Texas gained their first-ever sweep over Nebraska this weekend, winning a double-header on Friday, 7-5 and 11-7, then taking the Saturday game, 9-2. The Saturday game is the ninth-straight loss for the Huskers, who have fallen to below .500 overall at 16-18-1 and in last place in the Big 12 at 4-11. The sweep makes it the second consecutive sweep by a Big 12 opponent this season, after last week Kansas State won a series at Nebraska for the first time since 1974.
Nebraska’s problems are most heavily focused on the pitching staff. Friday night, a relatively reliable Jordan Roualdes pitched only the first two innings, and on Saturday, Casey Hauptmann did the same. In Friday’s first game, starter Sean Yost pitched for five innings, yielding five earned runs. Overall the pitching staff has fallen to last place in the Big 12 with a team ERA of 6.52, more than a full run over ninth place Texas Tech at 5.38.
Baseball fans know the game is full of streaks and slumps. The key to breaking a slump is getting something good going, but the problem is Nebraska isn’t playing very well in several phases of the game.
The offense didn’t do very well this past weekend, but they were facing a Texas pitching staff that’s leading the conference with a 2.16 ERA. Even if you take that into account, the offense has been inconsistent, leaving plenty of runners in scoring position over the season. Nebraska has Kyle Bubak, Jeff Tezak, Adam Bailey, and Tyler Farst, all of whom have shown they can hit the ball well. Up until the losing streak, the offense was producing enough runs to at least win some games. Now that they’ve fallen into a funk things could continue to get worse.
This has culminated into a number of Husker fans asking whether or not Mike Anderson is the right man for the job. It’s an easy assessment to make if you look how former Nebraska pitching coach Rob Childress is doing as the head man at Texas A&M. The past two seasons Childress’ team has made their way to the NCAA Super Regional, eventually losing both times to Rice (which makes you wonder if there are Aggies baseball fans wanting Childress fired and replaced with Rice coach Wayne Graham).
Last season, Nebraska overachieved and up until the last series of the season was in place to take the Big 12 regular season title. The Huskers lost a lot of players from that team, including nearly the entire pitching staff, and first-team Big 12 catcher Mitch Abeita.
Husker baseball fans knew this season might be tough, but I wonder if the same expectations were placed on this year’s team from last season - a bunch of overachievers who would find ways to keep winning games.
Should Anderson be fired because he can’t keep up with fan expectations or because you believe he really can’t coach?