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  1. 2009 May 18

    BASEBALL: And Now, For Something Completely Different...

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    By HuskerLocker

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    In the better late than never department, the Nebraska baseball team, after struggling for most of the Big 12 schedule, closed its 2009 season with a sweep over Baylor in Lincoln. And none of the games were all that close: 10-4, 5-0, and 9-4.

    NU finished its season at 25-28-1, with a 8-19 conference record. BU will limp into the Big 12 Tournament having lost its last 10 league games at 27-23 and 10-16.

    The Huskers finally got solid pitching performances for three straight nights from Mike Nesseth, Sean Yost and Erik Bird - Yost and Bird threw complete games - while the Big Red bats chalked up 24 runs over the weekend. The star of the show as the curtain closed Sunday was, fittingly, a senior: Nebraska City native Jake Mort, who enjoyed the first two-homer game of his career and piled on five RBI to boot.

    You can read more about the weekend as a whole here.

    So ends what head coach Mike Anderson called a "adverse and challeging year." Nebraska was young, and its pitching staff was gutted by graduation and recruits declaring for the Major League Baseball Draft. It's possible that Nesseth, NU's best power pitcher, might do the same.

    Like this year, 2010 will ultimately come down to whether Anderson can find:

    *Three legitimate weekend starters for the conference season. Nesseth, if he chooses to stay, would be one. At different times, sophomores Michael Mariot and Casey Hauptmann and junior Jordan Roualdes all pitched like they belonged on the weekend. Other times, they pitched like they belonged in the dugout. Roualdes, a tall, burly lefty, in particular needs to emerge next year as a senior.

    *A closer. Hard to say who that could be until the starters are finalized.

    *A little luck with recruits Tom Lemke and Bryan Peters. Lemke, a 6-7 pitcher from Phoenix, is going to get drafted in the first four rounds of the MLB Dratf. At this point, that's a given. He's got the frame and the profile (87 strikeouts in 50 innings) for it.

    Can Anderson keep him from signing? Can he point to a kid like San Diego State pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who is likely to sign the richest rookie contract in MLB history for 103-mile-per-hour fastball, and say, in three years, that can be you?

    Peters is just as important to keep in the fold. Considered by some to be the top player in Colorado, Peters won Gatorade Player of the Year honors in football as a quarterback, and is likely to win it in baseball. He's hitting .443 and is 6-0 as a pitcher while averaging nearly two strikeouts per inning.

    *More consistent hitting. NU should return three of its top five hitters in juniors Tyler Farst, Adam Bailey and Kyle Bubak. A glut of underclassmen got quality at-bats in 2009, as well. But the Huskers only .282 as a team, and that's after a good weekend vs Baylor.

    “When you’re not winning baseball games, those things happen," Anderson said. "This group stayed together and that’s the No. 1 thing I think we can learn out of this entire situation. When there was a lot of stuff going on, they kept their effort and kept trying. It didn’t result in wins, but they kept trying.”

    Tags: baseball, mike anderson, mike nesseth, tom lemke, bryan peters

  2. 2009 Mar 31

    A Little Perspective on the Boys Over at Haymarket...

    399 views

    By SMcKewon

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    We've received a little grumbling from Husker baseball fans in the last week over the performance of Mike Anderson's crew - especially a midweek loss to Northern Colorado and the ten-run humdinger Monday afternoon/evening at Oklahoma.

    The general tone of these missives "Is Mike Anderson losing his touch?"

    Some food for thought here.

    In the last two weeks, Nebraska has faced three of the nation's top 20 programs according to Baseball America or the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll, in Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Arkansas. Eight games, five on the road, and three at OU played in conditions that heavily favor a home team that knows how to hit a ball up into the wind better than the opponent.

    In those eight games, NU is 4-4. That's .500 baseball against teams with more experience, better pitching and a slight home field advantage over that small sampling size.

    Given how young the Huskers' baseball team is - a collection pitchers barely old enough to shave coupled with a potent offense that's still learning how to hit at a collegiate level - are those grumblers suggesting they wouldn't take a mark like that? Arkansas, for one, swept Auburn and Florida and took two from Mississippi State. Oklahoma State split with Cal State Fullerton, generally considered the nation's best team.

    Nebraska also still adjusting to moving its ace, Mike Nesseth, to closer, where, it must be said, NU has to be in position to win before he can make an impact. And in two games vs. OU, Nesseth never got the call, because Nebraska was so far behind. Anderson isn't really making a gamble moving Nesseth to the bullpen - he's one of the nation's best throwers of heat - but the Huskers' starters - other than Jordan Roudales - maybe have missed a beat.

    But when you're playing NU's schedule, which includes three-game series against ranked foes like Texas A&M, Texas and Baylor and a two-game series vs. New Mexico - .500 baseball (well, slightly better than that) gets you comfortably in the NCAA Tournament. Maybe 33 wins doesn't sound that sexy to some NU fans. But, for a team this young and still learning, it'd be a snazzy achievement.

    Tags: baseball, mike anderson, mike nesseth

  3. 2009 Mar 19

    BASEBALL: How Bout Them Rally Caps?

    428 views

    By SMcKewon

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    Another ninth-inning rally earned Nebraska's baseball team its best win of the season, a 7-4 win at No. 16 Arkansas in Fayetteville.

    NU (12-6-1) trailed 3-1 going into the final frame and was down to its last two outs of the game. That's when an offense's best friend, the walk, came into play, as Huskers Ben Kline and Cody Asche got free passes to the first base. Then Cody Burelson hit a chopper down the first base line, which the Arkansas first baseman fielded. His throw was errant, though, which allowed Kline and Asche to score and tie the game.

    Resulting hits by DJ Belfonte and Kyle Bubak pushed the lead to 5-3. Then Adam Bailey, currently the Big 12's best power hitter, knocked his ninth home run of the year, a two-run shot for a 7-3 pad.

    NU ace Mike Nesseth then closed the door to the ninth, striking out three Razorbacks after giving up a home run.

    Read more here!

    Tags: baseball, mike nesseth, adam bailey

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