Nebraska-Creighton to meet Tuesday night at TD Ameritrade Park

Posted By: Sports

sports@klkntv.com

Nebraska (26-15, 8-7 Big Ten) at Creighton (15-18, 2-10 MVC)
Tues., April 24 – Ryan Hander, Jr., RHP (1-0) vs. Nick Musec, Jr., RHP (3-2)

 

This Week: Following a 2-1 series loss to the No. 16 Purdue Boilermakers, the Nebraska baseball team (26-15, 8-7 Big Ten) heads to TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha on Tuesday night for a 6:30 p.m. game with the Creighton Bluejays (15-18, 2-10 MVC). The game will be broadcast on NET and is the second game of the three-game season series between the two programs, with the Huskers winning the first meeting on April 10 in Lincoln at Hawks Field, 5-3.

 

The two teams split a pair of meetings at TD Ameritrade Park last year, with Nebraska winning the first game on April 19, 2-1, while Creighton won 9-8 on May 10. This season, the Huskers are 6-3 in nine road games, while Creighton is just one game over .500 at home with an 8-7 record.

 

Junior righty Ryan Hander is schedule to make not only his first start of the season, but also his first career start on Tuesday. Hander should be plenty rested, as he hasn't seen the mound since he threw against Kansas State on April 3. On the year, Hander is 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA in 13.1 innings of work over 10 appearances. He has given up two earned runs on eight hits, while walking three and striking out nine.

 

Tickets: Tickets to Tuesday's game can be purchased by calling 402-280-JAYS (5837) through Ticketmaster online or by visiting the box office.

 

Television: Tuesday's game will be shown across the state of Nebraska on NET.

 

On the Radio: Fans across Nebraska and around the world can listen Greg Sharpe and Lane Grindle call all of the action on the Husker Sports Network – including KLIN 1400 AM in Lincoln – and on the Internet at Huskers.com or the Official Husker App. A complete list of HSN affiliates can be found on page 9.

 

Stock Up

Transfer Richard Stock has been a welcome addition to the Husker offense in 2012. The junior from Westlake Village, Calif., is second on the team with a .383 average and leads the team with 14 doubles.

 

Stock has been even better during conference play, as he leads the Big Ten in batting average (.459 (28-for-61)), hits (28) and doubles (7) .

 

This past weekend against league-leader Purdue, Stock hit .667, including a 4-for-4 performance on Saturday and a 3-for-4 performance on Sunday. Stock hit one home and one double in the Huskers' win over the No. 16 Boilermakers on Saturday, before roping two doubles on Sunday. In 12 at bats over the weekend Stock had no strikeouts, while slugging 1.167 and had an on-base percentage of .667

 

Stock has produced three hits in a game eight times this year, including three times in his past four games. The junior also has eight multi-RBI games on the season

 

A 45th-round pick out of high school by the Brewers, Stock has found new life at Nebraska after playing his freshman season at USC and last season at Pierce College in Los Angeles.

 

I Wanna Be Like Mike

Sophomore Michael Pritchard enters Tuesday's game with an 18-game hitting streak, which is the longest streak by a Husker since Mitch Abeita had a 17-game hitting streak in 2008. His current streak ties him with Joe Simokaitis (2005) and Jed Morris (2002)

 

With a hit against the Jays, Pritchard will tie Justin Cowan (2000), Associate Head Coach Will Bolt (2002) and Luke Gorsett (2006) for the third longest hitting streak since 1998.

 

Since 1999, current Nebraska Baseball Director of Operations Curtis Ledbetter holds the longest hitting streak at 23 games in 2003.

 

Francis Collins holds the NU school record with a 38-game hitting streak in 1996.

 

Setting the Pace

Sophomore Michael Pritchard has been one of the Huskers' most lethal weapons this season with a team high .384 batting average, which ranks fourth in the Big Ten Conference.

 

Pritchard also leads the Huskers with a .444 on-base percentage, two points higher than Kale Kiser's .442 on-base percentage.

 

Cory Cuts Them Down

Catcher Cory Burleson has been one of the most important cogs of the Husker defense this season with 17 runners caught stealing, which tops his season total of 14 from 2011.

 

The senior backstop has slowed down the opposition's running game, as team's have stolen just 11 bases in 28 attempts (.393) this season, with two of the eight steals coming from Illinois on a double steal.

 

During Big Ten play, Burleson has thrown out seven runners in 12 attempts.

