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GRAND ISLAND WEATHER

Husker Baseball Photo Credit: Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Huskers Return Home, Host Rutgers


Husker Baseball Photo Credit: Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Friday, April 30 (6:30 PM)
Pitching: LHP Cade Povich (4-1) vs. LHP Harry Rutkowski (2-2)
TV/Streaming: BTN+
Radio: Husker Sports Network
 
Saturday, May 1 (4 PM)
Pitching: RHP Chance Hroch (3-1) vs. LHP Ben Wereski (5-2)
TV/Streaming: BTN+
Radio: Husker Sports Network
 
Sunday, May 2 (Noon)
Pitching: RHP Shay Schanaman (4-0) vs. RHP Brent Teller (2-2)
TV/Streaming: BTN+
Radio: Husker Sports Network
 
Following a pair of road series wins at Penn State and Michigan State, the #22 Nebraska baseball team (20-7) returns to Hawks Field for a three-game series against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (14-13). The series opener is scheduled for 6:30 PM (CT) on Friday evening and will be the first game between the two teams in Lincoln since 2017. Saturday's game is set for 4 PM and the series finale is scheduled for Noon on Sunday.

Capacity at Hawks Field is now up to 6,105 and single-game tickets for the weekend are on sale now at Huskers.com.

The Huskers enter the weekend at the top of the Big Ten standings, holding a 1.5 game lead over both Indiana and Michigan. Nebraska has won all seven conference series its played this year, marking the first time in program history that the baseball team has won seven straight conference series to start a season. NU is also ranked in the top 25 for the first time in 2021, as they were ranked in three different media polls on Monday morning - including D1Baseball (#22), Baseball America (#24) and Perfect Game (#19).

Nebraska is coming off a series win at Michigan State, where the Huskers had to win, 9-6, in 12 innings on Sunday to secure the series victory. The Huskers are 6-1 at Hawks Field this year and since losing three straight game in mid March the Big Red has won 15 of its last 18 games.

Rutgers is on the road for the second straight week and will be in search of another series win after it took 2-of-3 from Michigan last weekend. The Scarlet Knights dropped the series opener to the Wolverines, 6-4, before responding with wins on Saturday and Sunday, 4-2 and 3-2. Rutgers has won its past three road series this year, including wins at Purdue, Northwestern and Michigan. The Scarlet Knights are 10-7 away from Piscataway, N.J., this season, including a 9-6 record in true road games. Rutgers is 4-6 on its home turf at Bainton Field in 2021.

All three games this weekend will be carried on BTN+, an online streaming service through the Big Ten Network. 

Fans can listen to Nick Handley and Ben McLaughlin call the action this weekend on the Learfield/IMG College Husker Sports Network. Every game this season can be heard for free on Huskers.com and the Official Nebraska Huskers App for both iOS and android devices.

Last Time Out
Nebraska won its seventh straight conference series by taking 2-of-3 at Michigan State. The Huskers shutout the Spartans on Friday, lost on Saturday and then won the series with a 9-6 victory in 12 innings on Sunday. 

4/23: Nebraska 4 - Michigan State 0
4/24: Michigan State 4 - Nebraska 2
4/25: Nebraska 9 - Michigan State 6 (12 Innings)

Next Up
After hosting Rutgers this weekend, the Huskers will head to Piscataway, N.J., next weekend for pod play at Bainton Field. Nebraska will play two games each against Rutgers and Indiana. 

Nebraska will open play on Saturday against Indiana at 2 PM (CT). The Huskers and Hoosiers then meet on Sunday at 10 AM before Nebraska plays Rutgers later in the day at 2 PM. The Huskers wrap up their trip against Rutgers on Monday morning at 10 AM.

5/8: Nebraska vs. Indiana (2 PM)
5/9: Nebraska vs. Indiana (10 AM)
5/9: Nebraska at Rutgers (2 PM)
5/10: Nebraska at Rutgers (10 AM)

Leading Off
• Dating back to a win at Iowa on Saturday, March 20, the Huskers have won 15 of their last 18 games entering Friday's series opener.

• The Huskers rank in the top-30 nationally in multiple categories:

  Fielding Percentage - .980 (12th)
  Sacrifice Bunts - 23 (T-26th)
  Scoring - 7.4 (20th)   
  Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio - 3.06 (21st)
  ERA - 3.72 (30th)

• Nebraska had a seven-game winning streak earlier this season. It was the longest winning streak since 2016 when the Huskers won eight straight, including wins over Wichita State (2), Indiana State (2), Purdue (3) and Creighton (1).  - Nebraska had an nine-game unbeaten streak in 2017. The Huskers won five straight, tied Indiana, and then won three straight following the tie.
  
