Nebraska Cornhuskers (23-30 in 2022) at San Diego Toreros (37-20 in 2022)
Location: Fowler Park, San Diego, California
Date: February 17th - 20th
Times (all CT): Feb. 17th (Fri.) @ 8 pm, Feb. 18th (Sat.) @ 7 pm, Feb. 19th (Sun) @ 3 pm, Feb. 20th (Mon.) @ 2 pm
Head Coach(s): Will Bolt (4th season, 64-52) & Brock Ungricht (2nd season, 37-20)
Stream: WCC Network
Radio: Huskers Radio Network, Huskers.com, Huskers App
The wait is almost over! Baseball season begins this weekend as Nebraska travels to San Diego. For more on the Huskers, check out our preseason previews on the infield, outfield and pitchers.
The Huskers look to regroup after a year in which they missed the B1G Tournament, thanks to a tarp (which shall remain nameless). They do so by adding a lot of older more experienced pitching and defenders to go with the returning players all whom had a slump last year compared to their career numbers.
But that was last year! Let’s look ahead to this weekend.
Game 1: LHP Emmett Olson (0-0) vs. RHP James Sashin (0-0)
Game 2: RHP Jace Kaminska (0-0) vs. RHP Garrett Rennie (0-0)
Game 3: LHP Caleb Clark (0-0) vs. RPH Ivran Romero (0-0)
Game 4: TBA vs. RHP Morgan Lunceford (0-0)
Emmett Olson gets the ball for the season opener after being 2nd team All B1G in 2022, going 3-3 with a save and a 2.86 ERA in 19 appearances.
Jace Kaminska climbs the bump on Saturday. He is a Junior transfer from Wichita State, and was a 1st team Freshman All-American after going 8-1 with a 2.32 ERA and 2 complete games in 2021.
Caleb Clark is set to become the 10th true freshman since 1999 to start an opening weekend game for the Huskers. (The last being Colby Gomes in 2019.) Nebraska is 6-3 in those games. Clark has pitched for the Canadian Junior National Team the past 2 years and was a top 5 prospect in all of Canada.
As for San Diego, they will be sending pitchers up with a combined 17 career starts, 11 of those by Garrett Rennie, the lone returning stater from last years team. He was 2-4 with a 4.01 ERA. Opener James Sashin was a former walk on from San Diego’s club baseball team, making his 2nd career start.
Ivran Romero and Morgan Lunceford are transitioning from the bullpen, with different amounts of success last year, Romero was 4-4 with a 2.53 ERA in 23 games, while Lunceford had a 14.73 ERA in 11 games
San Diego Scouting Report
San Diego comes off their best season in almost a decade under first year Head Coach Brock Ungricht. After finishing 3rd in the regular season, they upset top seed Gonzaga to win the WCC Tournament and secure the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. They beat Vanderbilt in 3-2 in game 1, before losing to #4 Oregon State 3-12, and then being eliminated by Vanderbilt 4-14. They are picked to finish 2nd (73 votes) in the West Coast Conference in 2023 behind Gonzaga (78 votes).
The Toreros lost 4 players off the WCC Championship team in the 2022 draft, including their top 2 starting pitchers, the WCC Player of the Year and 3rd team All American Catcher Caleb Ricketts, and All-WCC shortstop Chase Meidroth.
San Diego has 2 players on the preseason All-WCC team. Junior 1B/DH Kevin Sims returns after batting .292 with 52 runs, 13 doubles, 2 triples, 12 HRs, and 57 RBIs. He joins Junior 3B/OF Jack Costello makes his second consecutive appearance on the preseason All-WCC team. He comes in after batting .307 with 40 runs, 15 doubles, 2 triples, 8 HRs, 42 RBIs in 2022.
The Toreros bring in 12 freshmen and 8 transfers to try and keep their momentum going. Some notable names are Max McGuire, son of Mark McGuire, who hit .189 in 16 games as a freshman for Oklahoma last year, but was rated the #1 HS first baseman and a HS All American. A rare inter-city transfer Austin Smith, comes over from UC-San Diego, after being 3rd on the team with a 3.18 ERA and 20 Ks in 17 innings, while also hitting .261 with 4 HRs and 30 RBIs. Expect him to come in later in games.
The all-time series between the Huskers and Toreros is even at 2-2. Nebraska is 0-2 against the Toreros at Fowler Park, falling 12-11 on Feb. 21, 2020 and 17-5 on Feb. 16, 2016. The Huskers’ two victories over San Diego came in a 5-4 win on March 12, 2004 at PETCO Park in San Diego and in a 16-9 slugfest on Feb. 21, 1980 in Las Vegas.
Husker Notes from the Past Week
Coach Will Bolt announced there would be 3 members of the team who are out for the season. Freshman outfielder Hayden Lewis is the previously known one who had Tommy John surgery in October. Junior Trey Frahm, a potential big arm (98 MPH fastball) out of the bullpen, and Sophomore Caden Brumbaugh, the projected starting center fielder and lead off man, both were injured more recently, with Bolt calling Brumbaugh’s injury in practice “a fluke”. Also injured but should be available sometime during the season is Sophomore pitcher CJ Hood, and Junior infielder Bryce Hughes.
This one comes down to the experienced pitching of the Huskers vs the experienced offense of San Diego. Which one will break first? Also can the Toreros replace the top pitchers from last year with guys that have minimal success to almost no experience? I think San Diego will be good eventually, but it’s eerily similar to what Nebraska had to replace last year, and they are attempting to do it with a lot of freshman and fairly inexperienced sophomores. Again, remind you of anyone? That being factored in, I’m going with Nebraska coming out and winning this series 3-1.