The Nebraska baseball team (23-16, 12-6 Big Ten) opens the final month of the regular season in Evanston, Ill., when the Huskers visit Big Ten foe Northwestern for a three-game series.
The first game between the Huskers and Wildcats is set for Saturday at 2 p.m. (CT) at Rocky and Berenice Miller Park. The series resumes on Sunday, starting at 1 p.m. The series finale is a Monday matinee, scheduled for 3:30 p.m.
Nebraska enters the match-up ranked 38th in the latest RPI, released by the NCAA this week. Northwestern (19-22, 6-9 Big Ten) is No. 96 in the RPI.
Last Time Out
The Huskers won 1-of-3 against Illinois at Hawks Field over the weekend. The Fighting Illini won by an 8-1 margin on Friday before Nebraska took Saturday’s game with a 4-3 walk-off. In Sunday’s rubber match, Illinois won by a 6-5 tally.
The Huskers return home to host Arizona State for Alumni Weekend at Hawks Field. The games are scheduled for Friday, May 10 at 6:35 p.m. (CT), Saturday, May 11 at 2:05 p.m., and Sunday, May 12 at 1:05 p.m. Friday’s game, scheduled to be the 500th Nebraska baseball game at Haymarket Park, will be televised on NET. In addition, there will be a bobblehead giveaway to the first 1,000 fans (one bobblehead per fan) into Friday’s game. Saturday is “Bark at the Park,” as fans are welcome to bring their dogs to the game.
How to Listen/Watch the Huskers
• Fans can listen to Greg Sharpe and Ben McLaughlin call the action this weekend on the Learfield/IMG 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. All three games this weekend will be carried on TuneIn.com and the TuneIn App on the Husker Sports Network channel.
• Fans in Lincoln can listen on 1400 AM and fans in Omaha can listen on 590 AM.
• All three games will be streamed on BTN Plus, with a paid subscription required to watch.
Scouting the Northwestern Wildcats
• Nebraska leads the all-time series against Northwestern, 11-10, dating back to the first meeting between the schools in 1897. In Evanston, the Wildcats hold a 5-3 edge over the Huskers.
• Northwestern is 19-22 overall this season with a 6-9 record in Big Ten play. On Wednesday night, the Wildcats topped Illinois State by a 6-3 margin after going 1-2 at Michigan State last weekend.
• Head Coach Spencer Allen is 78-123 in his fourth year overall at Northwestern. Allen is assisted by Josh Reynolds, Dusty Napoleon and Dillon Napoleon.
• Players to Watch
No. 2 Jack Dunn (Senior INF/OF): Team-high .353 batting average with 54 hits, nine doubles and 29 RBIs
No. 4 Alex Erro (Junior INF): Batting .325 with 55 hits, eight doubles, two triples and four home runs
No. 7 David Dunn (Redshirt Freshman INF/OF): Hitting .306 with 48 hits, eight doubles and two home runs
Huskers Third in Big Ten Standings
• The Huskers enter the weekend with a 12-6 record (.667 winning percentage) in Big Ten play, which puts them in third place in the league standings.
• Michigan leads the Big Ten with an 11-3 record (.786), while Indiana is in second with an 11-4 mark (.733). Iowa rounds out the top four with an 11-7 record (.611). The top eight teams make the Big Ten Tournament.
• In the RPI, Nebraska has the third-best ranking among Big Ten teams with the No. 37 spot. No. 25 Illinois and No. 29 Indiana are ahead of the Huskers, while No. 54 Michigan and No. 61 Iowa are behind Nebraska in the RPI.
• After this weekend’s trip to Northwestern, the Huskers finish their Big Ten slate at home against Michigan, May 16-18.
• Nebraska, in its eighth season as a member of the Big Ten, finished in the top two of the regular-season standings in four of its first six seasons in the conference before finishing 10th in 2018. NU won the regular-season crown in 2017 after finishing second in 2013, 2014 and 2016.
Acker’s Breakout Season Continues
• After compiling 12 hits in 39 games over his first two years at Nebraska, junior Joe Acker has 35 hits in 32 games this season. He ranks second on the team with a .304 batting average this season.
• During the Illinois series last weekend, Acker went 3-for-8 with three RBIs and delivered the walk-off hit in Saturday’s win over the Fighting Illini.
• Acker has 13 multi-hit efforts, the second-most on the team. He has six multi-RBI performances, tied for the most on the team.
Gomes a Two-Way Force for the Big Red
• Freshman Colby Gomes has seen time both at the plate and on the mound during his first season at Nebraska.
