldron leads the Husker pitching staff in ERA (1.86) and innings pitched (29.0), while sharing the team high in wins (3) with Nate Fisher.
• Waldron has 192 career strikeouts, which ranks 10th in program history. Zach Kroenke (196) ranks ninth and Jamie Rodrigue (200) ranks eighth on the Nebraska’s career strikeouts list.
Palensky Powers Husker Offense
• Sophomore Aaron Palensky, a junior college transfer, enters the weekend with a team-high .329 batting average and is one of two players on the team to start all 19 games this season.
• Palensky leads the Husker offense in hits (25), doubles (6), triples (2), total bases (35) and slugging percentage (.461). He shares the team high in runs scored (15) and ranks second in RBIs (14).
• Palensky has at least one hit in 17 of 19 games this season, and shares the team best with seven multi-hit efforts. He opened the year on an 11-game hitting streak, the longest by a Husker in 2019.
There’s No Place Like Home
• Nebraska is off to a perfect 5-0 start at home after sweeping Air Force and Michigan State last week at Hawks Field.
• Nebraska played its long-awaited home opener on March 19 after each of the first eight scheduled home games had either been canceled, postponed or moved to a new location due to weather and/or field conditions.
• It marked Nebraska’s latest home opener since 1978 when the Huskers first played a home game that season on March 28. The 1978 squad played 17 games away from Lincoln before its home opener. This season, the first 13 games were played away from home.
• The Omaha game, originally scheduled as the home opener for March 5, was postponed. The North Dakota State game, scheduled for March 13, was also postponed. The teams are looking for a date later in the season to make up those games.
• The Baylor series, March 8-10, was moved from Lincoln to Waco, Texas due to cold weather and snowy conditions.
• The New Mexico State series, originally slated for March 15-17, was canceled due to field conditions.
Huskers Scheduled to Make Eight TV Appearances
• The Huskers scheduled to make eight television appearances across five different networks during the 2019 regular season.
• NU will be on NET three times this season, including April 5 (Purdue), April 27 (Illinois) and May 10 (Arizona State).
• The Huskers will make two appearances on the Big Ten Network, including April 20 (Iowa) and April 26 (Illinois).
• Nebraska’s lone ESPNU showing will be April 7, when Purdue visits Hawks Field.
• The two remaining games against Creighton will be televised. The April 9 game at Hawks Field will be on Fox Sports 1, while the April 23 match-up will be on CBS Sports Network.
• Seven of NU’s TV games will take place in the month of April before its one scheduled TV appearance in May.
Newcomers Making Their Mark
• Nebraska’s nationally ranked recruiting class has played a key role for the Huskers so far this season. One-third of the Huskers to register at-bats this season are newcomers (6-of-18). In addition, five newcomers have made pitching appearances, including Bo Blessie, who made his college debut on Tuesday night at Creighton.
• D1 Baseball ranked NU’s class 16th nationally and the best among all Big Ten teams, six spots ahead of second-best Illinois.
• Baseball America tabbed the group among its top-35 recruiting classes. After announcing its top 25, Baseball America released its “Next 10” in alphabetical order. Nebraska was one of two Big Ten teams on the list, along with No. 24 Illinois.
• Rawlings/Perfect Game ranked Nebraska’s recruiting class 37th nationally and third in the Big Ten, behind No. 32 Purdue and No. 36 Indiana.
• The Huskers welcome 15 newcomers to the roster this season, including 11 freshmen, as the entire recruiting class made it to campus.
• Two newcomers – Spencer Schwellenbach and Bo Blessie – were drafted in June 2018, but chose to come to Nebraska to play college baseball. Schwellenbach was selected in the 34th round by the Cleveland Indians, while Blessie was drafted in the 36th round by the Washington Nationals.
• Four newcomers – Aaron Palenksy (Southeast CC), Trey Kissack (UNC Greensboro/Southeast CC), Ty Roseberry (Nebraska-Kearney) and Gareth Stroh (Purdue/Coffeyville CC) – bring previous college baseball experience to NU’s roster. Stroh and Kissack will sit out this season.
• One of Nebraska’s strengths under Head Coach Darin Erstad has been the bullpen. This season, the Huskers have recorded five saves, led by Colby Gomes, who has four saves individually.
• Last season, Nebraska earned 16 saves, marking the eighth consecutive season the Huskers have recorded double-digit saves.
