No. 20 Nebraska Open Big Ten Tournament with Ohio State
Wednesday, May 21 – 1:05 p.m. (CT) Probable Starters: RHP Sinclair (9-1) vs. LHP Tully (6-3) TV: None Stream: Free Radio (Huskers.com) | Video Stream (None) Radio: Husker Sports Network
Up Next for the Huskers
After wrapping up the regular season with a 2-1 series win over the Illinois Fighting Illini, the No. 20 Nebraska baseball team (37-18, 18-6 Big Ten) enters the postseason as the No. 2 seed at the Big Ten Tournament.
The Huskers open tournament play on Wednesday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. when they meet the No. 7 seed Ohio State Buckeyes (30-26, 10-14 Big Ten) at TD Ameritrade Park in downtown Omaha.
The Huskers and Buckeyes met earlier this season for a three-game series in Lincoln, with NU sweeping the series. All three games were close, as Nebraska posted three-straight comeback victories, including a pair of walk-off wins, while NU’s starting rotation of Christian DeLeon, Chance Sinclair and Aaron Bummer each threw complete games.
Wednesday will be the fourth time in three years that the Huskers and Buckeyes have meet at the Big Ten Tournament.
At the 2012 tournament in Columbus, Ohio, the Buckeyes ended NU’s season with a 6-2 win in an elimination game. Last season in Minneapolis, the Buckeyes knocked the Huskers out of the winner’s bracket with a 3-2 win, before the Huskers eliminated the Buckeyes two days later, 5-0.
Nebraska Starter - Chance Sinclair
Chance Sinclair is scheduled to make his 15th start of the season on Wednesday, and will be in search of his 10 win of the year. The junior is 9-1 and ranks second in the Big Ten with a 1.88 ERA
Sinclair is coming off his 12th start of at least 6.0 innings, following a 7.0-inning outing against Illinois.
Sinclair is one of three pitchers in the Big Ten with an ERA under 2.00, as Joey DeNato leads the league with a 1.83 ERA and DeNato’s teammate Christian Morris ranks third with a 1.99 ERA.
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.
On the Radio this Week
Fans across Nebraska and around the world can listen to Greg Sharpe and Ben McLaughlin 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 Ohio State Game
Web Streams for Ohio State Game
Nebraska-Ohio State History
The Huskers lead the all-time series against the Buckeyes, 8-6, with NU also holding a 7-5 advantage since the Huskers joined the Big Ten Conference for the 2012 season.
The all-time series started in 1991 when the Buckeyes earned a 5-2 victory in Phoenix, Ariz. The Huskers evened the series in 2001 with a 10-5 victory at the Mardi Gras Ball in Lafayette, La.
Ohio State won the first ever conference meeting, 10-2, in April 13, 2012, but the Huskers won the series in Columbus two days later with a doubleheader sweep.
The Buckeyes eliminated the Huskers from the 2012 Big Ten Tournament with a 6-2 victory.
Last season the Huskers took the first game of a three-game set in Lincoln, but then the Buckeyes came back and won the next two games, including a 6-5 winning in 11 innings on Saturday.
OSU knocked the Huskers into the losers bracket at the 2013 Big Ten Tournament, but the Huskers got revenge two days later with a 5-0 victory that eliminated Ohio State from postseason play.
Nebraska swept the Buckeyes this season in Lincoln, with NU’s weekend starters each throwing complete games.
Nebraska & Ohio State Series (NU leads 8-6)
2014 at NU W, 2-1
at NU W, 4-3
at NU W, 3-2
2013 Neutral W, 5-0
Neutral L, 3-2
at NU L, 7-4
at NU L, 6-5 (11)
at NU W, 11-2
2012 Neutral L, 6-2
at OSU W, 17-9
at OSU W, 5-4
at OSU L, 10-2
2001 Neutral W, 10-5
1991 Neutral L, 5-2
Over the Past 10 Games for Nebraska
• Nebraska was 9-1, including an 4-0 road record and an 8-1 Big Ten record.