• Gomes has made 28 starts this season, 25 of which have been at first base. He is batting .224 with 11 RBIs, 12 runs scored and seven doubles.
• On the mound, Gomes has made 12 appearances (two starts) and leads the team with eight saves. His ERA is 2.87 in 15.2 innings pitched.
• Gomes is one of three Huskers to see time both on the mound and at the plate this season, along with Jaxon Hallmark and Ben Klenke.
Schwellenbach Finding Rhythm
• Freshman Spencer Schwellenbach has smashed three home runs in his last eight games after not hitting a home run in his first 20 games at Nebraska.
• Schwellenbach started each of the first 15 games of the season before suffering an ankle injury on March 20. He sat out 11 games before returning to the lineup on April 9.
• Schwellenbach has started each of the last 13 games for the Huskers since that time. During that span, he has at least one hit in eight games, including three multi-hit efforts.
Strong Starts Set the Tone in Big Ten Play
• Nebraska’s trio of weekend starters have combined to go 9-2 in Big Ten games. Matt Waldron, Nate Fisher and Reece Eddins have helped the Huskers to a 12-6 record in conference play through 18 games.
• Nebraska’s starters during Big Ten play have amassed 114.0 innings, an average of more than 6.0 innings per start. They have combined for 79 strikeouts and only 18 walks.
Waldron Continues Superb Senior Season
• Senior right-hander Matt Waldron, who has made eight starts and 10 appearances overall, is among the best pitchers in the Big Ten this season.
• Waldron’s team-best 2.37 earned-run average ranks sixth in the Big Ten.
• Waldron has 58 strikeouts and only four walks this season. His 14.50 strikeout-to-walk ratio ranks first in the Big Ten and third in the nation, behind Elon’s George Kirby (16.80) and Davidson’s Casey Sutherland (16.33).
• Waldron is 5-1 this season, the most wins on the team.
• Waldron has thrown a team-high 64.2 innings this season. He has gone at least 6.0 innings in seven consecutive appearances, including a complete game against Michigan State on March 22.
• In Big Ten play, Waldron is 3-1 with a 2.42 ERA in six starts. He has recorded 32 strikeouts and two walks in 44.2 innings.
Waldron Climbing Up the Husker Charts
• Matt Waldron is ranked in the top 10 of several Nebraska pitching career record lists and continues to add to his impressive resume.
218 career strikeouts – seventh in program history
264.2 innings pitched – seventh in program history
20 wins – tied for ninth in program history
37 games started – 10th in program history
Palensky Powers Husker Offense
• Sophomore Aaron Palensky, a junior college transfer, leads the Huskers with a .323 batting average this season, which ranks 11th in the Big Ten.
• Palensky, who has started all 39 games, leads the Huskers in hits (51), runs scored (31), doubles (11), triples (2), total bases (72), slugging percentage (.456) and on-base percentage (.414).
• Palensky has at least one hit in 33 of 39 games this season, including a team-high 15 multi-hit efforts.
There’s No Place Like Home
• Nebraska is 9-4 at home this season and has six more games scheduled at Hawks Field.
• Nebraska played its long-awaited home opener on March 19 after each of the first eight scheduled home games had either been canceled, postponed or moved to a new location due to weather and/or field conditions.
• It marked Nebraska’s latest home opener since 1978 when the Huskers first played a home game that season on March 28. The 1978 squad played 17 games away from Lincoln before its home opener. This season, the first 13 games were played away from home.
• The Omaha game, originally scheduled as the home opener for March 5, was postponed. The North Dakota State game, scheduled for March 13, was also postponed.
• The Baylor series, March 8-10, was moved from Lincoln to Waco, Texas due to cold weather and snowy conditions.
• The New Mexico State series, originally slated for March 15-17, was canceled due to field conditions.
Newcomers Making Their Mark
• Nebraska’s nationally ranked recruiting class has played a key role in the team’s improvement this season. Of the 18 Huskers to register at least one at-bat this season, seven are newcomers (39 percent).
• Of the 18 Huskers to make at least one pitching appearance, five are newcomers (28 percent). On the mound, newcomers have accounted for 10 of Nebraska’s 11 saves this season.
• D1 Baseball ranked NU’s class 16th nationally and the best among all Big Ten teams, six spots ahead of second-best Illinois.
• Baseball America tabbed the group among its top-35 recruiting classes. After announcing its top 25, Baseball America released its “Next 10” in alphabetical order. Nebraska was one of two Big Ten teams on the list, along with No. 24 Illinois.
• Rawlings/Perfect Game ranked Nebraska’s recruiting class 37th nationally and third in the Big Ten, behind No. 32 Purdue and No. 36 Indiana.
