Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Perry Can’t Pitch, Yet, But Still Fills an Important Role for Nebraska

April 15, 2021

Will Bolt talked about assistants during his weekly Zoom news conference on Wednesday: Lance Harvell, Jeff Christy and . . . uh, Kyle Perry.

Actually, Perry isn’t an assistant. He’s a Husker pitcher who’s recovering from Tommy John surgery, which he underwent in the summer. The junior left-hander from Omaha could “make an impact” in a limited way out of the bullpen “in the next few weeks,” Bolt said.

But he hasn’t pitched since the abbreviated 2020 season, 10.2 innings.

Despite his inability to pitch, however, Perry has made road trips this season “because of what he brings to the team from a chemistry standpoint,” said Bolt.

“He brings intensity, but he also has a way of keeping it loose as well, which is what you want. That’s what you want in the dugout. I kind of put him in charge at times in the dugout and we go back and forth during the game . . . he brings that attitude to the yard every day.”

Attitude is a shared characteristic on Bolt’s 15-6 Nebraska team, which carries a first-place lead, by a half-game, in the Big Ten as it travels to Penn State for a three-game series this weekend.

Friday’s game is slated for a 5 p.m. (CT) start at Medlar Field in University Park, with a noon (CT) start on Saturday and a 10 a.m. (CT) first pitch on Sunday.

BTN+ will televise the games.

The Huskers’ weekend rotation will be the same: Cade Povich (3-1, 3.74), Chance Hroch (2-0, 5.70) and Shay Schanaman (3-0, 5.59). Penn State’s starters are listed as TBA.

The Nittany Lions are 8-13, after going 2-2 last weekend.

Rodney Dangerfield’s “can’t get no respect” could serve as a theme for Nebraska nationally to this point. Despite their record and first-place in the conference, the Huskers’ only ranking is No. 29 in the Collegiate Baseball poll. They were among others receiving votes in the NCBWA poll.

Michigan is the only Big Ten team in any Top 25. The Wolverines are No. 18 according to Collegiate Baseball, No. 24 in the NCBWA and Baseball America polls and No. 25 in the D1Baseball.com poll.

Even so, Nebraska has put in a bid to play host to an NCAA regional.

“If we keep playing at a high level of baseball, we’d have an opportunity to host,” Bolt said. “We feel like we have the facility to do so and fan base to do so . . . we have the administration that’s very supportive. We’ve done it in the past and we’d love to have the opportunity to do it again.”

Nebraska last played host to a regional in 2008.

This week’s Baseball America field-of-64 projections have the Huskers as the No. 2 seed in the Fayetteville, Arkansas, Regional, which includes No. 1-ranked Arkansas.

Michigan and Ohio State are the only other Big Ten teams in the field-of-64 projections.

But half the season remains. Much can happen before the field of 64 is set. Nebraska needs to maintain its Bolt-mandated attitude, focus on the task at-hand, game-to-game. His assistants reinforce that. “You’ve gotta hire the right guys,” said Bolt. “You’ve gotta hire guys you trust and you have camaraderie with and just let ‘em do their job. That’s the biggest part.

“That’s what I learned watching Coach (Dave) Van Horn and Coach (Rob) Childress, having worked for him, and Darin (Erstad), for that matter. Darin hired me and gave me a ton of responsibilities and let me kind of get my feet wet as a Division I assistant coach.”

The right guys, such as Harvell and Christy.

And Perry has contributed some, too.

You “gotta love ‘KP,’” Bolt said. “He’s an energy-giver man.”

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