baseball Edit

Huskers locked in and ready to face anyone in Corvallis Regional

Nebraska Regional Schedule *Pending on games won/lost*
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Friday, June 2nd Nebraska vs. Yale

(3:00 p.m. CT)

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1400/590 AM

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*With win in game 1* Saturday, June 3rd: Nebraska vs Winner of Oregon State/Holy Cross

(9:00 p.m. CT)

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1400/590 AM

Huskers IMG Sports Network

*With loss in game 1* Saturday, June 3rd: Nebraska vs Loser of Oregon State/Holy Cross

(3:00 p.m. CT)

WatchESPN

1400/590 AM

Huskers IMG Sports Network

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The Nebraska baseball team (35-20-1) heads to Corvallis, Ore., this weekend for NCAA tournament. The Huskers are making their 15th NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, and their second in a row.

The team left Wednesday afternoon with some unusual travel circumstances. While NU usually busses or flies commercial, Holy Cross and Yale offered to pick them up on a charter plane.

“It's baseball, man. All kinds of crazy stuff,” head coach Darin Erstad said. “Whatever. All I know is we don't have to go through security in the airport. We don't have to have a long layover in Los Angeles and Denver and wherever else we'd have to go. Sometimes, these trips to regionals can be quite interesting.”

Erstad has been emphasizing consistency all year from his team and that’s something he sees out of Yale and why they’ve been so successful.

“They know how to win,” Erstad said. “They are going to scratch and claw for everything. We are going to get their best shot. It doesn’t matter who we are playing, we need to go out there and give them our best shot.”

Husker pitching coach Ted Silva has been dealt quite a hand this season. As freshman pitchers Connor Curry, Paul Tillotson and junior reliever Reece Eddins have been out all year with various injuries. You can now add sophomore Ethan Frazier to the list as he hurt his arm during the matchup against Maryland in the Big Ten Tournament and will be out for the remainder of the year.

An interesting ordeal happened during the media availability as junior starting pitcher Jake Hohensee stated that junior pitcher Jake Meyers was going to start against Yale, but Erstad was quick to deny the announcement.

“Is there a good chance (Meyers) is going to start? Sure. But he's also been dealing with some stuff, so to sit here and say exactly what's going to happen, I can't tell you that right now.”

Erstad also added that he was going to evaluate Meyers on Friday and see how comfortable he is with starting before he officially announces his decision.

Will Nebraska be able to win a game this postseason? The odds are in their favor if Meyers is healthy and pitches at his highest level, but this will be one tough region to escape especially with the undeniable number one team in the country in Oregon State.

1. Oregon State (49-4)

Record in May: 15-0

Where they hold the edge: Pitching. Oregon State’s pitching is the best in the country and there isn’t much debate. OSU’s earned run average is 1.84, which is good for the best in the country. The next closest? The University of Illinois-Chicago with a 2.57 ERA. They are led by junior Jake Thompson (12-0, 1.31 ERA and 96 K’s), junior Luke Heimlich (10-1, 0.81 ERA and 120 K’s) and end with a solid reliable reliever in Jake Mulholland (6-1, 1.39 ERA and 37 K’s).

When asked about the possibility of facing the Oregon State pitching staff, Hohensee replied “It’s nerve-wracking sometimes, but we’ve played them before. We aren’t scared of them and I feel like we can play with the best in the country.”

Where there’s vulnerability: Power Hitting. Oregon State is an incredible college baseball team and they deserve to be number one. The pitching, the contact, and the experience have all paid dividends for them this year. The one thing they have lacked throughout the year is power hitting. They only have 23 home runs on the year, which was only good for ninth in the Pac-12. The Beavers were also eighth in the Pac-12 in total bases.

First round Outlook: Oregon State shouldn’t have much trouble with Holy Cross, who was a bid-stealer from the Patriot League. Oregon State led by the offensive magician in Nick Madrigal should be able to lead an offensive explosion and combine that with stellar defense/pitching and be able to take game one comfortably against an overmatched opponent.

Tournament Outlook: The Beavers should be the favorite to come out of the Corvallis regional because of their all-around dynamic team. They should be the favorite to reach the CWS and it will be arguably the biggest shock of the tournament if they aren’t able to get out of their own region.

