Posted By: Sports
Courtesy: UNL Media Relations
Lincoln - Coming off a 2-0-1 series victory at Indiana last weekend to open Big Ten play, the Nebraska baseball team (15-10-1, 2-0-1 Big Ten) will play a pair of midweek games against fellow in state programs, the Creighton Bluejays ( 8-14, 0-0 Big East) and the Omaha Mavericks (6-21, 4-5 Summit).
The Huskers and Jays meet at 6:32 p.m. on Tuesday night at Hawks Field and it will be the first of three meetings between the two teams this season. The final two games of the season series will be played at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha on Tuesday, April 18 and Wednesday, May 10.
Tuesday will be the 135th all-time meeting between the Huskers and Jays, with Nebraska holding a 83-49-2 advantage. The Huskers took 2-of-3 from the Jays last season and have won five straight against the Jays at Hawks Field. Creighton last won in Lincoln on April 6, 2010, when it posted a 13-5 victory.
After hosting the Jays on Tuesday night, the Huskers will head east to Werner Park on Wednesday for a 6:35 p.m. meeting with the Mavericks. The Huskers and Mavericks are scheduled to play twice this year, with the other meeting taking place later this month in Lincoln on Tuesday, April 25.
Nebraska is 57-9 all-time against Omaha and has won eight straight against the Mavs. Omaha last beat the Huskers on April 30, 1997, when it took the first game of a doubleheader, 17-13. Nebraska took game two of the double dip, 21-5.
Following its two midweeks contests, Nebraska hosts it Big Ten home opener this weekend. The Huskers will welcome the Maryland Terrapins to Hawks Field for a three-game series. The Terrapins were the preseason pick to win the Big Ten and have never played a game in Lincoln.
How to Listen/Watch the Huskers
Fans can listen to Greg Sharpe, Ben McLaughlin and Nick Handley call all the action this season on the Husker Sports Network. Every game this season can be heard on Huskers.com and the Official Nebraska Huskers App for both iOS and android devices.
Tuesday night’s game against Creighton and Wednesday night’s game at Omaha will both be carried on 1400 AM in Lincoln and 590 AM in Omaha. Fans can also listen on TuneIn.com or the TuneIn App on the Husker IMG Sports Network channel.
Tuesday’s game will be carried live on the Big Ten Network and streamed on BTN2Go. There will be no video stream for Wednesday’s game at Omaha.
Husker open Big Ten Play on Right Note
Nebraska opened Big Ten play last weekend at Indiana and took the three-game series 2-0-1. The Huskers were in position to sweep on Sunday, but due to a travel curfew the two teams settled for a 1-1 tie after the 11th inning.
Nebraska’s series win at Indiana marked just the third time the Hoosiers have lost a conference series at home since they moved into Bart Kaufman Field in 2013. The Hoosiers have never been swept at home during Big Ten play at Bart Kaufman.
The Huskers are now 5-1 in Big Ten series openers since joining the league in 2012. The only time Nebraska didn’t open league play with a series victory was in 2014 when the Huskers lost 2-of-3 on the road at Iowa.
Nebraska’s Big Ten Opening Series
2012 - Illinois W, 2-1 (LWW)
2013 - at Illinois W, 2-1 (WLW)
2014 - at Iowa L, 1-2 (LWL)
2015 - Michigan W, 3-0 (WWW)
2016 - at Purdue W, 3-0 (WWW)
2017 - at Indiana W, 2-0-1 (WWT)
Get a Lead for the Bullpen
During Darin Erstad’s tenure at Nebraska, the Husker bullpen has done its job when it has a lead. Prior to ninth-inning walk-off loss last season at Rutgers on Friday, April 29, the Huskers had won 73 straight games when leading after the eighth inning. Since the loss at Rutgers, the Huskers have won 26 straight games when leading after eight innings.
Led by pitching coach Ted Silva, the Huskers are 151-17 since the start of the 2012 season when they lead after the sixth inning. The Huskers are 157-10 when leading after seven innings and are nearly perfect when leading after eight innings with a 168-5 record.
How High Can He Climb
Ben Miller was taken in the 32nd round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates, but turned down professional baseball to instead return to Nebraska for his senior season. The Clive, Iowa, native now has a chance to cement his name near the top of Nebraska’s all-time hits list.
Miller enters Tuesday with 192 hits, putting him eight hits shy of becoming the 25th member of Nebraska’s 200-hit club. Over the past two seasons Miller has averaged 68.5 hits and with that average he would end his career just outside of NU’s all-time top 10.
If Miller can match his 77 hits from last season, he would tie Michael Pritchard for fifth all-time at Nebraska with 251 hits.
The Huskers have had at least one player join the 200 hit club in each of the past four seasons, including 2016 second-round pick Ryan Boldt last year.
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. 251 Michael Pritchard 2011-14
6. 250 Paul Meyers 1984-86
7. 249 Joe Simokaitis 2002-05
8. 248 Jed Dalton 1992-95
9. 247 Chad Christensen 2010-13
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. 226 Austin Darby 2012-15
19. 223 Curtis Ledbetter 2003-05
223 Ryan Boldt 2014-2016
21. 222 John Cole 1999-01
22. 212 Pat Kelly 2012-14
23. 203 Ken Harvey 1997-99
24. 201 Francis Collins 1995-97
-- 192 Ben Miller 2014-Present
After making a pair of starts last season as a true freshman, Angelo Altavilla has become a key contributor in 2017. The sophomore infielder leads the teams with a .345 average, has a team-high nine doubles and ranks second on the team in RBIs with 16.
Altavilla has started 24 of NU’s 26 games, and has shown versatility in the field with 15 starts at shortstop, seven at third base and two at second base.
