Husker baseball at Kansas this weekend

Date      Date      Opponent                Radio                 Internet                  Time/Result

Friday    April 8   at Kansas (13-16, 4-5) Husker Sports Network  KUathletics.com       6 p.m.

Saturday April 9   at Kansas                 Husker Sports Network  KUathletics.com       2 p.m.

Sunday  April 10 at Kansas                   Husker Sports Network  KUathletics.com       1 p.m.

Tuesday April 12 at Wichita State (20-11) Husker Sports Network                               6:30 p.m.

 

Media Info

Live Radio: Selected Husker Sports Network and for free on the Internet at Huskers.com (affiliate list on page five of today's notes)

Live Stats: Huskers.com

Live Video: KUathletics.com (with paid subscription)

Television: None

 

Probable Starting Pitchers

Day        Nebraska                             Kansas

Friday    Matt Freeman, Sr., RHP (4-2, 3.65) T.J. Walz, Sr., RHP (3-3, 3.86)

Saturday Jon Keller, Fr., RHP (2-3, 2.36)  Tanner Poppe, So., RHP (1-3, 3.26)

Sunday  TBA                                          Alex Cox, Fr., RHP (0-3, 4.83)

 

This Week: Nebraska begins a four-game road swing this weekend when it travels to Lawrence to take on Kansas beginning Friday at 6 p.m. After finishing the three-game set with the Jayhawks, the Huskers will head south for Tuesday night battle against Wichita State. This is the first time Nebraska has played Kansas and Wichita State in back-to-back road games since 2003.

 

 

Tickets: Single-game tickets for the Kansas series can be purchased on game day at Hoglund Ballpark beginning 90 minutes before first pitch. Tickets are $12 (reserved) and $8 (GA) with youth and senior citizens at $5.

 

 

Live Video: Fans can watch all the action of the Nebraska-Kansas series with a subscription to Jayhawks All-Access on kuathletics.com. A monthly subscription is $9.95.

 

 

On the Radio: Fans across Nebraska and around the world can listen to Greg Sharpe, Lane Grindle and Jeff Culhane call all of the action this week on the Husker Sports Network – including KLIN 1400 AM in Lincoln, KFAM 1110 AM in Omaha – and on the Internet at Huskers.com. A complete list of Husker Sports Network affiliates can be found on page 5.

 

 

Preview: The Huskers (20-11, 2-4) are looking for their third straight win when they trek to Lawrence this weekend to take on the Jayhawks. Kansas (13-16, 4-5) is coming off a 7-1 win over Missouri on Wednesday night.

 

Nebraska, who picked up its 20th win of the season Tuesday night against Creighton, has the school's best 31-game record since 2008. The 2011 Huskers are also ahead of the pace of the 2007 team (19-12) that ended up qualiying for the NCAA Tournament. Nebraska is aiming for its first Big 12 series win of the season this weekend in Lawrence after it dropped 2-of-3 to both Texas Tech and Oklahoma State the past two weekends.

 

Cody Asche is among the best sluggers in the Big 12, ranking first nationally in doubles (17) and first in the league in home runs (7) with Oklahoma's Garrett Buechele and Texas Tech's Barrett Barnes. Asche is second in RBIs with 34 and 14th with a .341 batting average. He is one of three Huskers in the top 15 in that category along with Kash Kalkowski (4th, .384) and Kurt Farmer (9th, .352).

 

3 THINGS TO WATCH THIS WEEK

1. Casey Hauptman, who has thrown 36.2 innings this season, has only walked one batter in 2011, an intentional pass March 6 vs. UCLA. He ranks fourth nationally in walks per nine innings (0.25).

2. Since hitting his first homer of the season March 13, Asche is hitting .417 with seven home runs and 23 RBIs over the past 17 games.

3. Nebraska ranks fourth nationally with 58 hit-by-pitches this season. The Huskers have been hit at least twice in a game 16 times this year, including six in last Sunday's win over Oklahoma State.

 

Scouting Kansas

Under coach Ritch Price, Kansas is 13-6 on the season following Wednesday's 7-1 non-conference win over Missouri at Kauffman Stadium. The Jayhawks are currently one spot ahead of Nebraska in the league race with a 4-5-0 Big 12 record, including series wins over Oklahoma State and Baylor in Lawrence. The Jayhawks were swept at Texas A&M, but dropped the first game in 10 innings and the series finale by just two runs.

Kansas returned five starters from a team that went 31-27-1 last season and finished seventh in the league standings. Two years ago, the Jayhawks won 39 games and reached the NCAA Tournament.