• Pat Kelly hit .429 (15-for-35) with three doubles, two home runs and 15 RBIs
• Michael Pritchard hit a team-high four doubles
• Zach Hirsch threw 10.2 innings of scoreless relief
• Nebraska’s offense worked 32 walks and was HBP four times, while striking out 47 times.
• Blake Headley hit .371 (13-for-35) with two doubles and two homers
• Pat Kelly and Blake Headley each had five multi-hit games
• Four Huskers had double-digit hits, including Pat Kelly (15), Blake Headley (13), Michael Pritchard (12) and Ryan Boldt (11)
• Jake Placzek scored a team-best 10 runs and walked a team-high seven times
• Nebraska out-homered opponents 9-to-4
• Nebraska pitchers totaled 68 strikeouts, while walking 23
• Nebraska posted a .280 batting average, while holding opponents to a .204 average
• Closer Josh Roeder threw 5.1 innings of scoreless relief over five appearances, while earning a win and three saves
• Nebraska’s pitching staff posted a 2.12 ERA, while opposing pitchers were at a 5.66 ERA
• Nebraska outscored opponents 57-25
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 12 times this year the Huskers have been behind or tied after six innings and have come back to win.
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
Like Your Chances with Sinclair
Junior Chance Sinclair has been a key addition to the Husker pitching staff in 2014 with his 9-1 record and an 1.88 ERA, which ranks 63rd nationally and second in the Big Ten Conference.
A transfer from Neosho County CC, Sinclair has gone 6.0 or more innings in 12 of his 14 starts, including nine outings of at least 7.0 innings or more and a 9.0-inning complete game against Ohio State.
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 23-6 mark after starting the season 15-12.
The Huskers lost their first game in April, a 4-3 loss to Arkansas, and sat 15-13 on the year. Since the loss to the Razorbacks the Huskers have posted a 23-5 record.
Nebraska is 8-1 in the month of May after sweeping Penn State and Michigan State, along with a 2-1 series win over Illinois.
Win No. 100
Head Coach Darin Erstad enters the Big Ten Tournament with 101 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 101 (2012-present)
The Huskers ended the regular season with four straight Big Ten series wins, including victories over Michigan, Penn State, Michigan State and Illinois.
The Huskers last won fourth straight series as a member of the Big 12 Conference in 2008.
Nebraska opened league play with series wins over Kansas State, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech. The streak came to an end when NU dropped 2-of-3 at Oklahoma State.
Pencil Him In
Junior Pat Kelly has been a regular in the Husker lineup ever since he was a freshman in 2012.
Entering Wednesday’s game against Ohio State, Kelly has started 128 straight games dating back to his freshman season.
Kelly has started all 55 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.
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 the week ranked 10th in school history with 243 hits and is three hits shy of tying Darin Petersen (1992-95) for ninth in school history.
Kelly, a junior, ranks 20th in school history with 204 hits and needs 18 hits to tie John Cole (1992-95) for 19th on the chart. Kelly totaled a team-high 85 hits last season and his 68 hits this season lead the team, one ahead of Pritchard’s 67 hits.
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. He ended his career eighth in school history with 247 career hits.
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
9. 246 Darin Petersen 1992-95
10. 243 Michael Pritchard 2011-present
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. 204 Pat Kelly 2012-present
21. 203 Ken Harvey 1997-99
22. 201 Francis Collins 1995-97
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.
Extending the Season
The Huskers punched their ticket to their third straight Big Ten Tournament on Sunday, May 4 with their win over Penn State. The Huskers failed to reach the Big 12 Tournament during their final three seasons in the league from 2009-2011.
The last time the Huskers made three-straight trips to the conference tournament was 2006-2007-2008.
Nebraska is also looking to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008.