Nebraska has totaled 10 or more hits 12 times in 26 games entering Tuesday. Nebraska is 10-2 on the year when notching double-digit hits, the only losses came in a 7-5 defeat to Utah on Feb. 24 and a 8-6 loss at CSU Bakersfield on March 21.
Last season the Huskers totaled 10 or more hits 27 times in 59 games and were 21-6 in those games.
Sophomore twin brothers Matt and Mike Waldron have played in the same game at Nebraska five times, including four times this season. Last Tuesday night against Kansas State Matt started on the mound and Mike started at third base, it was the third time both brothers have been in the starting lineup of the same game.
Last year they played in the same game once. At Michigan State on May 8, Matt started against the Spartans and went 6.0 innings, while Mike was NU’s designated hitter, his first career start.
The last time the Huskers had a twin brothers on the team was 1994, when Glendale, Ariz., natives Jeff and John Strasser were freshmen. Jeff made 16 appearances on the mound, including nine starts, while John played the field in 25 games, including 12 starts.
Get the First One on the Road
Since joining the Big Ten Conference for the 2012 season, Nebraska has played 21 league series on the road and has a record of 14-7. In 62 regular-season Big Ten road games, NU is 36-25-1.
The Huskers have won the opening game of a Big Ten road series 14 times and have won 12 straight series when they have taken the opener on the road.
The last time NU didn’t win the series after winning the opener was at Indiana in 2012. Nebraska took game one 13-2, but then dropped a doubleheader the next day, 7-5 and 9-6.
In the seven road series when the Huskers have started with a loss, they have gone on to win the series just twice, including last season at Rutgers when NU dropped the opener and then took a doubleheader on Saturday. Prior to the comeback at Piscataway, the only other time NU had lost an opener on the road and then went on to win was in 2012 at Ohio State. NU lost 10-2 in the opener on Friday and following a rain out on Saturday, took a doubleheader on Sunday, 5-4 and 17-9.
Home Sweet Hawks
The Nebraska baseball program is celebrating its 16th year at Hawks Field.
Following NU’s win over Kansas State last week the Huskers are 329-117-1 (.737) since opening the park on March 5, 2002 with a 23-1 win over Nebraska-Kearney.
Since Head Coach Darin Erstad took over in 2012, the Huskers are 100-39 (.719) at Hawks Field.
The Huskers have posted a winning home record in each of the last 15 seasons. Nebraska has won 60% or more of its home games 13 times over the past 15 seasons, including each of the past seven seasons. NU’s worst home season at Hawks Field came in 2009 when the Huskers posted a 16-14 record (.533).
Leave it to Luensmann
Chad Luensmann had a tough task last season as a true freshman, he had to replace career saves holder Josh Roeder as NU’s closer. Luensmann went on to save 13 games in 14 chances, a NU freshman record, and was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year, becoming the first Husker baseball player to win the award.
Luensmann’s 13 saves tied Brett Jensen (2006) for third place in NU’s single-season record book and Luensmann ranked fourth nationally in saves. Among freshmen, Luensmann tied Long Beach State’s Chris Rivera for the most saves in the country.
Luensmann has four saves this season, including his 15th career save on Sunday, March 5, when the Huskers shut out previously unbeaten Arizona, 1-0. Against the Wildcats Luensmann matched a career high with 4.0 innings on the mound and struck out a career-high four batters.
Luensmann enters Tuesday tied with Thom Ott for third place on the career list. Luensmann needs 14 more saves to tie Jensen for second place on the all-time list.
Six members of the 2017 Husker baseball team have previously been drafted:
Luis Alvarado - 2014 (Boston Red Sox, 33rd Round)
Derek Burkamper - 2013 (Boston Red Sox, 20th Round)
Sean Chandler - 2015 (Milwaukee Brewers, 32nd Round)
Chad Luensmann - 2015 (New York Mets, 39th Round)
Ben Miller - 2016 (Pittsburgh Pirates, 32nd Round)
Jesse Wilkening - 2015 (Arizona Diamondbacks, 28th Round)
Meyers Earns Preseason Honors
Prior to the start of the 2017 season, Nebraska junior left-handed pitcher and outfielder Jake Meyers was named a third-team preseason All-American by D1Baseball.com, Perfect Game and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA).
One the most dynamic two-way players in college baseball a year ago, Meyers led the Husker offense with a .326 batting average and his 1.42 ERA was tops on NU’s pitching staff. The Omaha native is the first Husker to lead the team in both batting average and ERA dating back to at least 1967.
An early-season hand injury limited Meyers’ ability to pitch, but once he got on the mound he became a vital part of the weekend rotation. His 1.42 ERA was the second-lowest single-season ERA in school history by a pitcher who threw at least 40.0 innings, trailing only Bill McGuire’s school-record 1.29 ERA from 1984.
Along with hitting .326, Meyers added 12 doubles, a team-best six triples, two home runs, 29 RBIs, 39 runs and 10 stolen bases.
Freshman Mojo Hagge made his Husker debut in the second game of the season against UC Riverside and went 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored. Hagge has played in each of Nebraska’s last 25 games, including 23 starts.
The Omaha Skutt Catholic product carried a 21-game on-base streak to Indiana last weekend and saw it snapped in the series opener. Hagge struggled on the weekend, but still ranks fourth on the team with a .284 battering average. NU’s leadoff hitter in 20 of the last 21 games, Hagge has also show the ability to drive in runs, as he ranks fourth on the team with 10 RBIs.
The 5-7 left-handed hitting outfielder also carries a .384 on-base percentage with a team-best 15 walks.