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Nebraska Baseball Weekend Preview: Texas Two Step

The Cornhuskers head down to Texas for a quick Saturday doubleheader.

Nebraska Athletic Department

With the odd number of teams in the Big Ten conference, (slowly turns to look in the direction of Wisconsin) each team has a weekend off during the conference season. Nebraska’s happens to come early this year, as we are just in week 2 of the slate. Most teams in major conferences are in their conference seasons as well, so finding a team to play a full weekend can be tough. Nebraska tried getting a team to come to Haymarket, and then tried to travel to another for a 3 game series, but both attempts fell through.

Nebraska was able to use its Texas ties with some of the smaller schools to talk Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Abilene Christian into letting us interrupt their 3 game series by playing each one of them in a double header on Saturday, April 1st. They will face the visiting team on the weekend, TX A&M-CC first at 1:05 pm, followed by the home team of the weekend, Abilene Christian with a start time 45 minutes after the first game ends. Since it is not a true double header between the same 2 teams, I would expect both games to be 9 innings.

So Nebraska will play only 2 games this week vs 3 for the other teams. This means the Huskers get to go an extra week before trying their presumed new Sunday starting pitcher Will Walsh, after his 2 solid outings in the past two mid week games. Nebraska has won their last 10 games in a row when one of their dueling aces, Emmett Olson and Jace Kaminska, has started a game. All in all, a 2 game weekend bodes well for the Big Red.

Game 1

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders (13-14) vs Nebraska Cornhuskers (14-8-1)

Location: Crutcher Scott Field, Abilene, TX

Date/Time: Saturday, April 1st @ 1:05 pm

Head Coach(s): Scott Malone (16th season, 388-438) & Will Bolt (4th season, 78-59-1)

TV/Stream: WAC International

Radio: Huskers Radio Network,, Huskers App

You may remember TX A&M-CC coming into Lincoln in 2022, and not only winning the 3 game series, but throughly dismantling the Huskers and showing us what kind of a season we as fans were in for in following the team. Game 1 was a 13-12 walk off win for NU after trailing most of the game. Game 2, the Islanders won 4-1, holding the Big Red to 1 hit. Then came the game where the Huskers just broke. The Islanders led 19-0 at one point before winning 21-4.

The Islanders finished 2022 with a record of 27-28 and are 13-14 this year. So while they remain relatively the same team, the improvement seen in the Cornhuskers in starting pitching and offense will hopefully be the difference here. Still waiting on who the home team will be to be announced.

Pitching Probables

RHP Colin Purcell (2-1, 3.50 ERA) vs. LHP Emmett Olson (4-1, 3.68 ERA)

Emmett Olson seems to be getting better each week. The Junior lefty has won his last 3 starts, and the team has won his last 5 starts. He is coming off his two best outings, a 7 inning complete game vs Nicholls, and a 10 strikeout performance against Illinois.

For the Islanders, they have settled into Colin Purcell as their Saturday starter the past few weeks. He actually leads their starters in innings, with 36, and ERA at 3.50, and has given up the fewest walks with 10. He has a complete game to his name this year, a full 9 inning shutout with 8 Ks, albeit against one of the worst teams in the country in Lindenwood. However, his last outing was not great, going 4 innings and allowing 6 runs (4 earned) in a loss to Southeastern.

Texas A&M Corpus Christi Scouting Report

Speed. Thats what the Islanders bring to the table. They currently sit 2nd in the NCAA after leading the majority of the year in triples. They also like to run, having attempted 57 steals on the season. They have 41 steals to show for it, which is less than the 75% success rate generally accepted as the rate needed to make the risk worth taking. There are extra outs to be had, which hopefully the Husker defense can take advantage of.

The team is hitting an impressive .314, just below Nebraska’s .320. Center fielder Brendan Ryan leads the offense again. He is batting .364, with 5 doubles, 7 (SEVEN!) triples, and 2 home runs. He is also the most dangerous man on the base paths, having stolen 11 bases on 16 attempts. He shares the team lead in RBIs, 23, with DH Tre Jones. Jones is also back after being one of the major cogs in the offense last year, hitting .330 with 5 triples himself and a team leading 3 home runs.

