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Nebraska Baseball Weekend Preview: Penn State

The Huskers’ final home series of the season brings the Nittany Lions to town.

Nebraska Athletic Department

Series Preview

Penn State Nittany Lions (24-19) at Nebraska Cornhuskers (26-20-1)

Location: Hawks Field at Haymarket Park, Lincoln, NE

Dates: May 12th-14th

Times (all CT): May 12th: 6:05 pm, May 13th: 6:02 pm, May 14th: 11:02 am

Head Coaches: Rob Cooper (10th season, 480-494) & Will Bolt (4th season, 90-72-1)

TV/Stream: Friday: B1G+, Saturday: BTN, Sunday: ESPN2

Radio: Huskers Radio Network,, Huskers App

Join us for a CORN NATION TAILGATE on Saturday before the game, and meet some of the staff!

The Nittany Lions have actually been in Nebraska since Tuesday, and took on the Omaha Mavericks in what could only be described as a disaster on Wednesday. Omaha won 16-3. Seven Penn State pitchers combined to give up 11 hits, walk 12 others and hit 2 batters. Thats a jam packed 6 innings. Patience is going to pay off against this team that has lost 6 of its last 7 games, and got lucky that it had a game cancelled against pre-gambling-allegations-Iowa, or it would have very well been losers in 7 of their last 8.

Penn State made their first Big Ten Tournament since 2012 last year, and won their first postseason game since 2008. They also had two of their better teams in 2020 and 2021, when the tournament wasn’t held. So things looked to be turning around for the program. This years team however, looks to be on the outside looking in yet again. The university doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to find a new coach, as Rob Cooper is in his 10th year, and made it known from the beginning that his goal was to get to Omaha in June, but has yet to consistently get to Omaha in May.

Pitching Probables

Game 1: LHP Emmett Olson (5-3, 4.34 ERA) vs. TBA

Game 2: RHP Jace Kaminska (6-3, 4.77 ERA) vs. TBA

Game 3: TBD vs. TBA

With only 1 quality start in his last 4 weeks, Emmett Olson’s ERA has been climbing since he won pitcher of the week following his Michigan masterpiece. He is recovering from a bruise after taking a ball off the leg at Maryland in what was more than likely his final batter anyway, but has healed well enough for the coaches to put him in the Friday lineup.

In what was a slugfest in College Park, Jace Kaminska did give up 7 runs in 4 innings, but it was enough in the smallest ballpark in the “power 5” to keep the Huskers in the game and have them pull off the upset win. He seems to be turning the corner after a rough middle of the season.

As has been the recent trend, the Husker coaching staff is leaving their options open for Sunday. Will Walsh gave up 3 runs in 2.1 innings up at Maryland, but when you consider the fact that after he was pulled, Maryland scored 17 runs in the next 3.2 innings, it doesn’t sound so bad. Expect to see Walsh again, barring something drastic in the first 2 games.

Penn State has not released any of its pitchers for the series. Jaden Henline has been a Friday or Saturday starter pretty much since conference play started, after being an effective bullpen guy the previous two and a half years. He has not struck out many batters since switching to a starter though, only getting around 1 K per 2 innings, instead of 1 per inning the previous 2 years.

Jordan Morales has been a weekend starter the past couple weeks, including last Friday against Rutgers. He was their top bullpen guy since transferring from LaSalle last year, but was a productive starter there. A familiar name in Travis Luensmann has also been a starter, and is coming off a good outing vs Rutgers, 7 innings with 6 hits and 3 runs given up vs that red hot lineup, but his team couldn’t get him the win.

Penn State Scouting Report

The Penn State offense is fairly average. Not too many crazy good or crazy bad numbers by the majority of their normal starting 9. Kyle Hannon is one of the bigger worries for opponents on the team though. Not only does he lead the team in home runs with 7, but is by far their biggest threat on the base paths. He has stolen 25 bases in 31 attempts on the season, 2 shy of the Penn State season record.

Johnny Piacentino is finally a senior, though he does have a COVID year available, and has been pacing the Nittany Lions offense and roaming center field since being a Freshman All American in 2020. After a down year last year at the plate, he is once again leading the team with a .336 average. A Mount St Mary’s grad transfer, Thomas Bramley, is right behind him with a .335 average and is closing in on the single season record for Penn State with 39 walks. He took over for All American catcher Matt Wood, Penn State’s highest ever draft pick, but has filled the shoes well.

The Nittany Lion bullpen is slightly below average. Their main weapon is super senior Steven Miller. He is having his best season by far, with a 4.54 ERA and 49 Ks and only 12 walks in 39.2 innings. Senior Ryan Partridge is also heavily relied upon. He owns the best ERA of the bullpen with 4.50. He has 26 Ks and 10 walks in 22 innings.

6’9” West Virginia transfer Daniel Ouderkirk has struggled as a weekend starter of late and has been moved to midweek starter and then the bullpen on weekends. He has a 7.26 ERA, but has struck out an impressive 57 batters in 39.2 innings. Control is an issue as he has walked 33 batters and hit 12 more. He started the disaster in Omaha on Wednesday night.

The Penn State defense is 10th in the Big Ten, but in an overall good fielding year for the conference, still 137th in the NCAA at .970. Not exceptional, but not a detriment either.

Series History

Nebraska is 14-2 against Penn State since joining the Big Ten in 2012. They have won both series in Lincoln, with a 5-1 record in those games. This is the first matchup in Lincoln since 2016, and they last met in 2021.

Nebraska has won 8 straight games against the Nittany Lions, dating back to Game 2 of their series in 2017. The 20-3 win the next day gave the Huskers their first Big Ten Conference Championship.

Husker Notes

  • Brice Matthews has 19 home runs and 19 stolen bases. Since 2011 only 6 players have been members of the 20-20 club, and only 2 in the regular season. Chris Alleyne last year at Maryland, and Mac Horvath this year at North Carolina.
  • Max Anderson is one of only 2 players hitting .400 with 19 HRs and 60 RBIs, joining Charlie Condron at Georgia
  • The Huskers are 7 home runs away from the school record of 93 set in 1985.
  • Shay Schanaman is now 5th all time in strikeouts at Nebraska, with 237. He passed Joba Chamberlain with his 7 Ks at Maryland, and could get as high as #4 by catching Matt Waldron with 253.
  • Nebraska will celebrate its 10 seniors on Sunday, including Casey Burnham, Kyle Perry, Luke Sartori, Jake Bunz, Mason Ornelas, Michael Garza, Charlie Fischer, Shay Schanaman, Efry Cervantes and Griffin Everitt. It isn’t known yet if Brice Matthews and Max Anderson will go through ceremonies as well.