Huskers look to regain momentum against Big Ten leader Minnesota

David Eickholt, Staff
Husker Online

Table Name




TuneIn App

Friday: Nebraska vs. Minnesota (6:30 p.m.)

BTN Plus

1400/590 AM

Husker IMG Sports Network Channel

Saturday: Nebraska vs. Minnesota (2:00 p.m.)

BTN Plus

1400/590 AM

Husker IMG Sports Network Channel

Sunday: Nebraska vs. Minnesota (1:00 p.m.)

BTN Plus

1400/590 AM

Husker IMG Sports Network Channel

Nebraska, fresh off its first series loss in Big Ten play and a bad loss against a relatively hot Creighton team, is looking to bounce back this weekend against the conference-leading Minnesota Golden Gophers (22-10, 7-2).

"It was a tough game, Creighton played well," junior pitcher Jake Meyers said. "We didn't play as well as we wanted too, but now we just need to get to the next game."

The Huskers (21-14-1, 3-3) travel to Minneapolis this weekend looking to test a Minnesota team that has grabbed a hold of the top spot in the Big Ten. NU will look to turn around a trend of recent struggles.

"There's always a sense of urgency in the locker room," sophomore infielder Angelo Altavilla said. "Everybody wants to win, that's what it ultimately comes down to. We are taking it game-by-game, inning-by-inning, and pitch-by-pitch, and that's all you can do right now."

After Nebraska looked to have turned its season around, it's now lost three of its last four and is looking to get things back on the right track. The Huskers are 10-9-1 away from home this season, including a 7-3-1 record in true road games.

A series win this weekend could set NU up for a late season run at a regular season Big Ten title, as the Huskers will have a much easier schedule in the last part of the year None of Nebraska's remaining schedule is in the top five of the Big Ten standings.

Probable starters:

Friday, April 21 (6:00 p.m.): Nebraska RHP Jake Hohensee (4-2, 3.06 ERA, 47.0 IP, 31K) vs. Minnesota TBA

Saturday, April 22 (2:00 p.m.): Nebraska RHP Derek Burkamper (2-3, 3.75 ERA, 36.0 IP, 30 K) vs. Minnesota TBA

Sunday, April 23 (1:00 p.m.): Nebraska LHP Jake Meyers (5-1, 2.54 ERA, 49.2 IP, 30 K) vs. Minnesota TBA

Quick hits

***Despite losing to Creighton on Tuesday, who was #181 in the NCAA RPI rankings, head coach Darin Erstad said that this weekend's series against the Big Ten leader meant no more to him than any other game.

"You start putting more significance on one game over another, what are you going to do, try harder?" Erstad said. "Shouldn't you do that all the time? That makes no sense to me.

"You're letting an outside circumstance dictate how you're going to play. That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. That's not how consistency is built."

***Ben Miller was batting .205 on the year going into the series finale against Indiana on April 1. Since then, he has hit .404 at the plate and raised his average 72 points.

"I personally think he was hitting the ball harder when he was stinking," Erstad said. "Ben just has such a level head and has a lot of experience. Guys like him, the numbers are going to be where they are at the end of the year. I've just been impressed with him...

"He's played well defensively. He's diving into the stands on his knees and he's talking more and he's encouraging guys, it's been tremoudous leadership."

***Meyers will close out the series on the mound on. Sunday.

"It's a credit to him playing Friday and Saturday and still having the strength to find a way to get it done on the mound Sunday, and hitting as well," Erstad said. "He competes and gives us a chance to win, and that's all we ask him to do."

***Nebraska is one of the last teams in the College World Series according to's bracketology, and a series win against Minnesota (RPI 48) would give it some breathing room. Although the hype is building, the players are ignoring the rising expectations.

"At this point, there is so much that can happen during the rest of the season," Meyers said. "We are just going to take it game-by-game and we are confident with that. When we think about that, then when we go out there, we aren't thinking about the game."

In the other dugout

***Minnesota is 21-10 on the year and is leading the Big Ten with a 7-2 conference record. Despite playing nine Big Ten games, the Gophers have yet to host a home series because their series against Rutgers, that was scheduled for April 7-9, was cancelled due to poor weather. Nebraska leads the all-time series against Minnesota 25-24-1. The last time the teams met was in 2015 when Nebraska took the series win 2-1.

*** The Gophers' offense isn't exactly a power-hitting lineup, as they only have 20 home runs as a team for the year. They do have six guys batting over .300, including four starters led by Luke Pettersen, who is batting .349 for the season.

"They are stringing hits together like nobody business," Erstad said. "They are putting up a lot of runs and we are going to need to be sharp in all parts of the game."

***The Minnesota pitching staff is led by junior Lucas Gilbreath (4-0, 43.1 IP 50K) who had a 2.38 ERA for the season, good for the third lowest in the conference. They also have the league's best relief pitcher in senior Brian Glowicki, who leads the Big Ten with 12 saves and has a .044 ERA with 24 strikeouts. The Gophers also have sophomore Nick Lackney (2-1, 13 relief appearances, 17 K). Erstad complimented the Gophers by saying they have some good arms and they play some great defense.

***If Nebraska was hoping to make up any ground, this is the week to do it. The remaining schedule for Big Ten play for the Gophers is relatively weak. They will play home series against Illinois and Purdue, who are both in the bottom four in the Big Ten, and they will travel to take on last-place Penn State on May 5-7.

What to Read Next