• NU ranks in the top three in the Big Ten in multiple offensive categories, including a No. 1 ranking in four categories 

  Runs Scored - 201 (1st)
  On-Base Percentage - .393 (1st)
  Sacrifice Bunts - 23 (1st)
  Stolen Bases - 41 (T1st with Maryland)
  Batting Avg. - .285 (2nd)  (Illinois, .287)
  Slugging Percentage - .454 (2nd)  (Northwestern, .494)
  Hits - 261 (3rd)  (Illinois, 280)
  RBIs - 175 (3rd)  (Michigan, 177)
  
• Nebraska's pitching staff ranks near the top of the conference in multiple categories including:

  Shutouts - 4 (T1st with Michigan)
  Fewest Hits Allowed - 189 (2nd)  (Indiana, 164)
  Fewest Runs Allowed - 107 (2nd)  (Indiana, 85)
  Fewest Walks Allowed - 82 (2nd)  (Rutgers, 81)
  Fewest Doubles Allowed - 42 (2nd)  (Indiana, 33)
  ERA - 3.72 (3rd)  (Indiana, 2.70)

• Three Huskers rank in the top 10 in the league in runs scored, including Joe Acker with his conference-best 33 runs. Spencer Schwellenbach is tied for third with 29 runs and Jaxon Hallmark is tied for eighth with 26 runs. Acker and Schwellenbach are also tied for fifth in the league with nine doubles each.

• Jaxon Hallmark is tied for second in the league with 39 hits, while freshman Max Anderson is also on the list and is tied for sixth with 36 hits.

• Cam Chick is tied for third in the Big Ten with 28 RBIs and is tied for second in the conference with three sacrifice flies.

• Joe Acker and Luke Roskam are tied for fifth in the Big Ten with 19 walks. Roskam is third in the conference with a .474 on-base percentage.

• Cade Povich is tied for eighth in the league with 52 strikeouts and his 3.11 ERA is ninth-best in the Big Ten.

• 12 players have made their Husker debuts this season, including true freshmen  infielders Max Anderson, Brice Matthews and Jack Steil, as well as freshman pitcher Emmett Olson. 

Common Foes
Nebraska and Rutgers have played six common opponents this year (Maryland, Iowa, Ohio State, Minnesota, Penn State, Purdue). The Huskers are 16-5 against those six teams, while the Scarlet Knights are 9-10.

Nebraska (16-5)
Purdue (3-1)
Ohio State (1-1)
Iowa (3-2)
Minnesota (4-0)
Maryland (2-1)
Penn State (3-0)

Michigan State (9-10)
Minnesota (1-1)
Maryland (2-2)
Ohio State (2-1)
Purdue (2-1)
Penn State (1-2)
Iowa (1-3)

In the Polls
Monday morning the Nebraska baseball team was ranked by D1Baseball (#22), Baseball America (#24) and Perfect Game (#19). It is the first time this season the Huskers have been ranked by D1 Baseball or Baseball America, while Nebraska has continued to climb the Perfect Game rankings since entering that poll on April 12.
 
Nebraska was last ranked at the end of the 2017 season when Baseball America had the Huskers tabbed #25 in the country heading into the NCAA Tournament. That year the Huskers were a No. 2 seed in the Corvallis Regional.

Super Schwelly
Junior Spencer Schwellenbach is making is case for Big Ten Player of the Year with his play at the plate, in the field and on the mound. 

• Schwellenbach is hitting .308 and has been NU's No. 3 hitter in all 20 games this season. He is tied for third in the Big Ten with 29 runs, tied for fifth in the league in doubles with nine and is third on the team with 22 RBIs.

• Has draw 16 walks and has been hit-by-pitch six times,while striking out just 21 times.

• Enters the weekend with a spotless 0.00 ERA over nine appearances out of the bullpen. Is 1-0 and has five saves in 14.0 innings of scoreless work. Notched 18 strikeouts and two walks - didn't issue a walk over his first eight appearances.

• Committed just two errors this season in 99 chances.

Win the Weekend
Nebraska has won seven straight conference series to start the 2021 season (the Minnesota Pod is not included since it was two games each against Iowa and Ohio State). 

• Prior to this season, Nebraska had never won seven straight conference series to start a season.

• During the Big Ten era, the Huskers previously had never won more than three straight conference series to start a season (2013 and 2016).

• Prior to this season, Nebraska won six straight conference series to start the 2006 season, before dropping 2-of-3 at Oklahoma State. The 2006 Huskers started the year with conference wins over Kansas (2-1), Kansas State (2-1), Missouri (3-0), Texas A&M (3-0), Texas (2-1) and Texas Tech (3-0).

• This season the Huskers have secured a series victory with a win on Sunday five times - Purdue, Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan State.