Walk it Off
Following a 10th-inning three-run homer by Pat Kelly that powered Nebraska to a 7-4 win over Illinois in the finale game of the 2014 regular season, the Huskers have posted five 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)
Rely on Roeder
Since blowing a save at Iowa on March 21, junior closer Josh Roeder has converted nine straight save opportunities and enters the week ranked 17th in the country with 12 saves on the year.
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 2.37 ERA over 19.0 innings of work. He has struck out 21 and walked six.
Nebraska is 29-1 this year when leading after the eighth inning.
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 the week with 121 career RBIs and ranks second in the Big Ten with 51 RBIs, the most by a Husker since Cody Asche produced 56 in 2011.
Michael Pritchard needs 11 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.
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.
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 recently named to the NCBWA Mid-Season Stopper of the Year Award Watch List.
The one-time starter has made a team-high 27 appearances, all out of the pen, in 2014 and holds a 1.24 ERA, while holding opposing batters to a .183 average over 43.2 innings of work.
Hirsch is tied for second on the team with 45 strikeouts, as he is averaging 1.03 strikeout per inning, while walking only 11 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 two earned runs on eight hits over 16.1 innings of relief in 10 appearances.
Over Hirsch’s last seven appearances, he has thrown 11.1 innings of scoreless relief on five hits and nine strikeouts.
Hirsch has 18 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.
Michael Pritchard has been a hit machine during his career at Nebraska, ranking 10th all-time in school history with 243 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 23 games entering Wednesday, Pritchard has raised his average 57 points to .318.
He is hitting .391 during the stretch (36-for-92) with nine multi-hit games, including a career-high 5-for-5 night against Kansas State on April 15.
During the 23-game stretch Pritchard has 12 doubles and has notched 21 of his 42 RBIs on the season. Steven Reveles ranks second on the team with 10 doubles all season.
In 2014, Pritchard has 11 multi-RBI games, three more than the eight he had during his first three seasons at Nebraska combined.
The Huskers have produced double-digit hits 28 times this year in 55 games, including 14 of their 27 home games.
The Huskers are 23-5 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 29-1 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.
Loves the Big Ten
Junior infield Blake Headley enjoys playing in the Big Ten Conference, evident by his batting average in conference play.
Last season, Headley hit .284 on the year, but elevated his game during conference play with a .337 average.
This season, Headley is hitting a hearty .331 on the year and ranked 11th in the Big Ten with a .341 average during league play.
As of Monday morning, Nebraska had an RPI of 27 according to the WarrenNolan.com.
The Huskers have an 18-8 record against top-100 RPI teams, including a 6-5 record against top-50 RPI teams.
RPI Top-100 Wins
Oregon State - 1 (RPI 5)
Washington - 1 (RPI 19)
UNLV - 1 (RPI 26)
UC Irvine - 2 (RPI 38)
Arkansas - 1 (RPI 40)
Illinois - 2 (RPI 52)
Creighton - 2 (RPI 75)
Wichita State - 1 (RPI 81)
St. John’s - 3 (RPI 96)
Kansas State - 1 (RPI 97)
Minnesota - 3 (RPI 99)
Nebraska’s RPI has been hurt a bit by three losses to teams with an RPI of 200 or worse. The Huskers are 5-3 in games against RPI 200+ teams
RPI 200+ Losses
Northwestern - 2 (RPI 236)
Northern Colorado - 1 (RPI 299)
Senior Michael Pritchard enters the week with 19 doubles on the year, which ranks 26th nationally and second in the Big Ten to Blaise Salter’s 20 doubles.
With one more double this year, Pritchard would become the eight player at Nebraska since 2000 to total 20 doubles in a season.
Big Ten Bats
Nebraska’s has one of the best offenses in not only the Big Ten Conference, but also nationally.
