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Nebraska Baseball Preview: UNO & New Mexico State

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The Cornhuskers are finally headed towards home. Will home field advantage be what the Huskers need to fix this rollercoaster start to the season?

NCAA Baseball Regional - Fayetteville Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Nebraska vs UNO/ New Mexico State Preview:

Date: March 13th-16th

Time: March 13th (Sun.) @ 3:00 p.m (Mon.) @ 1:00 p.m (Tue.) @ 6:35 (Wed.) @ 1:35

Location: Tal Anderson Field, Omaha, Nebraska (Game 1) & Haymarket Park, Lincoln, Nebraska

Record(s): Nebraska (4-8) UNO (4-9) New Mexico State (8-3)

Head Coach(s): Will Bolt, Evan Porter, & Mike Kirby

Stream: BTN+ (New Mexico State games only)

Radio: Husker Sports Network

It looks like the Huskers will be playing baseball this weekend after all. After the cancellation of the Long Beach State series due to weather, the Cornhuskers will take the 45 minute trip down to Omaha against my hometown UNO Mavericks for a game on their turf. They will return to Lincoln for their home opener on Monday, followed by a game a piece on Tuesday and Wednesday against the New Mexico State Aggies.

Things still haven’t began to fully click for Will Bolt’s squad and we are already 12 games into the regular season. Nebraska looked to take a game from Kansas State on Wednesday and even put together a late game comeback that fell short as they ultimately lost the game 4-6.

The Huskers only damage against them came in the middle innings after Emmett Olson was touched up a bit in his first ever collegiate start. Freshman infielder Core Jackson mustered two hits in the game but the Huskers offense only was able to put up six hits in the game.

The Huskers offensive woes continued this past week and it is something they will need to address rather quickly in order to turn the season around in the right direction. Defense has also been an issue for the huskers as they had three infield errors alone against the Wildcats.

The Huskers have 13 errors so far as a team that seemingly happen at the most frustrating times, a key contributor for a team that was one of the best defensive teams in the country a year ago. Husker pitching has been streaky as well as the teams Friday starter to start the season Kyle Perry has still struggled a bit early on. The teams most consistent arms have been Koty Frank and Shay Schanaman who will be getting the Sunday and Monday starts respectively.

University of Nebraska at Omaha Mavericks:

March 13th: at UNO 3:00pm cst

March 14th: vs. UNO 1:00pm cst

UNO is off to a similar start to Nebraska as they have yet to fully figure it out but the big issue here has been the defense. The Mavericks have 24 total errors as a team and much like the Huskers, they have come at pivotal times in games and have flipped some pretty close wins into losses. Infielder Mike Boeve leads the team with eight errors but also leads the team in hitting with a .429 .AVG and 1.236 .OPS.

The Mavericks also only have three hitters above 300 in Grant Goldston (.327) and Eddie Satisky (.302). The home run ball has been essentially non existent for the Huskers but the Mavericks do have nine of them and 17 stolen bases as a team compared to the Huskers nine. They are barely outhitting the Huskers .264 to .263.

On the pitching end the Huskers win this matchup by overall numbers, but Mavericks starters have been better. Game 1 will see Sophomore Charlie Bell on the hill and Omaha Central grad Mark Timmins will be on the bump for Game 2. Bell has been very good in three starts so far with a 2-1 record and a 2.81 ERA to boast, tying for the team lead in strikeouts with 19. Timmins has seen less success early on and been knocked around quite a bit with a 7.11 ERA in three starts and a .327 batting average against.

Creighton Prep grad Joey Machado has arguably been the teams best pitcher so far and is essentially the Mavericks version of Emmett Olson, with one start under his belt in four appearances. Relievers like Rece Snyder (2.71 ERA) and Jarrett Blunt (3.72) are also often called arms that have been effective so far.

New Mexico State Aggies:

March 15th: at UNO 6:35pm cst

March 16th: vs. UNO 1:35pm cst

The Aggies are a good baseball team, or at least have been so far. They are averaging 8.4 runs a game and have eight hitters hitting above .300. On the other side of the ball the Aggies are pitching to a team ERA of just 3.81 as all of the teams typical starters have below a 4.00 ERA. The catch here is that the Aggies have yet to leave New Mexico, essentially the opposite of the Huskers. The Aggies have also played University of Illinois Chicago, Oakland, Prairie View A&M, and Seattle University. The Huskers will be their first power-five competition all season.

Sophomore infielder Gunner Antillon has been absolutely on fire for the Aggies this season, hitting .458 with 12 RBI, 9 doubles, and 2 triples. If it weren’t for Antillon, Catcher Logan Gallina would be the best hitter on the Aggies, or most teams for that matter. He is hitting .381 with five home runs so far. Ryan Grabosch and Preston Godfrey are also hitting above .350 for New Mexico State. This is a dangerous lineup on paper and we are about to see just how dangerous they are against the Huskers.

It hasn’t been announced yet who the Huskers will be facing on the mound. Redshirt Sophomore Ian Mejia and left handed Sophomore Sammy Natera lead the team in starts with three a piece. They both own sub 3.00 ERA’s. Natera however has a whopping 30 strikeouts in 15 innings so far, 30 of his 45 recorded outs. Pablo Cortes has also been called upon four times this season with two of those being starts. He has a 2.81 ERA which is good for third best on the team. We could also see a mix of Rorik Maltrud, Cade Swenson, or Cam Blazek. Junior Noah Estrella has been the most called upon reliever so far with a 3.00 ERA in five appearances.

Verdict:

It’s easy to be discouraged by the lack of offense and inconsistent pitching we’ve seen from the Huskers early on. However if you take a look at the roster as a whole, there is just too much talent on it for the lineup to not start turning it around at some point. The Mavs are a team that has looked even when compared to the Huskers so far and have played some tough opponents as well in Arkansas and USC.

UNO even pulled out an impressive 9-4 road win against UCLA. The pitching match up will be the key in that one and I think the Huskers have the edge. As for the Aggies, They are a very talented baseball team but the Huskers have a good shot to punch them in the mouth a little bit in their first road action against a power-five team.

Prediction: Huskers go 2-2 on the four game stretch, taking a game a piece.