Date: 5th - 7th
Time: March 5th (Fri.) @ 3:00 p.m, March 6th (Sat.) @ 10: 00 a.m (Game 2 45 minutes after end of Game 1), March 7th (Sun.) @ 10:00 a.m.
Location: Dell Diamond, Round Rock, Texas
Rank: Preseason 9th in Big Ten
Head Coach: Greg Goff
Stream: BTN+ and ESPN+
Big Ten baseball is finally back! After almost a year away from live action games, the Huskers are eager to get things rolling against the Purdue Boilermakers. Last season the Huskers finished with a 7-8 record before the season was shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
With a good chunk of the college baseball season already in the books for most conferences, Nebraska fans have had to settle for ACC, SEC, Sun Belt, etc conference baseball. Friday, that all changes, unfortunately though the Big Ten has restricted its teams to a conference only schedule where the Huskers will play a total of 44 games, 16 of which are at home. Despite the new no mask mandate in Texas, Dell Diamond will be closed to the general public.
Everything goes down on Friday in Round Rock for a four game series against Greg Goff’s Boilermakers.
March 5: vs. Purdue 3pm cst
March 6: vs. Purdue 10am cst Game 2 45 minutes after end of Game 1 (Game 1 is 7 innings, game 2 is 9 innings)
March 7: vs. Purdue 10am cst
All games at Dell Diamond (closed to the general public)
Purdue is in the same boat as Nebraska as they return a good chunk of their players from last years roster. Their rotation will be anchored by sophomore Jett Jackson who pitched to an impressive 1.89 era in 19 innings last year. Behind him will be juniors Cory Brooks and senior Trent Johnson. Brooks pitched in 19 1⁄3 last year recording 16 strikeouts in that time frame. Johnson owns a 7-5 career record with a 3.56 era. Behind them, the Boilermakers feature a duo of intriguing live arms in JUCO transfers Calvin Schapira and Calvin Starnes. Both of which have the skillset to be top weekend rotation arms for Purdue later in the season. Schapira features a wipeout slider and high 80’s fastball. Starnes features a mid to high 90’s heater that blows hitters away.
The Boilermakers weekend starters will be as follows, Trent Johnson gets the opening day nod for the 4th year in a row, followed by the southpaw Calvin Schapira for Game 1 on Saturday and Nick Alvardo for Game 2, and on Sunday the Huskers will face Jett Jackson.
Pitching for the Boilermakers is strong on paper for their starters 1-4 but once you get past their big 3 at the top of their rotation the depth drops off significantly. The bullpen will be a big question mark after the loss of their top reliever Bo Hofstra. JUCO transfer Nolan Daniel is the teams projected closer but the back end of their rotation and their bullpen are a big question mark for this team. The talent is there but the pitching staff is a very young and inexperience group.
On offense Purdue is lead by star players Zach Fascia (C) and Skylar Hunter (OF). Hunter is a fifth year senior who is a career 321. hitter and has started 176 games in four years. The lineup as opposed to the pitching staff is an experienced one. Behind them are veterans Evan Albrecht, Ben Nisle, Tyler Powers, Kyle LaPlante, and Ryan Howe. This list is a talented, hungry, and experienced lineup that is capable of putting up runs very quickly. It will be interesting to see how Will Bolt and the Huskers face this lineup.
This Boilermaker team is one that is actually very similar to Nebraska’s. In fact the preseason ranking’s for these teams are no. 9 and no. 8 respectively. They have a scrappy talented lineup that features a lot of experienced hitters but lack many leaders on the pitching staff. If the Huskers are able to hold the line-up at bay, they should be able to come out on top this weekend in Round Rock.