Through Sunday, nationally Nebraska ranked:
Hits - 20th (558)
Average - 25th (.296)
Runs - 37th (331)
Triples - 37th (17)
The Huskers also rank first in the Big Ten in four major categories, including:
Hits (558) - Iowa 2nd (536)
RBIs (303) - Iowa 2nd (297)
Walks (201) - Iowa 2nd (195)
Sac Bunts (51) - Tied with Northwestern
Go the Distance
Nebraska’s rotation of Christian DeLeon, Chance Sinclair and Aaron Bummer were workhorses in a three-game sweep of Ohio State April 4-6, as all three pitchers tossed complete games.
No other staff in the country has thrown three 9.0-inning complete games in a weekend. Monmouth is the only other team that has come close with two 9.0-inning complete games along with a 7.0-inning complete game.
Appalachian State threw two 9.0-inning complete games against UNCG, but then the finale was rained out.
At least since 1999, the Huskers have never had three pitchers throw consecutive complete games. Due to incomplete records the last time the feat occurred has not been found yet.
Since 1999, the Huskers had thrown 9.0-inning complete games in back-to-back games on two occasions prior to the Ohio State series:
May 16-17, 2009 vs. Baylor
May 16 - Sean Yost (9.0 innings)
May 17 - Erik Bird (9.0 innings)
April 14-15, 2006 vs. Texas A&M
April 14 - Tony Watson (9.0 innings)
April 15 - Johnny Dorn (9.0 innings)
The closest the Huskers had come to throwing three consecutive games before last weekend was against Texas A&M in March of 2002. Shane Komine threw 8.0 of the Huskers’ 9.0 innings on Friday, before Jamie Rodrigue threw a 9.0-inning complete game on Saturday and Aaron Marsden threw an 8.0-inning complete game on Sunday. Sunday’s game was called after 8.0 innings due to the Big 12 mercy rule with the Huskers ahead 10-0.
The Huskers have struck out 269 times this year, an average of 4.9 times per game, the second fewest in the Big Ten. Minnesota has struck out 260 times.
But the Husker have worked a Big Ten best 201 walks, an average of 3.7 per game.
Combined with their 25 HBP, the Huskers only have 43 more strikeouts to free passes; 269-to-226.
Michael Pritchard (24-to-21) has more walks than strikeouts on the year, while Jake Placzek is even, 32-to-32.
Making an Impact
True freshman Ryan Boldt has started 53 of the Huskers’ 55 games in 2014 and is hitting .298 entering the Big Ten Tournament.
A two-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week honoree, Boldt (62) is one of four players on the team with over 60 hits on the year, including nine doubles, four triples and two homers. He has also driven in 27 runs on the year, with 18 RBIs coming with two outs, and ranks third on the team with 39 runs scored.
Boldt has moved to the leadoff spot for the Huskers over the team’s past 21 games and has reached base in NU’s first at-bat of the game 10 times.
Prior to the start of the 2014 season, he was named the No. 2 freshman in the country by Baseball America.
Taking Down No. 1
On Saturday, Feb. 22, at Surprise Stadium in Surprise, Ariz., the Nebraska baseball team took down No. 1 Oregon State, 9-2. The win came one week after the Huskers lost to the then No. 2 Beavers 7-4 in Tempe, Ariz.
Nebraska’s last win over a No. 1 ranked team came in the 2005 Big 12 home opener when the No. 4 ranked Huskers beat Texas, 4-3, in 16 innings at Hawks Field.
Huskers in MLB
Seven former Huskers were on MLB rosters for Opening Day, with Cody Asche (Phillies) and Andrew Brown (Mets) both hitting home runs.
Michael Mariot became the 35th former Husker to reach the Majors when he was called up by the Kansas City Royals on April 7. Mariot made his MLB debut in Minnesota on April 11 with 2.0 inning so relief against the Twins.
According to Baseball America, as of April 9, 2014 Nebraska was tied for fourth nationally with Cal, Miami and Stanford, all with eight former players in MLB.
Arizona State led the list with 11 players, while Long Beach State was second with 10 and North Carolina ranked third with nine players.
The Big Ten Conference ranked sixth with 15 players. Minnesota ranked second in the league with three players.