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Nebraska Baseball Preview: Michigan

The Cornhuskers are struggling, and they’re doing so on both sides of the baseball diamond right now. Will they right the ship as conference play begins against a historically tough opponent in the Michigan Wolverines?

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

Nebraska vs Michigan Preview:

Date: March 25th-27th

Time: March 25th (Fri.) @ 7:32 p.m March 26th (Sat.) 2:02 p.m March 27th (Sun.) @ 11:02 p.m

Location: Haymarket Park, Lincoln, Nebraska

Record(s): Nebraska (8-11) Michigan (11-9)

Head Coach(s): Will Bolt, Erik Bakich

Stream: B1G+

Radio: Husker Sports Network

The rollercoaster of a season Nebraska has had so far seemed to take a huge dip downward during last weeks series against Texas A&M Corpus Christi. The Huskers barely squeaked out a win in Game one, 13-12. Saturday was a disappointing 4-1 loss that laid the groundwork for an absolutely demoralizing 21-4 loss to Corpus Christi to end the series on Sunday. The season has not gone the way fans had hoped to say the very least and this was not the way Will Bolt’s squad wanted to go into conference play.

The Huskers had NINE errors this past weekend, a number that will drop the teams fielding percentage down to .961 this season. Nine errors in one weekend is an unacceptable number and the bottom line is the defense needs to improve for this team to start winning consistently. The team managed one lone hit on Saturday, having more errors in the the game than hits. Sundays series finale saw the Huskers with four hits and four errors, leaving them with a 5:5 hit to error ratio in two games to end the weekend.

Shay Schanaman had another solid outing on Saturday after going 6.2 innings while allowing three hits with one run, though he was handed the loss after an additional unearned run. Drew McCarville only last 2.0 innings on Sunday after giving up seven runs on just as many hits, McCarville has been pretty reliable other than this for the Cornhuskers so far. A team of Jackson Brockett (2 ER), Mason Ornelas (4 ER), and Corbin Hawkins (4 ER) also struggled to keep the Islanders bats under control later in the game. For a Nebraska team that has struggled so much offensively, to see some recent spouts on inconsistency in the teams pitching is a bit discouraging for a staff that hasn’t performed too bad too far. Nebraska saw their team ERA climb to 4.86.

Offensively; aside from Fridays game, the Cornhuskers have yet to get it going and are really struggling overall. Nebraska has just two hitters above .300 right now in Garrett Anglim and Griffin Everitt, and only five hitters above .215. As a team they are hitting .244 with a team OPS of .698, 12 home runs, and 96 runs scored. On the bright side, Griffin Everitt did win Co-Big Ten player of the week after going .450. with two doubles, a triple, four home runs, ten RBi, and scoring seven times on his monster of a weekend. The senior captain continues to be a bright spot in a struggling Nebraska lineup.

Weekend Match-ups:

Game 1: RHP Koty Frank (1-0) vs. LHP Connor O’Halloran (2-2)

Game 2: RHP Shay Schanaman (1-3) vs. RHP Noah Rennard (2-0) or LHP Jacob Denner (2-2)

Game 3: RHP Dawson McCarville (2-2) vs. RHP Cameron Weston (1-1) or Denner

Michigan Wolverines

March 25th: 7:32pm cst

March 26th: 2:02pm cst

March 27th: 11:02pm cst

The Wolverines are another team that has struggled a bit with consistency this year after dropping a midweek matchup against Xavier. The Wolverines are currently sitting at sixth in the Big Ten after going 10-9 in non-conference play. The 2019 College World Series runner-ups are certainly a decent hitting team, and have been plagued with inconsistent pitching at times in the early half of the season. This doesn’t mean that Michigan won’t have some intriguing arms to throw out against the Huskers this weekend however.

A name to keep an eye on for the Wolverines is standout Junior utility man, Clark Elliott. Named the top MLB draft prospect in the Big Ten this year by D1baseball.com, Elliott has certainly played up to that name so far this season as he brings a .368 batting average into the weekend with nine doubles, a triple, five home runs, and 28 RBI under his belt as well.

The 2021 Cape Cod all-star is one of four hitters for the Wolverines hitting above .300 in Michigan State grad transfer Joe Stewart who leads the team in stolen bases with six. As well as catcher/infielder Jimmy Obertop and Senior infielder Riley Bertrum. Junior infielder Ted Burton leads the team in home runs with four and RBI with 27. Michigan is outhitting Nebraska .279 to .244 and are also out slugging them with 23 home runs compared to Nebraska’s 12.

The Cornhuskers do have an edge when it comes to pitching against the Wolverines. Even though Will Bolt’s squad saw their team ERA bloom to 4.81 this weekend, Michigan’s is almost a full point higher, sitting at 5.75. The Huskers have also allowed less runs with 114 so far this season compared to 130 for Michigan.

The Huskers are pinned to face the two most productive arms for Michigan thus far in Connor O’Halloran and most likely Noah Rennard. O’Halloran has had himself a nice season so far with a 2.70 ERA and holding opposing hitters to a .219 batting average. The Canadien sophomore has accumulated 33 strikeouts so far through 26.2 innings. He features a power arm to go along with a rather mature make-up on the mound and has been praised as one of the better collegiate arms to have came from Canada in recent years.

Rennard is a Junior righty who leads the staff in both appearances (9) and ERA (2.63). If he does not get the starting nod, the Huskers will surely face him. Both would provide intriguing match-ups against Koty Frank and Shay Schanaman. Cameron Weston and/or Jacob Denner have been heavily relied on arms for the Wolverines thus far as well and own a 4.29 ERA and 6.93 ERA, respectively.

Verdict:

The Michigan Wolverines have been decent this year, and have outplayed the Huskers this season both offensively and defensively. Pitching favors the Cornhuskers, but which side of the pitching staff we will see has seemingly been a coin flip all season long. Both teams have been somewhat inconsistent but the Wolverines have pulled out some tough wins against some tough opponents in Maryland, Kansas State, Louisville, and a one run loss to Vanderbilt.

Nebraska has struggled against some average to below average teams and are coming off of a heartbreaking series loss to Corpus Christi. Nebraska absolutely HAS the talent to hang with any team in the country, they just need to play to that talent and not press too much at the plate and play their baseball.

Prediction: Huskers could go 0-3, they could go 3-0, 2-1, 1-2, who knows right now.