There goes the undefeated season... The Huskers took the first game of the double-header against New Mexico by the score of 6-2, and then proceeded to have the tables turned on them and dropped the night game by a score of 2-6.
Tony Watson pitched well in his first start of his final season at Nebraska. The southpaw gave up one run over six innings, while giving up four hits, four walks and striking out.. you guessed it, four. Those are good numbers for the first start of the year, and a solid foundation for Watson to build on.
Craig Corriston made a big splash in his Husker debut, going 2-for-3 with three runs batted in. Corriston was one of six Nebraska players to hit a double in the game. I'll have to check my media guide to see if that approaches a record of any kind.
Erik Bird notched the first save of his career as the Husker closer got the last out with a strikeout to clean up Steve Edlefsen's mess.
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As for the second game of the double-header, things weren't so good. I hate to use the cliche that this was somehow "a good loss", since wins are always better than losses, but I think that Nebraska might have worked some things out of their system in the loss to the Lobos.
It was obvious yesterday that there was a lot of rust left to knock off the Big Red machine before the Huskers get rolling this season. Over the two games, the scarlet & cream made no less than six errors. To use the technical term, that's sucky defense.
For a team that's only been able to practice indoors so far this year, that's not completely unexpected, though. Nebraska was one of the best fielding teams in the Big 12 last season, but with a shifting roster and weather to deal with, it will take some time to get back up to speed.
I do wonder if the cold weather in Arlington affected things... It was 37 degrees with a 15 mph breeze, but I'd think a northern school like Nebraska would be ready for that, especially considering the bitter weather we've had of late. I'm slightly concerned that the normally slick fielding Jake Optiz committed three errors. Hopefully he can get things back under control, but without having been able to watch the game, and his performance, I can't offer a better assessment than that. Sorry.
As Mike Anderson brought up earlier this week, this is a team that's prone to strikeouts. New Mexico's ace, Bobby Lafromboise, struck out nine in eight innings, while Brandon Hewett struck out two in the ninth frame. That's just too many whiffs. Bryce Nimmo, Jake Opitz and Thad Weber combined for seven strikeouts and just one walk. Considering that those are the No. 1, 5 and 6 hitters in the order, that's a formula for run-scoring failure.
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After the split double-header on Friday, the Huskers now take on host school Texas-Arlington. The first pitch is set to be thrown at 3:30 p.m., with the likely starter being Charlie Shirek.
Of course, Mike Anderson could throw us for a loop and start Drew Bowman, Tim Radmacher, Charlie Shaver or Herbie Husker on Saturday afternoon. I'd guess that there's a 85% chance we see Shirek on the mound, though.
Texas-Arlington isn't an exceptionally strong team, but they've shown an ability to hang with some decent teams. I'd really like to see Bryce Nimmo, Ryan Wehrle and Andy Gerch bring their bats to the game. It doesn't bode well for Nimmo that he still seems to be stuck in his slump from last season.
Although, we are only two games into 2007.
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Texas-Arlington opened the season against the Texas Longhorns with a 9-4 loss in which the Mavericks never led, but kept it interesting. UTA then dropped two-of-three to Louisiana Tech, but beat Illinois State on Friday.
The Mavericks top player is probably second-sacker Daniel Rieder. The senior from British Columbia hit .318 last season, and hit .390 in JuCo the year before. Rieder, a lefty, is hitting .353 with one home run over the first five games of the 2007 season.
If I had to guess, I'd think that UTA will pitch Chris Taylor against Nebraska. The 5-10, 170 right-hander was a closer/starter last season, putting up a 4.80 ERA with 82 strikeouts over 75.0 innings. He's made one start this season, a 6.0 inning, 8 strikeout, one earned run win against Louisiana Tech.
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