2. Nebraska (35-20-1)

Record in May: 9-4

Where they hold the edge: Starting Pitching. At least for the first matchup, Nebraska has the ability to dominate Yale with stellar pitching. Senior Derek Burkamper (6-5, 3.09 ERA) and Meyers (8-1, 3.09 ERA and 52 K’s) has been Mr. Reliable for the Huskers all year. Despite Hohensee’s last couple of starts, he feels confident in his ability and realizes what the problem has been. “I’ve noticed that it’s only one inning that I mess up in,” Hohensee said. “Usually it’s my mentality and as soon as that inning is over. We’ve pinpointed what I need to do and everything like that for me to be successful this weekend.

While we aren’t sure who is getting the start yet, I’m comfortable saying that Nebraska will have the advantage here.

Where there’s vulnerability: Runners in scoring position. The most frustrating thing for Nebraska during the Big Ten tournament was runners left on base. During the two losses, NU left a combined 25 men on base (14 against Iowa and 11 against Maryland). The Huskers need to find a way to string together hits and find a way to bring others home. Whether that be junior Scott Schreiber, who struggled last weekend or the unquestioned leader in Meyers. Nebraska needs to find a way to bring runners home if they hope to win a game or two during this regional.

First round Outlook: Nebraska is better than Yale and Holy Cross, but baseball is a weird sport. The first matchup will depend on the Huskers ability to break out of the cold offensive spell they have been in for the last couple games. NU has only been shut out twice this year and it’s hard for me to imagine them putting together another poor performance.

Tournament Outlook: The NCAA was not kind to Nebraska putting them in this region. Oregon State has the best chance of any team to make it to the super regionals simply because of their experience, grit, and pitching. Nebraska has a chance to prove to fans and nay-sayers that they can win in the post-season and the opportunity should be embraced. If so, this program is in a good position heading forward.

3. Yale (32-16)

Record in May: 5-0

Where they hold the edge: Time off. This is either a huge advantage for a team or a huge disadvantage. The fact that Yale only played five games last month should have them plenty geared up for their first matchup against Nebraska. The Bulldogs last played Holy Cross twice and beat them by a combined score of 21-8. One player to watch is Benny Wanger, DH/1B. Wanger is a sophomore first baseman who leads Yale in average (.352) and slugging (.685), and is second on the team with a .446 on-base percentage.

Where there’s vulnerability: Pitching. The Bulldogs have struggled with pitching all year, they’ve allowed double-digit runs in nine games this season and have a 5.51 ERA as a team. Yale has also allowed 40 home runs this season Sophomore Scott Politz is the probable starter against the Huskers. Politz is 10-2 on the season having thrown six complete games. He also boasts an earned run average of 3.47, while tallying 69 strikeouts. Outside of Politz, the Bulldogs don’t have much. None of their relief pitchers have more than two saves this season and they only have a combined seven saves on the season.

First round outlook: Yale is 0-11 against the RPI top 100 since April of 2014. With NU being 44 in the latest RPI, it’s safe to say it would be an upset if Yale won. The Bulldogs are a talented team, but the pitching concerns could more than likely be the end of their hopes of winning the Corvallis Regional. Look for the Huskers to get on them early and we’ll see if Nebraska’s confidence takes off and helps propel NU to a matchup against number one Oregon State.

Tournament Outlook: This is a team that I don’t think is capable of beating Nebraska in the first matchup if NU plays to their fullest capabilities. This isn’t a team to be overlooked and odds are, the Huskers will see this team twice in the regionals. There isn’t much hope for Yale to escape past the regional, as it is Oregon State’s to lose.

4. Holy Cross (23-27)

Record in May: 4-3

Where they hold the edge: None. They are facing an overpowered opponent that can dominate them in all facets of the game. This is essentially a 16 seed versus a one seed in the NCAA basketball tournament. I’m not comfortable with saying they have an advantage in any category against Oregon State. The player to watch for Holy Cross is first baseman Anthony Critelli, Critelli broke the Holy Cross record for career home runs with 25. He has nine this season and is leading the team with a .302 average and .543 slugging percentage. He also boasts the most doubles in program history (52).

Where there’s vulnerability: Everywhere. This team would be hot if it was coming off their conference tournament, but they played Yale this last week and went 0-2. Critelli is the only player in the starting lineup who is batting over .300 and none of their starters have a winning record. They are going up against the best pitching team in college baseball.

First round Outlook: Bleak. The Crusaders are simply overmatched. While they should be proud of themselves getting to their first NCAA tournament since 1978, they can’t expect too much out of this appearance.

Tournament Outlook: Just as I mentioned above, I’ll be shocked if they win a game in this regional. While they deserve to be here, there isn’t much hope of an upset, but that doesn’t mean you can’t show up against them. This team will be determined to prove everybody else wrong.