KU is led by infielder Zac Elgie, who has a .292 batting average with a team-best 15 RBIs. Elgie was 2-for-4 with one RBI in the midweek victory over Missouri. Infielder Jake Marasco is hitting .286 with nine RBIs, while catcher Alex DeLoeon has a team-high three homers. The Jayhawks are hitting .243 as a team.

On the mound, Kansas will start three right handers against Nebraska in T.J. Walz (3-3, 3.86), Tanner Poppe (1-3, 3.26) and Alex Cox (0-3, 4.83). One of their best weapons comes out of the bullpen as Colton Murray is 2-0 with a 1.74 ERA in nine appearances with five saves.


Series History: Nebraska leads 141-99-1 in a series that dates back to 1892. It is the Huskers' oldest rivalry against a conference opponent. Kansas has taken the past two series from the Huskers, with the 2009 wins marking the first time since 1998 that Nebraska had lost the season series to the Jayhawks. Nebraska won the first game of the series last year in Lincoln before dropping the final two.

 

Leading Off

    -NU assistant coach Dave Bingham served as head coach at Kansas for seven seasons (1988-95), leading the Jayhawks to 249 wins and the school's only CWS appearance in 1993.

    -Nebraska Director of Operations Curtis Ledbetter, a three-year starter for the Huskers from 2002 to 2005, hails from Lawrence, Kan.

    -Kash Kalkowski enters Tuesday night having reached base in 12 straight games, the longest active streak on the team. Cory Burleson has reached safely in 11 straight and is hitting .357 with two homers and six RBIs over the last four games.

    -Nebraska had four sacrifice hits in Tuesday's win over Creighton, matching its highest single-game total since having four against Louisiana-Lafayette on Feb. 20, 2009. The Huskers rank 27th nationally in sacrifice flies and 49th in sacrifice bunts.

    -Nebraska scored two runs in the first inning of Tuesday's win. It marked only the third time this season the Huskers have had more than one run in the first inning. Not only did the Huskers get off to a faster start against the Jays, but they have also improved fast starts each frame by putting the leadoff man on base in 12 of the past 17 innings.

    -Four Huskers have double-digit multiple-hit games this season, led by Cody Asche with 15 and Kash Kalkowski with 11, including six in the past nine games. Kurt Farmer and Chad Christensen all have 10 each.

    -Over the past 10 games, Cody Asche, Kurt Farmer and Cory Burleson have combined for 33 of Nebraska's 65 RBIs.

    -Nebraska ranks sixth in the Big 12 in team fielding with a .974 percentage. The Huskers suffered a four-error game last Saturday against Oklahoma State that led to nine unearned runs, but rebounded to have only one in Sunday's finale and none Tuesday vs. Creighton, both Husker victories. NU has only had multiple errors three times in the past 22 games. The infield, anchored by sophomores Chad Christensen (SS) and Bryan Peters (2B), has led NU in turning 16 groundball double plays.       

    Nebraska's current .974 field percentage would match the program's best mark since 2006.

    -Nebraska has had nine come-from-behind victories this season, including three in a row in wins over North Dakota and Northern Colorado from March 20-23. The Huskers have 134 come-from-behind wins under Mike Anderson since 2003 NU had 10 come-from-behind wins last season, including overcoming a 10-run deficit against North Dakota on March 30 and a four-run deficit against Southeast Missouri State on May 8.

    -Nebraska has thrived in the middle innings this season, scoring 70 percent of its runs from the third to seventh innings.  The Huskers' have scored their most in the third and seventh innings with 36 each in those frames.

-The Huskers are 89-11 dating back to 2008 when they out-hit an opponent and have won 90 percent of their games since 2003 when out-hitting an opponent. Last season, NU was 25-4 when out-hitting opponents. The Huskers are also 32-10 when reaching double-figures in hits, but just 8-25 when held to nine hits or less.

The Huskers are 16-1 this season when outhitting the opposition, with the only loss coming March 27 at Texas Tech.

-Nebraska's bullpen has done impressive work in preserving leads this season, as the Huskers are 15-0 when leading after six innings.

 

Huskers Take Free Bases

Nebraska has been hit by 58 pitches this season and ranked fourth nationally in that category when the latest NCAA statistics were released Monday, April 4. Kash Kalkowski has been plunked a team-leading 14 times, which ranks him third individually in the NCAA. Kalkowski is just two short of reaching NU's single-season top 10.

Kurt Farmer and Bryan Peters each rank second on the team with 10. Peters has now been hit 28 times during his two-year career, placing him seventh on the school's career hit-by-pitch chart.