 

Through April 22, Indiana's Kyle Schwarber and Northwestern's Geoff Rowan are the only catchers in the Big Ten with more runners thrown out than Burleson with 21 each, but Schwarber has the second most steals allowed in the league with 33 and Rowan is tied for third with 26. Every other catch in the Big Ten has allowed 15 or more steals on the year, including seven who have allowed 20 or more and two with 30 or more.

 

Burleson has worked hard in the offseason to improve his game after allowing 26 steals in 40 attempts a year ago.

 

Hard to Hit

Junior closer Travis Huber has been tough on opposing hitters during Big Ten play with a 0.00 ERA in 4.2 innings of work over four appearances.

 

Huber has given up just four hits and one walk, while striking out six and holding opposing batters to a .211 average.

 

Get on Top

Scoring the game's first runs has been important for the Huskers during Big Ten play.

 

In the first 15 games of the Big Ten schedule, the Huskers are 5-1 when taking the first lead of a game. When the opposition scores first, the Huskers are 3-6.

 

The only time during conference play that the Huskers have scored first and lost was in the series opener against Iowa on April 6. NU took a 2-0 lead into the fifth inning and lost the game, 4-3.

 

Tough With Two

The Huskers have come up with clutch hits all season with two outs, as 98 of the team's 279 RBI's have come with two outs. Leading the way is Chad Christensen, who  has driven in 19 of his team-leading 38 RBI's with two outs. Last season Christensen played in all 55 games and totaled just four two-out RBI's.

 

Juniors Richard Stock, Josh Scheffert and Kash Kalkowski also each have double-digit two-out RBI's. Stock has 15 and Scheffert has 14, while Kalkowski has 13.

 

In 55 games a year ago the Huskers' totalled 91 two-out RBI's. All-American Cody Asche led the team with 16 two-out RBI's, while only three players had 10 or more on the year, including Asche, Kalkowski (14) and Bryan Peters (12).

 

Chicks Dig It

After hitting 30 home runs in 55 games last season, led by Cody Asche's 12 home runs, the Huskers have already surpassed last year's total with 34 home runs in 41 games this season.

 

In the Big Ten, Indiana, Penn State and Michigan are the only other teams with more than 20 homers with 28, 25 and 23, respectively.

 

Josh Scheffert leads the team with seven home runs and Chad Christensen is close behind with six.

 

Kale Kiser has hit a career-high five, while Pat Kelly and Kash Kalkowski  each have four.

 

Packing the Park

Through April 22 the Huskers rank 12th in the country in average home attendance with 3,542 fans per game and 13th in overall attendance with 85,023 fans through the gates at Hawks Field.

 

No other Big Ten team ranks in the top 45 of either category.

 

This past weekend against Purdue, the Huskers had their two largest crowds of the season with 6,257 fans on Saturday and 6,014 fans on Sunday. For the weekend, 16,979 fans piled into Hawks Field.

 

Home Sweet Hawks

The Nebraska baseball program is celebrating its 11th year at Hawks Field in 2012. The Huskers are 245-86-1 (.739) since opening the park on March 5, 2002 with a 23-1 win over Nebraska-Kearney.

 

Nebraska plays a total of 31 games at Hawks Field in 2012, and is 16-8 at Hawks Field this season. The Huskers' next home game in on Friday, April 27, against CSU Bakersfield.

 

Small Ball

Even though the Huskers lead the Big Ten Conference with 34 home runs through April 23, Nebraska has also put a lot of pressure on opposing defenses with their bunting.

 

On the year, the Huskers have 27 bunt singles through 41 games. In 55 games a year ago, the Huskers had just 16 bunt singles all season.

 

Chad Christensen, who is second on the team in home runs (6) and leads the team in RBI's (38), also leads the team with seven bunt singles in nine attempts.

 

Michael Pritchard is next with five bunts singles, while Bryan Peters has four. Cory Burleson and Rich Sanguinetti each have three bunt singles and Kurt Farmer has two

 

Overall, the Huskers are 27-for-35 (.771) when bunting for a base hit and also have 33 sacrifice bunts on the year, including a Big Ten-high 11 from Sanguinetti. Iowa's Jacob Yancinich is the only other play in the Big Ten with double-digit sacrifice bunts with 10.

 

Helping the Pitching Staff

Through 41 games the Huskers have turned 40 double plays. NU is on pace to turn just over 54 double plays this season after only converting 35 a year ago.

