Ah, the joys of the Internet, or at least the benefits.
Consider the Nebraska baseball team’s weekend non-conference series with Western Carolina at Hawks Field at Haymarket Park.
“When you have a weekend where you can’t find a match, you go on a website and you put your name out there and say you’re looking for a home game, and they call,” Coach Darin Erstad said following the Huskers’ two-game sweep of Northern Colorado.
They, in this case, were the Western Carolina Catamounts, who eliminated Nebraska from NCAA regional play at Clemson last season, 4-1.
The Huskers lost the regional opener to Oklahoma State, 6-0.
This weekend’s series was scheduled before the regional game, “probably a year, year and a half ago,” said Erstad. “We had it set up and then we played them in the regionals.”
Barring the intercession of weather – the forecast includes snow – the 5-6 Huskers and 5-7 Catamounts are scheduled for three games, the first at 1:35 p.m. on Friday. Jake Hohensee is set to start for Nebraska. The junior right-hander is 0-1 with a 5.40 earned-run-average.
Senior left-hander Bryan Sammons (2-0, 3.05) will be Western Carolina’s starter.
The other Husker starters are scheduled to be Derek Burkamper (0-1, 6.00) on Saturday and Jake Meyers (1-1, 4.32) on Sunday – if the weather allows.
“Last year they knocked us out of the tournament,” said Jesse Wilkening, Nebraska’s sophomore catcher. “We’re looking for a little revenge this weekend.”
The Huskers “can’t wait to get after them,” he said.
Freshman Mojo Hagge agrees, even though he wasn’t a part of it last season. “A lot of guys have talked about how this is a big home series for us and how everybody wants to go out and get the wins,” he said. “So everyone has to come out focused and be ready for the games.”
Hagge has been focused in his first collegiate season. The walk-on from Omaha leads Nebraska in hits (14), walks (7) and batting average (.389), and he has reached base in 10 consecutive games, nine of them as an outfield starter, in right and in Wednesday’s game, left.
“He is a freshman and he does have some things he has to work on, but just there’s a lot of mentality, there’s a lot of heart there, and that goes a long way,” Erstad said. “He’s just one of those kids that, you know, wanted an opportunity, and boy, is he making the most of it.”
So is sophomore Angelo Altavilla, who’s second among the regulars with a .344 batting average and eight runs-batted-in, one behind Scott Schreiber, who has the team’s only home run.
Nebraska’s bullpen continues to get the job done. Since April 29 last season, the Huskers have won 16 consecutive games when leading after eight innings. Jake McSteen and Chad Luensmann lead the relievers. McSteen is 1-0 with a 1.08 ERA, Luensmann 1-0 with a 2.19 ERA and two saves.
Erstad said his wife Jessica knows Western Carolina Athletic Director Randy Eaton, “so it’s kind of cool, just how worlds collide. It’s pretty neat,” he said.
Thanks to the Internet.
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.