Monday, ESPN2, 11 a.m. That’s when and where the NCAA regional qualifiers, matchups and locations will be announced. As Big Ten champion, Nebraska has already qualified.
But its first opponent and where?
The Huskers will watch the announcement show on the videoboard at Hawks Field, where they took two-of-three from Michigan over the weekend, winning 1-0 on Friday, then losing 2-0 in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday before closing the regular season with a 5-3 victory.
They were supposed to play one game on Saturday and one on Sunday. But because of rain in the forecast, the coaches decided to play two, with Nebraska finishing as a conference champion should, the Huskers at 31-12, Michigan, almost certainly regional-bound, 27-17.
The series was one of curiosities, beginning with Cade Povich’s “immaculate” first inning on Friday, nine pitches, three strikeouts, and ending with a Spencer Schwellenbach strikeout of the only batter he faced in Saturday’s second game—to earn his ninth save.
Pitching dominated the weekend.
Husker pitchers had a shutout with the bases empty and two outs into the ninth inning on Saturday until Emmett Olson, Nebraska’s third pitcher, gave up three-consecutive hits and three runs.
Earlier, the Wolverines’ Cameron Weston had pitched the first seven innings of the five-hit shutout of the Huskers, only the third time they’ve been shut out this season.
Iowa and Rutgers each shut them out once.
Nebraska went into the weekend with the Big Ten’s best team batting average, .282.
Povich would strike out six more, walk only one and allow four hits in seven innings total on Friday, with Jake Bunz and Schwellenbach each pitching a hitless inning—Schwellenbach’s eighth save.
Luke Roskam drove in the only run with a two-out, sixth-inning single, scoring Schwellenbach, who also had singled and then stole second base.
Michigan got RBI-singles in the fourth and fifth innings, against starter Chance Hroch, in Saturday’s first game. The Wolverines managed only three other hits, all against Hroch.
Jaxon Hallmark went 2-for-3 with a home run in the second game.
Max Anderson was 2-for-4 with a home run and two runs-batted-in. His home run came to lead off the eighth inning, his final at-bat of the regular season, another curiosity. The freshman from Omaha also hit a home run in his first at-bat of the season, first pitch.
Olson was preceded on the mound by Kyle Perry and Shay Schanaman. Perry didn’t allow a hit, walked one and struck out four, in three scoreless innings. Schanaman, in his first appearance in relief this season after 11 starts, allowed three hits and struck out five, without a walk, in four scoreless innings.
Saturday was Senior Day, with nine Husker seniors honored before the first game. Joe Acker, Logan Foster, Mojo Hagge, Jaxon Hallmark, Gunner Hellstrom, Chance Hroch, Trey Kissack, Luke Roskam and Max Schreiber all played what could be their final game at Hawks Field.
Acker, Hagge and Roskam definitely won’t return, having already played an extra season allowed because of the COVID pandemic. Foster might not be able to return, either, because he transferred from Texas A&M and so had to sit out last season anyway.
Schwellenbach, a junior, also figures to leave by way of the Major League Draft.
The pandemic seemed in the rearview mirror. Official attendance on Saturday was 7,650, after 5,434 on Friday.
Most of those who remained for the second game stood and clapped as Schwellenbach came on to strike out Michigan’s Danny Zimmerman and wrap up the regular season.
Now “it’s five wins to Omaha,” Will Bolt said during his post-game radio interview.
Three of those would have to come in a regional.
Where and against whom?
The Huskers will find out on Monday, not long after 11 a.m., on ESPN2.
Mike is in his 40th year covering Husker athletics, after seven years of community-college teaching. He has written and edited a dozen books, all on Nebraska football except one, a brief history of Husker basketball. He previously wrote for the Lincoln Journal and Star and Huskers Illustrated. He enjoys music, from the Grateful Dead and Jack Johnson to Van Morrison, Bob Wills, Glenn Miller and pretty much anyone else.