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Nebraska Baseball: Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge Preview

Nebraska returns to Arizona to face Oregon State and Utah

Gallery: Nebraska Baseball Wraps Up Regular Season

After a 3-1 opening weekend, the Nebraska Baseball team returns to Arizona to compete in the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge. Nebraska will play a pair of games at Surprise Stadium against second ranked Oregon State and Utah. Ohio State will alternate with Nebraska, playing the opposite team Nebraska does.

Last season, the Huskers went 1-3 in the Challenge, winning the final game against Utah, while dropping both contests against Oregon State.

For this weekends contests, Nebraska has yet to name their starting pitching rotation. Luis Alvarado was the Friday starter last weekend. A rotation of Alvarado, Jake McSteen, Nate Fisher, and Matt Warren still looks likely. The order in which those pitchers match up against Oregon State is questionable.

The biggest news out of Nebraska has been that Robbie Palkert suffered an injury during Sunday’s finale against Washington State and will miss the rest of the season with Tommy John Surgery. A thin bullpen for Nebraska will make this weekend difficult. Zack Engelken will travel with Nebraska, but Head Coach Darin Erstad is unsure if he will pitch.

Scouting Oregon State

Oregon State is the second ranked team in the nation, and dominated in their first weekend. They swept through New Mexico, Cal Poly, and Gonzaga in opening the 2018 season with a 4-0 record.

The Huskers are likely to see controversial Luke Heimlich in Friday’s start. Heimlich who plead guilty to sexually abusing a younger family member is back for the Beavers after no MLB team drafted him. He threw six innings of two run ball for the Beavers in his opening start against New Mexico. Heimlich held Nebraska to a run in seven innings last year.

Oregon State threw Bryce Fehmel on Sunday, their third game of the weekend. Nebraska has never faced Fehmel. Fehmel allowed four runs on seven hits last weekend against Cal Poly.

Offensive Players to Watch For Oregon State

  • Position Players to Watch

» Nick Madrigal (Junior INF): First-team Preseason All-American, went 9-for-17 with six RBIs during the opening weekend

» Adley Rutschman (Sophomore C/IF): Went 7-for-15 during the first weekend, former 40th round draft pick

» Trever Larnach (Junior OF): Went 8-for-12 during the first weekend with three home runs

Scouting the Utah Utes

Utah went 0-3 against predicted Summit League top team Oral Roberts in the first weekend of the year. Utah only allowed 13 runs in three games, but scored just seven. Kyle Robeinol and Brett Brocoff are listed as the starting pitchers for Utah.

Robeinol is the second starter for the Utes. He allowed three runs on three hits, and a pair of walks in a 4-3 defeat. Robeinol will not be a long starter for the Utes, but he will present the Huskers with another left handed pitcher. Robeinol is generally around the zone, and most similarly matches to Fisher in terms of pitch ability.

Brocoff will be fun to watch, as he struck out 12 Oral Roberts batters in his first college start. He was a 28th round pick of the Atlanta Braves and has already shown an advanced feel for pitching.

On offense, the Utes have struggled. Credit a good Oral Roberts staff, but compared to the Huskers .202 batting average, Utah is worse. Utah hit just .183 for the opening weekend, and slugged just .269. Utah walked a grand total of four times in three games compared to the Husker total of 20.

  • Position Players to Watch

» Dominic Foscalina (Sophomore OF): Went 4-for-9 with one home run during the first weekend

» Davis Delorefice (R-Freshman INF): Went 2-for-8 with a double during the opening weekend

» DaShawn Keirsey, Jr. (Junior OF): Went 4-for-11 with a pair of stolen bases during the opening weekend

What To Expect

Not going to lie, Nebraska will be lucky to come out of this weekend with a 2-2 record. With a deep Oregon State roster, and a Utah team looking for their first win of the season I would expect a good amount of desperation. Combined with a Nebraska team who just lost of their best relief options, Nebraska should be happy to take a 2-2 record and be done with the four game weekend sets.

How to Listen/Watch the Huskers

Fans can listen to Greg Sharpe and Ben McLaughlin call the weekend action on the Husker Sports Network. Every game this season can be heard on and the Official Nebraska Huskers App for both iOS and android devices.

Only Friday and Saturday’s games will be carried on and the TuneIn App on the Husker IMG Sports Network channel. 590 AM in Omaha will carry the first three games, but won’t broadcast Sunday’s game. Sunday’s game will be on 105.3 Wow FM in Lincoln.

There won’t be any TV or video stream coverage this weekend in Surprise.