   

    NU Career Hit-by-Pitch Top 10

    1.   67    Daniel Bruce  2002-05

    2.   59    DJ Belfonte   2007-10

    3.   37    Alex Gordon  2003-05

          37    Nick Sullivan 2006-09

    5.   36    Jake Mort      2006-09

    6.   34    Dave Crain    1994-95

    7.   28    Bryan Peters  2010-present

 

Huskers Hitting the Long Ball

    As Nebraska enters its third week in league play, the Huskers rank second in the Big 12 with 22 home runs, three behind Oklahoma. Individually, Cody Asche's seven homers are tied with OU's Garrett Buechele and TT's Barrett Barnes for first. Kash Kalkowski ranks in a tie for fifth with four.

    Here is how Nebraska's home run total through the first 31 games of the 2011 season has compared to previous years. Prior to this spring, the NCAA issued a new BBCOR bat standard.

 

    Nebraska Home Runs Through 31 Games

    2011  22

    2010  39

    2009  30

    2008  19

    2007 20

    2006 43

    2005 41

 

Sacrifice Hits Help NU Manufacture Runs

Batting second in the lineup all season, Bryan Peters has been a key piece to helping NU move runners around the diamond. Entering this week, Peters ranked sixth nationally in sacrifice bunts as he enters the KU series with 12 on the season.

Kurt Farmer and Cory Burleson, both hitting in the bottom half of the order in 2011, have a team-best four sacrifice flies this season, tied for 28th in the NCAA. Each is within three sac flies of reaching NU's single-season top 10 chart.

 

Asche Ranks Among Big 12, National Leaders

    For the second straight week, Cody Asche ranks as the national leader in doubles with 17, placing him well within reach of moving his way up NU's single-season top 10 list.

   

    NU Single-Season Doubles Top 10

    1.   26    Jed Morris    2002

          26    Mike Duncan 1985

    3.   24    Derek Dukart  1994

          24    Burt Beattie    1986

    5.   23    Justin Cowan 2000

    6.   22    Seven Tied   

   

    Asche is the team leader with 34 RBIs and 16 multiple-hit games. He has hit all seven homers since March 13. From March 16-27, he hit .487 with 14 RBIs in a 10-game stretch while also going on a 12-game hit streak.

    Asche's longest hit streak of 2010 was 12 games, making him the first Husker since Alex Gordon (2004 and 2005) to put together at least a 12-game hit streak in consecutive seasons.

    A native of Fallon, Mo., Asche was a 2010 honorable-mention All-Big 12 selction as he hit .311 with 10 homers.

 

Hauptman Anchors Husker Bullpen

    Nebraska's pitching staff is holding opponents to a .249 batting average and holds a 3.71 ERA.

    Casey Hauptman is coming off one of the best performances in his career as he improved to 4-2 with a 6.1 inning effort Sunday against Oklahoma State, the longest relief outing by a Husker since 2007. Hauptman ranks fourth in Big 12 ERA at 1.23. His most impressive statistic is walks allowed, where he ranks fourth nationally by allowing just 0.25 walks per nine innings. Hauptman's only walk of the season was an intentional pass vs. UCLA.

    Due in large part to the strong relief pitching, the Huskers are 15-0 when leading after six innings.

   

Kalkowski Makes Smooth Transition to Hitting

    One of Nebraska's best bats has been a surprise to opponents this season, as Kash Kalkowski enters the week ranked fourth in the Big 12 with a .384 batting average (38-for-99). The sophomore had a 12-game hit streak snapped March 16 at Kansas State, but he has regained form, including a stellar 8-for-13 series at Texas Tech from March 25-27. He ranks second on the team with 26 RBIs and four homers. His first home run was a grand slam on opening weekend, while he added a game-tying solo shot March 5 against UCLA.

    Kalkowski has been at his best in clutch situations, as he leads NU in 2-out situations with a .350 average

    A native of Grand Island, Neb., Kalkowski sat out last season following shoulder surgery. A two-way prep standout, Kalkowski was orginally expected to have a primary pitching role for the Huskers until two shoulder surgeries in 2009 and 2010.

 

Farmer Finds His Groove in Sophomore Season

    First baseman Kurt Farmer played in only 15 games last year, but has quickly developed into one of Nebraska's best bats. The Columbus, Neb., native holds the team's second-highest batting average at .352 and he is one of four Huskers to have started all 31 games. He is hitting .451 with runners on base and .389 with runners in scoring position.

