Husker baseball’s consistency a key to this season’s success
The Nebraska baseball team (18-6) kept its hold on the top spot in the Big Ten standings with a three-game sweep at Penn State last weekend.
LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN/Husker Athletics) — The Nebraska baseball team (18-6) kept its hold on the top spot in the Big Ten standings with a three-game sweep at Penn State last weekend. The Huskers will look to continue their winning ways this weekend when they visit East Lansing, Mich., for a three-game series against the Michigan State Spartans (11-15).
The series opener at McLane Stadium is scheduled for Friday at 4 PM (CT) and it will be carried nationally on the Big Ten Network. The series continues on Saturday at 2 PM and wraps up on Sunday at 11 AM.
The Huskers enter the weekend winners in 13 of their last 15 games and continue to hold a 1/2 game lead over the Michigan Wolverines (18-7) for the top spot in the league. Nebraska is 12-5 away from Lincoln this season, including a 7-2 record in true road games.
The Spartans were at the Champaign Pod last weekend in Illinois and went 0-4, with two losses each to Illinois and Purdue. MSU dropped its opener to Illinois on Friday, 13-4, and then fell 15-8 to the Illini on Saturday. The Spartans also saw the Boilermakers on Saturday and lost in 11 innings, 2-1, before dropping Sunday’s contest to Purdue, 8-3. Michigan State is 3-4 at home this year, including a 2-1 series loss to Indiana. The Spartans also hosted Penn State and Purdue for a pod in early April and split a pair of games with both teams.
Friday’s series opener will be carried on BTN, while the games on Saturday and Sunday will be carried on BTN+, an online streaming service through the Big Ten Network.
Fans can listen to Greg Sharpe and Ben McLaughlin call the action this weekend on the Learfield/IMG College Husker Sports Network. Every game this season can be heard for free on Huskers.com and the Official Nebraska Huskers App for both iOS and android devices.
Friday, April 23 (4 PM)
Pitching: LHP Cade Povich (3-1) vs. RHP Mason Erla (3-2)
TV/Streaming: BTN & FOX Sports App
Radio: Husker Sports Network
Saturday, April 24 (2 PM)
Pitching: RHP Chance Hroch (3-0) vs. LHP Nick Powers (3-2)
Radio: Husker Sports Network
Sunday, April 25 (11 AM)
Pitching: RHP Shay Schanaman (4-0) vs. RHP Wyatt Rush (1-1)
Radio: Husker Sports Network
Last Time Out
Nebraska is coming off a series sweep at Penn State. With the three wins, the Huskers improved to 14-2 all time against the Nittany Lions.
4/16: Nebraska 8 – Penn State 2
4/17: Nebraska 11 – Penn State 2
4/18: Nebraska 5 – Penn State 3
After playing two straight series on the road, Nebraska returns to Hawks Field for a three games against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights next weekend. The series opener is set for 6:30 PM (CT) on Friday, April 30. Due to the Red-White Spring Game on Saturday, the baseball start time has been moved to 4 PM. Sunday’s series finale is set for Noon on May 2.
It will mark the second time the two teams have met in Lincoln for a Big Ten series, with the last coming in 2017 and Nebraska swept the three-game set.
4/30: Nebraska vs. Rutgers (6:30 PM)
5/1: Nebraska vs. Rutgers (4 PM)
5/2: Nebraska vs. Rutgers (Noon)
Nebraska and Michigan State has played five common opponents this year (Maryland, Illinois, Minnesota, Penn State, Purdue).
Penn State (3-0)
Michigan State (8-9)
Penn State (1-1)
Win the Weekend
Nebraska has won six straight conference series to start the 2021 season (the Minnesota Pod is not included since it was two games each against Iowa and Ohio State).
• Nebraska last won six straight conference series to start the 2006 season, before dropping 2-of-3 at Oklahoma State. The 2006 Huskers started the year with conference wins over Kansas (2-1), Kansas State (2-1), Missouri (3-0), Texas A&M (3-0), Texas (2-1) and Texas Tech (3-0).
• Nebraska has never won seven straight conference series to start a season.
• During the Big Ten era, the Huskers previously had never won more than three straight conference series to start a season (2013 and 2016)
• This season the Huskers have secured a series victory with a win on Sunday four times this season – Purdue, Iowa, Illinois, Maryland.
• This season Nebraska has dropped the series opener twice – Purdue and Iowa.
2021 Series Wins
vs. Purdue (3-1)
at Iowa (2-1)
at Illinois (2-1)
at Penn State (3-0)
• Dating back to a win at Iowa on Saturday, March 20, the Huskers have won 13 of their last 15 games entering Friday’s series opener.
• Through April 20, Nebraska ranks fifth nationally with a .983 fielding percentage. NU has committed 14 errors in 24 games. The next closest Big Ten program is Michigan, who is tied for 54th nationally (.974). The national top five includes:
1. Notre Dame (.988)
2. Creighton (.986)
3. NC State (.985)
4. Oregon State (.984)
5. Nebraska (.983)
• The Husker offense ranks in the top-30 nationally in multiple categories:
Sacrifice Bunts – 23 (17th)
Scoring – 7.8 (17th)
Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio – 3.15 (20th)
HRs Per Game – 1.33 (T-23rd)
Slugging Percentage – .473 (24th)
On-Base Percentage – .399 (24th)
Batting Average – .296 (29th)
• Nebraska enters the weekend on a four-game winnings streak. Nebraska had a seven-game winning streak earlier this season. It was the longest winning streak since 2016 when the Huskers won eight straight, including wins over Wichita State (2), Indiana State (2), Purdue (3) and Creighton (1). – Nebraska had an nine-game unbeaten streak in 2017. The Huskers won five straight, tied Indiana, and then won three straight following the tie.
