After a perfect 5-0 home stand last week, Nebraska baseball will play its first road series of conference play in Minneapolis against Minnesota.
Last week, Nebraska (12-7 overall, 3-0 Big Ten) beat Air Force in a two-game series. The Huskers survived game one, winning 7-6, before dominating game two, beating the Falcons 12-3. After those games, Nebraska welcomed Michigan State to Hawks Field and the Huskers outscored the Spartans 15-5 in the three-game sweep. That marked Nebraska’s first conference sweep since 2016, when it swept Rutgers.
The Huskers will enter their second straight series without the services of freshman infielder Spencer Schwellenbach. Schwellenbach turned his ankle at first base during the second game against Air Force and was not able to play against Michigan State. Prior to that series, the freshman from Michigan had started in the field and batted leadoff every game.
Senior Alex Henwood returned from a shoulder injury during the MSU series to play second base. Henwood injured his shoulder against Oregon State and was held out until last weekend. Junior Mojo Hagge also resumed playing the outfield last week after being limited to the designated hitter role while he worked through arm soreness.
Against MSU, the Husker pitching staff was solid. Senior Matt Waldron threw a complete game in game one of Friday’s double-header before fellow senior Nate Fisher pitched 7.1 strong innings. That saved the bullpen for Sunday, when junior Reece Eddins lasted five innings and three relievers threw the last four innings.
Minnesota enters the weekend at 9-13 overall, but tied with Nebraska with a 3-0 mark in conference play. The Golden Gophers swept Penn State, winning once on Saturday and taking both games of a Sunday double-header.
Minnesota got contributions from players throughout its lineup in the weekend series. In game one, a 5-1 win, four different players drove in a run, including each of the 4-5-6 hitters. The Gophers also capitalized on a Nittany Lion error to score another run.
The offense exploded on Sunday, scoring 15 runs in the two games. The Gophers needed almost every last run as they won both games by two runs. Shortstop Jordan Kozicky, batting in the middle third of the lineup, drove in five runs on Sunday. The redshirt junior from Minneapolis is hitting .299 while playing in all 22 games. His average is tied for the second-highest on the team and is one of only six players to appear in each game.
Kozicky is tied for the team lead in home runs (3) and doubles (8), while he leads in total bases (42) and RBI (24). He has driven in 10 more runs than the next-closest player and is one of only three Minnesota players with a double-digit RBI. However, he has committed nine errors in 22 games, and the Gophers as a team only field at a .955 clip.
Patrick Fredrickson and Sam Thoreson have both started six games on the mound for Minnesota, but they have combined to post a record of only 2-5. They have also allowed 44 runs in 39.2 innings. The Gopher bullpen has shut opponents down, with three relievers having made eight appearances with ERAs under 3.35. Two of them have sub-1.50 ERAs.
Game one of the series is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Friday, while games two and three are set for 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.