The bullpen relies heavily on 3 guys. JUCO RHP Austin Dean, JUCO LHP Evans Hendricks, and sophomore Marco Gutierrez all have more than 10 appearances on the year. Dean has only given up 1 run in his last 9 appearances. Hendricks had a nightmare 4 runs given up to UTSA with no outs recorded on March 12th, but has not given up a single run in any other game. Gutierrez had a hot start to the year, but an increase in walks over the past couple weeks has led to the team only winning 1 of his appearances of the last 6.

Series History

Nebraska leads the all time series 4-2, with all games coming since 2007. Nebraska is 3-0 against the Islanders in the state of Texas, but the Islanders have won the last 2 games in the series.

Game 2

Nebraska Cornhuskers (14-8-1) at Abilene Christian Wildcats (20-6)

Location: Crutcher Scott Field, Abilene, TX

Date/Time: Saturday, April 1st, 45 minutes after Game 1

Head Coach(s): Rick McCarty (5th season, 119-90) & Will Bolt (4th season, 78-59-1)

TV/Stream: WAC International

Radio: Huskers Radio Network,, Huskers App

Abilene Christian has had a similar arc to Nebraska over the past few years. They won the Southland conference in 2021, their last year as a member of that conference. Then in 2022, now a member of the WAC, they regressed to 30-29, finishing 4th in the WAC. Now they have a 19-6 record on the year, off to their best starts since going D1 a decade ago. They are dominating not only some lesser teams, but adding wins over Oklahoma and Baylor (just this last week), as well. The currently sit 2nd in the WAC behind only Sam Houston.

Pitching Probables

RHP Jace Kaminska (5-0, 2.96 ERA) vs. RHP Brock Eichelberger (3-0, 3.62 ERA)

Jace Kaminska has won his last 5 starts, having only allowed 2 runs in 24 innings over his last 4 games, which included a 20.1 inning streak without allowing an earned run. It’s almost a surprise when he encounters some adversity in a game.

ACU will turn to Brock Eichelberger. The former JUCO transfer has been up and down this season. In 3 of his starts, he has given up 3+ earned runs in 5, 3.1 and 0.0 innings pitched respectively, but his last two starts have gone 7 innings each, with 0 runs allowed.

Scouting Abilene Christian

We will get to see two of the better defenses in the country on display in this game. While Nebraska is 15th best in fielding percentage at .981, ACU is 2nd behind only LSU with .988.

The Huskers will face another balanced offensive team in ACU. Their team batting average sits at .315. The first 4 of their lineup are very dangerous. They are led by OF Grayson Tatrow. Just as he did last year, he is leading the team in HRs, RBIs, and runs scored with 8, 35, and 28 respectively. Texas A&M transfer, and former MLB draft pick Logan Britt was brought over for his defense, roaming center field, but has exploded on offense as well. After hitting ,197 as a sophmore at A&M, Britt is batting .333 and second on the team with 7 HRs and 23 RBIs.

The Wildcats bullpen has 5 relievers that have 9+ appearances out of the pen. Of those 5, 3 pitched Friday night against TA&M-CC so I would expect to see RHP Drake Boggan, who has the most innings pitched of any bullpen arm. He had a rough couple weeks in early March but has since worked his ERA back down to 4.57. The other likely bullpen candidate is 6’9” 250 lb LHP Max Huffling. Huffling boasts a career 13-2 record, but his strikeout numbers are way down this year, and walks are a huge issue for him. There is always a chance to see closer Blake Anderson. Anderson has 3 saves on the year, after last night.

Series History

Abilene Christian shut out NU 3-0 in their only meeting on March 23, 1974.

Other Husker Notes

  • OF Daniel Young started his career at Abilene Christian, where he redshirted before transferring to Tyler Junior College.
  • The warm weather may make it easier for Garrett Anglim to make his first appearance in weeks, as he gets closer to recovering from his hamstring injury. Though the play of his replacements has allowed the staff to be super cautious with him.
  • Shay Schanaman continues to climb the all time strikeout ranks. 1 more puts him at 212 and ties him with Bob Sebra for 8th all-time. (Only 298 more after that to overtake Komine!)