    The week of March 14-20, Farmer helped lead Nebraska to a 4-1 mark by hitting .435 (10-for-23) with a team-best 12 RBIs. Farmer's week was highlighted by a seventh inning grand slam March 19 that boosted the Huskers to a 10-4 come-from-behind win. The sophomore homered again in the series finale as part of a 3-for-5 day with three RBIs in NU's 8-6 victory. Farmer posted an efficient .500 (7-of-14) batting average with runners on base while also extending his hit streak to seven games before it ended at nine.

 

Freshmen King, Pierce Quietly Strong in Bullpen

A pair of freshmen hurlers have given the Huskers quality depth in the bullpen with the additions of left hander Tyler King and right thander Brandon Pierce.

King has posted a 1.59 ERA and holds a team-high 13 appearances with Casey Hauptman. The Republic, Mo., native has only given up an earned run in two of his 13 appearances while throwing 17.0 innings.

Pierce, who is 0-1 with a 5.49 ERA, was used as a starter through the majority of March, but has shown his best performances as a reliever. The Gunter, Texas native has two saves and has struck out 23 hitters in only 19.2 innings this season.

 

Burleson a Two-Way Home Run Hitter

    Cory Burleson hit at a .400 clip last week (4-for-10) as he started all three games at catcher for the Huskers against Oklahoma State. The switch hitter, who entered the week with two career home runs, homered twice from each side of the plate in Friday's 12-7 setback to Oklahoma State and produced a career-high four RBIs. Dating back to at least 1999, it is the first time in school history that a Husker has homered from both sides of the plate in the same game.

    After going 1-for-2 in Saturday's game, Burleson came up with a key 2-RBI single in the second inning of Sunday's finale as the Huskers eventually claimed a 6-4 victory.

 

Walking Off

    The Huskers have had three walk-off wins this season, including in back-to-back games against then-No. 5 UCLA on March 5 and 6. Bryan Peters came up with both game-winning hits to give Nebraska its first back-to-back walk-off victories since 2003 when Matt Hopper and Brandon Fusilier did so against Missouri. Peters' walk-off homer in the sereis finale was the first by a Husker since Craig Corriston gave NU a 4-2 victory over Oklahoma on March 21, 2008.

    Josh Scheffert followed suit two weeks later when he provided a walk-off infield single against Northern Colorado to complete a 5-4 comeback victory.  

 

Like Mother, Like Son

Sophomore Josh Scheffert continues a family tradition at Nebraska, as his mother (Candice [Hoffman] Scheffert) played softball for the Huskers for two seasons (1979-80).

Scheffert is a career .279 hitter and is one of four Huskers have started all 31 games this season. He hit .301 in his freshman season.

The Lincoln Southeast product – the same school as former National Player of the Year Alex Gordon – has six multi-RBI efforts, including a career-high four RBIs against South Dakota State on March 16.

 

Noting the Season

    -Tyler Niederklein carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning of Nebraska's 8-5 win over Creighton on April 5. Niederklein did not allow a hit until there was one down in the sixth inning. His 5.1 innings without giving up a hit was the longest a Husker pitcher had taken a no-hitter since Johnny Dorn threw 7.2 innings of no-hit ball in a 10-2 victory over Creighton on March 29, 2005.

    -Nebraska scored 15 runs March 25 in the 15-5 Big 12 opening win at Texas Tech. It marked the most runs the Huskers have scored in a Big 12 road game since March 30, 2002 in a 22-6 victory at Kansas State.

    -The NU pitching staff went toe-to-toe with possibly the nation's best staff March 4-6 when it met UCLA, which boasts 2010 All-Americans Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer. The Huskers were up to the task, posting a 1.32 ERA and .164 batting average against the 2010 national runner-up.

    Nebraska relievers gave up only two runs in the series, as Dylan Vogt and Casey Hauptman earned wins in games two and three. Vogt may have been most impressive, as he no hit the Bruins in his five-inning appearance in game two.

    -Following its series win over then-No. 5 UCLA, Nebraska cracked Collegiate Baseball's national rankings at No. 29 the week of March 7. It marked the first time the Huskers had been ranked since June of 2008 when NU finished the season 41-15-1 and hosted an NCAA Regional.

    -Nebraska and UCLA played a total of 34 innings in the three-game series March 4-6. It marked the first time in school history Nebraska has ever played three straight extra inning affairs.

            -Freshman Jon Keller became just the fifth Husker freshman to earn a start on opening week since 1999, and the second to collect a win during that stretch after current NU pitcher Tom Lemke did so in 2010. Keller threw six shutout innings against Air Force on Feb. 19 to earn the win.