baseball Edit

Weekend Preview: Nebraska baseball resumes conference play with Indiana

Shay Schanaman is the only declared starting  pitcher for Nebraska against Indiana. (Nebraska Athletic Communications).
Shay Schanaman is the only declared starting pitcher for Nebraska against Indiana. (Nebraska Athletic Communications).

Nebraska baseball (14-21) is on the road for the first time in 16 days. The Huskers move back into Big Ten play following a six-game non-conference stretch. All six of those games were at home and a part of a nine-game homestand.

The Indiana Hoosiers (14-22) are the next conference foe on the docket.

The Hoosiers sit at 2-7 in Big Ten play, good for 10th place in the overall standings. Unlike Nebraska, Indiana has been on the road for the last ten games. The last Hoosier home game came on April 3 in a 13-6 loss to Northwestern.

Late-inning disaster turned up like a bad penny in Indiana's visit to Rutgers last weekend.

On Friday, Indiana allowed three runs in the eighth for a 5-3 defeat. Then on Saturday, the Hoosiers gave up three runs in the eighth again and lost 4-2. Indiana held a 9-8 advantage entering the final frame on Sunday and Rutgers walked it off with two runs in the bottom of the ninth.

The losing streak grew to four on Tuesday with Miami (Ohio). The RedHawks took a 7-3 lead after the first and scored two more in the fourth to hold on for a 9-7 victory. On Wednesday, the Hoosiers' luck changed in a 11-4 rout of Cincinnati. Indiana crushed three home runs en route to snapping its losing streak.

The Hoosiers are led by catcher Matthew Ellis and infielder Phillip Glasser. Ellis is the Big Ten leader in home runs with 12 and is fourth in RBIs with 41. Glasser's batting average is a team-best at .348 and is second in on-base percentage at .453. On the mound, Indiana's Jack Perkins paces the pitchers with a 4.22 ERA.

Over the course of the 10-game road trip, the Hoosiers went 3-7 with five of the losses coming by two runs or less.

In contrast, Nebraska went 2-6 in its nine-game period at home including the suspended game with Creighton. Five of the Husker's losses were by two runs or less.

Indiana is 4-4 this season in one-run games compared to Nebraska's record of 5-8. In five of the eight losses, the Huskers had the tying or winning run on base in the ninth. Nebraska has been excruciatingly close, and this week the Huskers have an opportunity to move into the top half of the Big Ten standings.

Projected Starters

Friday, April 22-6 p.m.: RHP Shay Schanaman (2-5, 3.66 ERA) vs. RHP Jack Perkins (2-2, 4.22 ERA)

Saturday, April 23-1 p.m.: TBD vs. RHP Bradley Brehmer (3-2, 5.98 ERA)

Sunday, April 24- 11 a.m.: TBD vs. TBA

***The first two games of the series can be streamed on BTN+ while the series finale on Sunday will be televised on BTN. All three games can be heard on the Huskers Radio Network.

What to watch for

Chick rising

Cam Chick's move to the leadoff spot has been a success.

The senior is hitting .313 since the batting order shakeups against Creighton. He has knocked in four runs and hit a home run in his last three games. He tied a season-high for hits with three in Saturday's loss to BYU and RBIs with two in Friday's game against the Cougars.

Most importantly, he has reached base.

Chick's on-base percentage stands at .444, well above Brice Matthews at .326. Matthews is an ideal leadoff hitter for Nebraska because he can hit with decent power and is the only Husker with double-digit stolen bases at 10. The issue for Matthews was the strikeouts, of which he has 45, good enough for third in the Big Ten.

Chick has had his fair share of strikeout issues and is sixth in the Big Ten with 42. In the last five games, he has been under his average of 1.2 per game this season. The senior's on-base percentage in the last five contests is .476 which is a positive indicator for the future.

Chick has been able to find sustained success notching hits in seven of his last ten games. That's something that has been hard to come by in 2022 for this Husker squad, and Chick's ability to continue that leadoff momentum will be a key in Bloomington this weekend.

Halfway home

Following the three games with the Hoosiers this week, Nebraska will be exactly halfway through the conference season.

Of the nine major offensive categories, Nebraska is outside the top ten in eight of them. The Huskers are last in batting average and slugging as well as second to last in hits, doubles and on-base percentage.

Matthews is on pace to break the season strikeout record of 70 set by Bobby Benjamin in 1988. Nebraska is tied with Iowa atop the Big Ten in strikeouts with 319. The Huskers are on pace for 483 punchouts by the season's end.

It gets a little better on the bump.

Nebraska's team ERA of 4.84 ranks fourth in the conference. In addition, the pitching staff has surrendered the second-fewest walks in the league at 136. Strikeouts are not quite as impressive coming in at tenth and a total of 287.

Indiana ranks inside the top ten in all nine major offensive categories. The Hoosiers are in the top five in hits, RBIs, slugging, on-base percentage and walks. In contrast, the pitching staff has combined for the worst ERA in the conference. The defense has the fifth-best fielding percentage.

Whether it is Nebraska's stumbling offense or Indiana's struggling hurlers, something has to give.

Know the opponent

***Indiana has issued the most free passes of any Big Ten team. The team's 208 walks and 70 hit batters lead the conference in both categories.

***Head coach Jeff Mercer is 86-69 in his four seasons at Indiana. He is 163-107 in six seasons as a head coach.

***Nebraska holds a 15-12-1 lead in the all-time series with the Hoosiers.