Photo Credit: John Peterson

Nebraska Baseball Heads Into Key Road Series Against Iowa

April 21, 2023

Nebraska baseball takes on Iowa this weekend in one of the team’s biggest series of the season. 

Of the teams the Huskers (21-11-1, 7-2 Big Ten) will face in the four remaining weeks of the regular season, the Hawkeyes (26-10, 4-5) own the second-best RPI at No. 57. That’s one spot behind Maryland, a team which is also on the Husker schedule. No other upcoming opponent makes the top 100.

Nebraska’s current ranking is No. 111, making this a good opportunity for the team to prove itself a bit. Looking toward the NCAA tournament, the best path to a regional bid might be to win the Big Ten, but it wouldn’t hurt to strengthen the at-large résumé as much as possible. Winning this series would also keep Nebraska near the top of the conference standings.

The Huskers have had success in recent weekends. They took two of three games from top-100 RPI teams Illinois and Michigan before sweeping a struggling Northwestern squad. A deep lineup led by Max Anderson and Brice Matthews have kept the offense strong, while the pitching continues to find success. 

The pitching rotation is back to full strength this weekend as well. Jace Kaminska is the usual Saturday starter, but took last week off for rest. He’s back now, and head coach Will Bolt is confident in what he’s been seeing from the junior with a 3.98 earned run average.

“It did wonders for him,” Bolt said of Kaminska’s break. “Because he felt really good, he threw his pen yesterday, stuff looked really sharp, breaking ball looked sharp and he said he feels great. Excited to get him back in there.”

Sunday’s starter is to be announced, as the team decides between two solid options in Will Walsh and Jackson Brockett.

Kaminska’s last two starts have been rough, while Friday starter Emmett Olson had one of his worst outings of the year in last week’s opening matchup with Northwestern. Those two have been solid starters for the Huskers all season, and coming out strong against a good Iowa lineup will be important.

Despite a middling batting average, the Hawkeyes are second in the Big Ten in runs and on-base percentage. That’s thanks to a conference-leading 88 doubles, along with strong plate discipline. They’ve drawn 204 walks and 69 hit-by-pitches, adding up to the second-most free trips to first base in the league.

Nebraska’s own performance at the plate will be worth watching against the Big Ten leaders in ERA. Brody Brecht, who Bolt said is “as good as anybody in the country,” leads that charge. His fastball speed gets up to triple digits, and the Huskers are prepared. 

“Yeah he throws hard, but throw hard, the ball goes a long ways when you make contact,” outfielder Garrett Anglim said. “So keeping it simple, get runners on base and put the ball in play.”

Brecht, carrying a 3.20 ERA, issues more walks than any pitcher in the conference. Iowa’s Sunday starter, Ty Langenberg, makes the top 10 in that category. That’s something the Huskers feel they can take advantage of. 

“There’s some long counts to be had, if you’re willing to get in the fight a little bit,” Bolt said. “It’s also a little bit of a catch-22, because you hit with two strikes a lot against guys with great stuff, you can come up with some empty at-bats, but if you stack enough good at-bats together, you can drive the pitch count up a little bit.”

This rivalry matchup will be key for both teams, as Iowa looks to continue building its résumé for the postseason. The Hawkeyes have a win over No. 1 LSU, but lost their first two conference series to quality opponents.

There’s still a significant amount of the schedule remaining for both teams, so there’s room for things to change in the next month. However, both teams may view this as a key opportunity.

“They’re at a point in their season just like we are, where, you know, the season can go one way or the other just with one weekend,” Bolt said. “They got a really good team, we know that, it’s gonna be a great challenge.”

  • Never miss the latest news from Hail Varsity!

    Join our free email list by signing up below.

Tags: Baseball