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Nebraska Baseball Weekend Preview: Minnesota

The Gophers have finished last in the league the past 2 years, and are close to being in the same spot this season.

Nebraska Athletic Department

Series Preview

Minnesota Golden Gophers (11-28) at Nebraska Cornhuskers (22-15-1)

Location: Hawks Field at Haymarket Park, Lincoln, Nebraska

Dates: April 28th-30th

Times (all CT): April 28th: 7:02 pm, April 29th: 2:05 pm, April 30th: 1:05 pm

Head Coaches: John Anderson (42nd season, 1,358-992-3) & Will Bolt (4th season, 86-67-1)

TV/Stream: Friday - BTN, Saturday & Sunday - B1G+

Radio: Huskers Radio Network,, Huskers App

The Big Ten’s winningest coach, John Anderson is back for his 42nd year at the helm. He’s actually been either a head coach, assistant coach or player at Minnesota since he walked on to the baseball team in 1973!! So don’t expect the athletic department to force him out, no matter how long the struggles of the past few years linger on.

Anderson has long been a “pitching and defense” coach, knowing most games are lost in college baseball than won. But they haven’t been able to recruit the top end pitching talent that seemed to flow through a pipeline in the 2010 decade. The wild thing is just how fast it happened. After winning the conference title in 2018, and finishing 3rd in 2019, they have been dead last in the conference each of the last 2 seasons, and are currently only 1 game ahead of the dumpster fire that is Northwestern, and the completely rebuilding Ohio State.

After sweeping Northwestern, but being swept by Iowa, Nebraska needs to look at trying to pick up an extra game or two and sweeping these teams at the bottom of the standings. You cannot over look them however, as Minnesota is only a couple weeks shy of beating Iowa on a Friday night. The Husker offense should show up this weekend, pitching will be the key in how many victories the Big Red can grab before heading to Big Ten favorite Maryland next weekend.

Pitching Probables

Game 1: LHP Emmett Olson (5-2, 4.02 ERA) vs. LHP Tucker Novotny (1-5, 4.91 ERA)

Game 2: TBD vs. RHP George Klassen (1-5, 5.12 ERA)

Game 3: TBD vs. RHP Richie Holetz (2-3, 3.35 ERA)

Emmett Olson is coming off of the two worst outings since becoming a starter halfway through last season. You might expect that at Iowa, but at home vs Northwestern was a shock. 2 is a coincidence, 3 is a trend. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Beyond Olson is anyone’s guess. Will Bolt declined to name a starter the rest of the weekend. You would have to think Jace Kaminska would go Saturday despite his recent struggles. As for Sunday, usual suspect Jackson Brockett got roughed up by SDSU, and Will Walsh barely made it past an inning in Iowa City. Ben Sears name was dropped by Bolt as a possibility, and that was before he struck out 7 in 4 innings on Wednesday. As was a possibility of Shay Schanaman throwing a couple innings at the start of the game.

For Minnesota, Tucker Novotny has really heated up recently. Prior to last weeks disaster at Illinois, he had a 3 week stretch where he went 18 innings, with 26 Ks, and 5 earned runs allowed. His team won 2 of those games, and the one they didn’t was the game he gave up exactly zero runs.

Going into the season, George Klassen was looked at as one of the top 3-5 draft picks in the conference. But this season really has not gone the way he’s wanted. In 38.2 innings, he’s struck out 36, but walked/HBP 37 batters!! Thats a free baserunner every inning. Omaha transfer Richie Holetz is about the most consistent pitcher Minnesota has. Two bad outings against Iowa and Vanderbilt (which you can hardly blame him for) are keeping him from having absolutely stellar numbers.

Minnesota Scouting Report

The Gophers are dead last offensively in the Big Ten in almost every major category, below even Northwestern. They are batting .248 and have scored 175 runs. By comparison, Nebraska is hitting .304 with 289 runs scored in 1 fewer game. They are led offensively again by center fielder and leadoff hitter Brett Bateman. He leads the team with a .331 batting average, and is the main threat on the base paths , stealing 16 bases on 18 attempts.

Brady Counsell, son of MLB great and current Brewers manager, Craig Counsell is obviously playing 2B like his father, and also like his dad is one of the better defenders. He is one of the top draft prospects for 2024. He had a major slump to start April, but has worked his avg. back up to .266 and has 4 home runs and 19 RBIs.

There are 3 workhorses in the Gopher bullpen, all with 16 appearances on the season. Noah Rooney, leads the pen in ERA at 3.34. Connor Weitgrefe, the stopper/closer has 38 strikeouts in 29 innings. Seth Clausen is hit or miss, he either shuts you down or gives up 3 runs in a inning.

The defense for Minnesota is average. Their .971 fielding percentage is 7th in the Big Ten and 120th in the NCAA.

Series History

Nebraska leads the all time series 35-31-1. Since joining the Big Ten, the Huskers are 21-9 against the Gophers, including 10-3 at Hawks Field. Last season, the Huskers won the first game, then lost the 2nd game by giving up a run in the 9th and then losing in the 12th inning. Minnesota took the series with a 3-1 victory on Sunday.