• This season Nebraska has dropped the series opener twice - Purdue and Iowa.

2021 Series Wins
vs. Purdue (3-1)
at Iowa (2-1)
Minnesota (4-0)
at Illinois (2-1)
Maryland (2-1)
at Penn State (3-0)
at Michigan State (2-1)

Swiss Army Knife
No. 2 hitter Jaxon Hallmark has been a tough on opposing defenses this year both at the plate and on the base paths. 

• Hallmark is fifth in the Big Ten with a .355 average and is tied for second in the league with 39 hits. He has also laid down five sacrifice bunts on the year, which is tied for third in the league. 

• On the base paths he has swiped 10 bases, which is tied for third in the Big Ten and is tied for eight in the Big Ten with 26 runs scored.

Leading Man
Joe Acker moved to the lead-off spot in the Husker lineup for the series opener at Iowa.

• Over the last 19 games Acker has reached base in his first at-bat of the game 12 times, including seven walks and one hit-by-pitch.

• On the season Acker is tied with Luke Roskam for the team lead in walks with 19 each.

• In 2021, Acker has posted a .480 on-base percentage and leads the Big Ten with 33 runs scored.

Let Him Out of the Pen
Elkhorn native Jake Bunz transferred to Nebraska after spending two seasons at Hutchinson Community College. The 6-5 lefty has been a vital arm for the Huskers in 2021, as he has made 11 appearances - including three starts.

• Has a 1.25 ERA with three runs allowed over 21.2 innings. All three runs came in a start against Iowa in Minneapolis.

• Yet to give up a run as a reliever in 10.2 innings over eight appearances.

• In his eight relief appearances has 18 strikeouts to just three walks.

Scouting the Scarlet Knights
• Rutgers is coming off a series win at Michigan and has won its past three road series in 2021. 

• The Scarlet Knights are 14-13 on the year and sit seventh in the Big Ten,  but just 3.0 games back of fourth-place Iowa.

• Rutgers has been better on the road than at home this year, as it is 10-7 way from Piscataway, including a 9-6 record in true road games, but is just 4-6 at Bainton Field.

• Rutgers is tied for second in the Big Ten with 37 home runs and is 17th in the country with 1.37 home runs per game in 2021.

• Free passes will be at a premium this weekend as Rutgers has issued a league-low 81 walks and Nebraska's pitching staff has the second-lowest total with 82.

• Mike Ndyisztor (.343) and Ryan Lasko (.303) are both hitting over .300 on the year, while Lasko and Chris Brito each have nine home runs this season.

• Brito is tied for third in the Big Ten with 28 RBIs.

• Jordan Sweeny leads the Big Ten with 40 strikeouts at the plate.

• Saturday starting pitcher Ben Wereski ranks sixth in the Big Ten with a 2.79 ERA and is holding opposing hitters to a .213 average. The left hander is also one of five pitchers in the league with five or more wins this season.

• Wereski has 40 strikeouts on the year to just six walks. 

• Steve Owens is the 13th head coach in Rutgers baseball history and was hired on June 26, 2019. Owens owns 28 winning seasons of head coaching experience, and arrived in New Jersey after a successful nine-year tenure at Bryant University.

• Enters the weekend with a 934-505-3 career record. He has 20 30-win seasons, five 40-win seasons and 13 NCAA Tournament appearances.

• In a spring 2020 vote of 90 head coaches from around the nation, Owens was selected as the most underrated head coach in college baseball in a Baseball America poll.

The All-Time Series with Rutgers
• Nebraska holds an 9-3 advantage in 12 previous games between the teams. The teams have met nine times since Rutgers joined the Big Ten Conference and the Huskers hold a 6-3 lead. 

• Nebraska is 5-0 all time in Lincoln against Rutgers, including 3-0 at Hawks Field. The Huskers swept a three-game series in 2017.

• The first game between the two teams took place at Buck Beltzer Stadium during the 2001 NCAA Tournament. Nebraska advanced to the regional final with a 5-4 victory on May 26. Rutgers battled back through loser's bracket to reach the final and saw its season come to an end with a 14-10 loss to the Huskers. Nebraska went on to beat Rice in the Super Regional, earning its first-ever trip to the College World Series.

• The last non-conference game between the teams took place at the TD Ameritrade Classic in Omaha during the 2013 season and Nebraska won, 3-1.

• This weekend will mark the second time the teams have met in Lincoln for a conference series.

• Nebraska and Rutgers have never met at the Big Ten Tournament.

Conference Series History
2018 - Rutgers won, 2-1 (Piscataway)
2017 - Nebraska won, 3-0 (Lincoln)
2016 - Nebraska won, 2-1 (Piscataway)