• The Huskers welcomed 15 newcomers to the roster this season, including 11 freshmen, as the entire recruiting class made it to campus.
• Two newcomers – Spencer Schwellenbach and Bo Blessie – were drafted in June 2018, but chose to come to Nebraska to play college baseball. Schwellenbach was selected in the 34th round by the Cleveland Indians, while Blessie was drafted in the 36th round by the Washington Nationals.
Huskers Working Through Rigorous Schedule
• Nebraska’s strength of schedule is 48th nationally, according to WarrenNolan.com. NU’s non-conference strength of schedule is No. 4 in the nation.
• Nebraska has played five teams ranked in the top 25 of the RPI (as of May 1), including No. 11 Oregon State (four games), No. 16 Texas Tech, No. 20 Creighton (three games), No. 22 Baylor (three games) and No. 25 Illinois (three games). If not for a cancellation, Nebraska would’ve played No. 4 Mississippi State on March 3.
• Nebraska’s upcoming regular-season opponents are ranked 96th (Northwestern), 42nd (Arizona State) and 54th (Michigan) in the RPI.
• Nebraska’s schedule has featured games against five NCAA Tournament qualifiers from last season, including two College World Series participants.
• Before cancellations, Nebraska was scheduled to play 2018 CWS qualifier Mississippi State (March 3) and 2018 NCAA Tournament team New Mexico State (March 15-17), which would’ve given NU a schedule with seven NCAA teams, three of which made the CWS last season.
• One of Nebraska’s strengths under Head Coach Darin Erstad has been the bullpen. As a team, Nebraska has earned 11 saves, marking the ninth consecutive season the Huskers have recorded double-digit saves.
• Individually, Colby Gomes leads the team with eight saves. Nebraska has had a pitcher earn 10 or more saves in each of the last five seasons after no Husker pitcher reached the 10-save milestone during the previous seven seasons (2007-13).
Nebraska’s Record with the Lead Since 2012
» After six innings: 202-20 (16-0 this season)
» After seven innings: 217-10 (20-0 this season)
» After eight innings: 231-6 (22-0 this season)
Erstad Among Winningest Coaches in NU History
• Head Coach Darin Erstad earned his 250th career win on April 5.
• Last season, Erstad became the fourth-winningest head coach in program history when he passed Dave Van Horn with his 215th win on Feb. 23, 2018. Erstad reached the 200-win milestone on April 25, 2017.
Most Wins by a Head Coach in Nebraska Baseball History
John Sanders: 767 wins (1978-97; 20 seasons)
Tony Sharpe: 399 wins (1947-77; 31 seasons)
Mike Anderson: 337 wins (2003-11; 9 seasons)
Darin Erstad: 258 wins (2012-present; 8th season)
Dave Van Horn: 214 wins (1998-2002; 5 seasons)
• Erstad, the 2017 Big Ten Coach of the Year, holds a conference record of 108-74-1 as the head coach at Nebraska. On March 31, He became the fourth head coach in program history to surpass 100 conference wins.
Nebraska Coaches with More Than 100 Conference Wins
» Tony Sharpe went 240-260-0 in 31 years
» John Sanders went 239-221-0 in 20 years
» Mike Anderson went 125-116-1 in nine years
» Darin Erstad is 108-74-1 in his eighth year
Hawks Field to Host 500th Husker Game
• The 2019 campaign marks Nebraska’s 18th year playing home games at Hawks Field at Haymarket Park. The Huskers moved to Hawks Field in 2002 after playing at Buck Beltzer Stadium for 23 years from 1979 to 2001.
• Since moving there in 2002, Nebraska has played 499 games all-time at Hawks Field and has six more home games scheduled this season.
• In 2019, NU has averaged 4,333 fans per home game (through 13 home games), which ranks 10th in the nation and leads the Big Ten by a wide margin. Indiana ranks second in the conference in attendance with an average of 1,737 per home game.
• Nebraska holds a 361-137-1 record at Hawks Field, which includes an 9-4 mark this season. NU has posted a winning record at home in each of the last 17 seasons.
• Nebraska has won 60 percent or more of its home games 14 times over the last 17 seasons.
• Since Head Coach Darin Erstad took over in 2012, the Huskers are 132-59 at Hawks Field. He has posted 20-win seasons at home in three of his first seven years at Nebraska, including 21-win seasons at home in 2015 and 2016.
• Nebraska has ranked in the top 30 nationally in average attendance in each of the past 17 years. Last season, the Huskers ranked 12th in the nation with an average of 4,203 fans per home game (over a span of 25 games).