• NU ranks in the top three in the Big Ten in multiple offensive categories, including a No. 1 ranking in five categories
Batting Avg. – .296(1st)
Runs Scored – 186 (1st)
Sacrifice Bunts – 23 (1st)
Stolen Bases – 36 (1st)
On-Base Percentage – .399 (1st)
Hits – 239 (2nd) – (Illinois, 255)
RBIs – 162 (2nd) – (Michigan, 168)
Slugging Percentage – .473 (2nd) – (Northwestern, .496)
Walks – 120 (3rd) – (Michigan, 136)
• Nebraska’s pitching staff ranks near the top of the conference in multiple categories including:
Fewest Walks Allowed – 71 (1st)
Shutouts – 3 (T2nd) – (Michigan, 4)
Fewest Runs Allowed – 97 (2nd) – (Indiana, 77)
ERA – 3.94 (3rd) – (Indiana, 2.83)
Fewest Hits Allowed – 189 (3rd) – (Indiana, 139)
Fewest Doubles Allowed – 37 (3rd) – (Indiana, 29)
• Three Huskers rank in the top 10 in the league in runs scored, including Joe Acker with his conference-best 29 runs. Jaxon Hallmark and Spencer Schwellenbach are tied for fourth with 25 runs each. Acker and Schwellenbach are also tied for fourth in the league with eight doubles.
• Jaxon Hallmark is tied with Northwestern’s Anthony Calaraco for the league lead with 36 hits this season. Freshman Max Anderson is also on the list and sits fifth with 33 hits.
• Jaxon Hallmark is tied for second in the Big Ten with 10 steals. Hallmark has stolen three bases in a game twice this season. Hallmark also ranks third in the league with a .383 batting average.
• Cam Chick is fourth in the Big Ten with 27 RBIs and is tied for the conference lead with three sacrifice flies.
• Joe Acker and Luke Roskam are tied for fourth in the Big Ten with 18 walks. Roskam is third in the conference with a .494 on-base percentage.
• Efry Cervantes and Jaxon Hallmark are tied for third in the league with five sacrifice bunts each.
• Cade Povich is tied with Indiana’s Tommy Sommer for seventh in strikeouts with 47.
• 12 players have made their Husker debuts this season, including true freshmen infielders Max Anderson, Brice Matthews and Jack Steil, as well as freshman pitcher Emmett Olson.
Scouting the Spartans
• The Spartans are coming off an 0-4 weekend in Champaign, Ill., with two losses each to Illinois and Purdue.
• Michigan State is 3-4 at home this year, including a 2-1 series loss to Indiana. The Spartans also hosted Penn State and Purdue for a pod in early April and split a pair of games with both teams.
• MSU has two regulars hitting over .300, including Zaid Walker (.344) and Joe Steward (.333). Walker ranks sixth in the league with 32 hits.
• Bryce Kelly leads the Big Ten with 21 walks and is tied for second in the conference in steals with 10.
• MSU has played 26 games this year, the most by any team in the conference.
• MSU ranks second in the Big Ten in both doubles (51) and triples (6). It ranks last in home runs with nine.
• MSU is tied with Maryland for second in the league with 33 stolen bases, trailing Nebraska’s 36 steals.
• MSU pitchers have allowed the second-most hits this season (256) and have the second-fewest strikeouts with 181.
• MSU has given up a league-high 60 doubles this year, while Nebraska’s offense ranks ninth with 39 doubles.
• Erla Mason ranks third in the Big Ten with 44.2 innings pitched and is ninth in strikeouts with 45.
• Jake Boss Jr. was appointed the 16th head coach in MSU baseball history on July 1, 2008.
• In his 13th season at MSU, Boss has enters the weekend with a 353-290 record. He has guided the Spartans to 30-win seasons in seven of the last 10 completed seasons, as well as the Big Ten regular-season championship in 2011 and the NCAA Tournament in 2012.
The All-Time Series with Michigan State
• Nebraska holds an 13-8 advantage in 21 previous games between the two teams. The teams have met 18 times since Nebraska joined the Big Ten Conference and the Huskers hold a 11-7 lead.
• Nebraska is 5-5 on the road in East Lansing.
• The Huskers have won three straight games in the series, all coming during a sweep of the Spartans at Hawks Field in 2019.
• The first game between the two teams was on June 12, 1937, in East Lansing and the Spartans won, 6-0.
• Nebraska took the next two games, both in Edinburg, Texas, during the 1982 season. The teams didn’t meet again until the 2012 Big Ten Tournament.
• Nebraska’s first Big Ten Tournament game was against the Spartans at the 2012 conference tournament in Columbus, Ohio, and Michigan State won, 10-9.
• The teams have met four times at the Big Ten Tournament (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016) and the Spartans hold a 3-1 advantage.
• The teams have met for a Big Ten Conference series five times and this weekend will mark the fourth series in East Lansing. Nebraska has won four of the previous five series between the teams. MSU’s lone series win was a two-game sweep in 2018. Friday’s game was postponed due to weather and then the second game of a doubleheader on Saturday was canceled, again due to weather.
2019 – Nebraska won, 3-0 (Lincoln)
2018 – Michigan State won, 2-0 (East Lansing)
2017 – Nebraska won, 2-1 (Lincoln)
2016 – Nebraska won, 2-1 (East Lansing)
2014 – Nebraska won, 3-0 (East Lansing)