 

Scheffert Dialed In

After struggling through a sophomore season that saw him hit .220 with four doubles, two home runs and 18 RBI's in 43 games, Josh Scheffert went back to the drawing board this summer and worked on his swing.

 

The Lincoln native's hard work has paid off so far in 2012, as he has been named Big Ten Player of the Week twice.

 

The junior is third on the team with a .374 average (43-for-115), while also producing a team-high seven home runs, as well as 10 doubles and 34 RBI's.

 

Scheffert has also been solid in the field at both corners of the diamond. He has just four errors on the season in 174 chances.

 

What a Fourth

The Huskers strongest inning this season has been the fourth, where they've outscored opponents 60-12. The Huskers didn't give up a run in the fourth inning until Illinois plated one run against the Huskers in the team's 25th game of the season on Saturday, March 24.

 

Looking at just the first eight innings of a game, Nebraska has outscored their opponents this season in every inning but the first, where they have just 16 runs on the year, while giving up 31.

 

In the first three innings of the game the Huskers hold a slim 87-85 advantage in runs, but they have destroyed opponent pitching their second time through the order in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings with a 136-50 advantage.

 

In the seventh and eighth innings the Huskers keep up the pressure and hold a 63-40 advantage, including 41 runs in the eighth alone.

 

Hot Sticks

Under the direction of Head Coach Darin Erstad and Associate Head Coach Will Bolt, the Nebraska offense has seen great improvement across the board from a year ago.

 

During conference play the Huskers are hitting .298 as a team, with three players hitting .300 or better, including a team-leading .459 average from Richard Stock.

 

In 2011, the Huskers hit .236 during conference play and just two players hit over .300, including Cody Asche (.351) and Michael Pritchard (.340).

 

The Bolt Effect

The Husker offense has seen major improvement under the direction of Associate Head Coach Will Bolt.

 

Looking at NU's numbers through 41 games in 2011 and 2012, the Huskers have struck out 86 fewer times, walked five more times, produced 70 more hits, scored 70 more runs and are hitting 39 points higher as a team at .314.

 

Over the Hump

Nebraska's 2-1 series win over the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus last week was a first for every player on the Husker roster.

 

With the Huskers' last conference road series win coming at Baylor during the 2008 season, no player on the 2012 roster had won a conference road series prior to last weekend's win at Ohio State.

 

Run Producers

Chad Christensen has turned into a run producer this season with a team-high 38 RBI's in 41 games. Over his first two seasons at NU, Christensen had just 31 RBI's in 86 games.

 

Josh Scheffert and Rich Sanguinetti aren't far behind with 34 RBI's each, while Richard Stock had also topped the 30-RBI mark with 31 on the year.

 

A total of seven Huskers have at least 20 RBI's on the year.

 

At the end of the 2011 season, only five Huskers had 20+ RBI's on the season, including a team-high 56 from Cody Asche. Others included Kash Kalkowski (42), Kurt Farmer (32), Bryan Peters (30) and Cory Burleson (21).

 

20-20

Senior Kale Kiser is tough on opposing pitchers with his great eye at the plate. During his career at Nebraska, Kiser has walked 91 times and struck out just 66 times for a 1.38 walk/strikeout ratio.

 

Kiser is hitting just .233 on the season, but continues to get on base for the Huskers with a .442 on base percentage. His team-high 28 walks are the fifth most in the Big Ten and his 13 HBP's are tops in the league.

 

Filthy Freshman

After starting three games at the beginning of the season, freshman Kyle Kubat has been a tough arm out of the bullpen for the Huskers during conference play.

 

In three appearances Kubat has a 0.90 ERA over 10.0 innings of work and is holing opposing batters to a .235 batting average. The 6-1 lefty has allowed eight hits and has given up three walks, while striking out six.

 

Take it for the Team

In 2011 the Huskers were hit by pitch 89 times, which tied them for 13th nationally. The team was led by Bryan Peters, who was hit 18 times to tie for 20th nationally.

 

In 2012, the Huskers have been hit 50 times, led by Kale Kiser's 13 HBP's, which ranks first in the Big Ten Conference.

 

Kiser and teammate Bryan Peters, who is second on the 2012 squad with seven HBP's, continue to climb the Husker career chart and rank third and fourth, respectively.

 

DJ Belfonte (2007-10) sits second on the career list with 59 hit-by-pitches and Daniel Bruce (2002-05) holds the NU career record with 67 hit-by-pitches.