What a difference a week makes. Consider the pitching of Cade Povich.
The junior left-hander has earned the Friday starting role for Nebraskan this season, but his first start might have been reason to call that role into question. Might have.
“It was an aberration,” Coach Will Bolt said on Wednesday.
Povich’s numbers in the opening-game start against Purdue, a Husker loss, were these: three innings, six hits, three earned runs, four walks and four strikeouts.
Compare those numbers to these, in Nebraska’s victory against Ohio State last Friday: six innings, five hits, three earned runs, two walks and 12 strikeouts. Again, 12 strikeouts.
Povich isn’t going to strikeout 12 every time he pitches, said Bolt, “but I think he’s got a three- or four-pitch mix going, with a pretty good fastball and fastball command.”
And strikeouts or not, “those are the type of outings that you can expect from him, just being able to throw the changeup in fastball counts, being able to land a breaking ball, fastball, (on) both sides of the plate . . . hopefully, that’s what we continue to see,” Bolt said.
Of immediate concern is the opener of a three-game series against Iowa in Iowa City on Friday at 4 p.m. Povich will get his third start against the 3-5 Hawkeyes, with whom Nebraska split two games at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis last weekend.
Povich didn’t pitch in either of those games.
Iowa will counter with left-hander Trenton Wallace, who didn’t pitch against the Huskers. They are familiar with the Hawkeyes’ other starters, however. Drew Irvine was charged with the loss and Duncan Davitt earned the win. Both are right-handers.
Nebraska’s other starters will be Chance Hroch and Shay Schanaman.
Hroch was the winning pitcher against Iowa, with seven strikeouts, one walk and five hits in six scoreless innings. Schanaman also didn’t pitch against the Hawkeyes.
Playing each other five times in two weekends results in obvious familiarity.
“There’s no secrets there with either team at this point, just seeing each other this many times in a row,” said Bolt. “I wouldn’t say you really do much different.
“They know a lot about us. We know a lot about them . . . you just go out there and play.”
Such a situation might benefit hitters a bit more than pitchers.
“I would say you get a lot of information as a hitter when you face a guy multiple times, especially within a game, and then you turn right around and face ‘em again the next week, you have a little bit fresher in your memory about the shape of the pitches,” Bolt said.
Freshman Max Anderson continues to lead the Huskers with a .367 batting average and two home runs, with eight runs-batted-in. Joe Acker, who opted to return for a fifth season, also has driven in eight runs, batting ninth in the order. He’s hitting .321.
Acker has “been great,” said Bolt. “He’s just given us quality at-bat after quality at-bat, and if you’re a good offense, you’ve got to have that at the bottom or the order, have guys that are going to give you the quality at-bats, six-, eight-pitch at-bats.
“Even if they don’t get a hit, they’re taking something from the pitcher.”
What Acker has done is “what you hope to get from a guy that made the decision to come back, a fifth-year guy who’s seen a lot of college baseball,” Bolt said
“Even his outs, his outs have been on the barrel, with a great approach.”
Saturday’s game is slated to start at 2 p.m., Sunday’s at 1 p.m.
All three games will be televised on BTN+.
The forecast for Iowa City, “if I’ve got some wood to knock on here, it looks like it’s going to be good weather,” Bolt said with a laugh. “I’ve never been warm in Iowa before, in my life.
“It looks like it’s going to be in the 50s, maybe, so I’m looking forward to some sunshine.”
He’ll also be looking for the Povich he saw in Minneapolis, not Round Rock, Texas.