• Nebraska has had a pitcher earn 10 or more saves in each of the last five seasons after no Husker pitcher reached the 10-save milestone during the previous seven seasons (2007-13).
Nebraska’s Record with the Lead Since 2012
» After six innings: 194-20 (8-0 this season)
» After seven innings: 209-10 (12-0 this season)
» After eight innings: 221-6 (12-0 this season)
Huskers Working Through Rigorous Schedule
• Nebraska has the No. 53 strength of schedule in the nation, according to WarrenNolan.com.
• Nebraska played eight of its first 13 games against top-25 opponents away from home. Five of those games were against 2018 College World Series teams (Oregon State and Texas Tech).
• As a whole, Nebraska’s schedule features games against five NCAA Tournament qualifiers from last season, including two College World Series participants.
• Before cancellations, Nebraska was scheduled to play 2018 CWS qualifier Mississippi State (March 3) and 2018 NCAA Tournament team New Mexico State (March 15-17), which would’ve given NU a schedule with seven NCAA teams, three of which made the CWS last season.
• The Huskers also face each of the top four teams from last year’s Big Ten standings.
• Nebraska visits reigning Big Ten regular-season and tournament champion Minnesota this weekend, a team which advanced to Super Regionals before falling to eventual national champion Oregon State.
• The other 2018 NCAA Tournament qualifiers on Nebraska’s schedule are Baylor and Purdue. NU won 2-of-3 against Baylor, March 8-10, in Waco, Texas. The Boilermakers finished second in the Big Ten regular-season standings and took runner-up honors at the conference tournament.
• Michigan and Illinois, who finished third and fourth, respectively, in the Big Ten last season each visit Hawks Field this season.
• Nebraska’s penultimate regular-season series is against Arizona State (May 10-12) at Hawks Field. The series history between the Huskers and Sun Devils includes NU’s first win in a College World Series game in 2005.
• The Big Ten teams not included in Nebraska’s 2019 regular-season schedule are Indiana, Maryland, Ohio State and Rutgers.
• The conference tournament returns to TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, May 22-26, after previously hosting the event in 2014, 2016 and 2018. The Big Ten Tournament will return to TD Ameritrade Park from 2020 to 2022.
Erstad Among Winningest Coaches in NU History
• Head Coach Darin Erstad (247-176-1) became the fourth-winningest head coach in program history last season after reaching the 200-win milestone in 2017. He is three wins away from the 250th win of his career.
Most Wins by a Head Coach in Nebraska Baseball History
John Sanders: 767 wins (1978-97; 20 seasons)
Tony Sharpe: 399 wins (1947-77; 31 seasons)
Mike Anderson: 337 wins (2003-11; 9 seasons)
Darin Erstad: 247 wins (2012-present; 7 seasons)
Dave Van Horn: 214 wins (1998-2002; 5 seasons)
• Erstad, the 2017 Big Ten Coach of the Year, holds a conference record of 99-68-1 as the head coach at Nebraska. He is one Big Ten win away from his 100th career conference win.
Nebraska Coaches with More Than 100 Conference Wins
» Tony Sharpe went 240-260-0 in 31 years
» John Sanders went 239-221-0 in 20 years
» Mike Anderson went 125-116-1 in nine years
Hawks Field Celebrates 18th Year in 2019
• The 2019 campaign marks Nebraska’s 18th year playing home games at Hawks Field at Haymarket Park. The Huskers moved to Hawks Field in 2002 after playing at Buck Beltzer Stadium for 23 years from 1979 to 2001.
• Nebraska holds a 357-133-1 record at Hawks Field, which includes a 5-0 mark this season. NU has posted a winning record at home in each of the last 17 seasons.
• Nebraska has won 60 percent or more of its home games 14 times over the last 17 seasons.
• Since Head Coach Darin Erstad took over in 2012, the Huskers are 128-55 at Hawks Field. He has posted 20-win seasons at home in three of his first seven years at Nebraska, including 21-win seasons at home in 2015 and 2016.
• Nebraska has ranked in the top 30 nationally in average attendance in each of the past 17 years. Last season, the Huskers ranked 12th in the nation with an average of 4,203 fans per home game (over a span of 25 games).
• In 2017, the Huskers welcomed an average of 5,395 fans per home game, which ranked sixth in the nation. NU also ranked sixth nationally in 2016 when a school-record average of 5,423 fans attended home games for the Huskers.