The Husker baseball team opens up the 2013 season with four games in California. Here’s a look at the matchups this opening weekend.
Nebraska (0-0, 0-0 Big Ten) at CSU Bakersfield (0-0, 0-0 WAC) Friday, Feb. 15 – 5 p.m. (CT)
RHP Brandon Pierce (0-0) vs. LHP Jeff McKenzie (0-0)
Nebraska (0-0, 0-0 Big Ten) at No. 22 Cal State Fullerton (0-0, 0-0 Big West) Saturday, Feb. 16 – 4/7p.m. (CT)
(Gm. 1) – RHP Ryan Hander vs. RHP Grahamm Wiest (0-0)
(Gm. 2) – LHP Zach Hirsch vs. RHP Justin Garza (0-0)
Nebraska (0-0, 0-0 Big Ten) at USC (0-0, 0-0 Pac-12) Sunday, Feb. 17 – 3 p.m. (CT)
RHP Christian DeLeon (0-0) vs. LHP Kyle Twomey (0-0)
The Huskers open the 2013 campaign in Bakersfield, Calif., on Friday with a 5 p.m. (CT) game with the CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners at Hardt Field. The Roadrunners hold a 3-2 advantage in the all-time series, while the teams split a two-game series last year in Lincoln, as the third game in the series was cancelled due to rain.
Nebraska’s West Coast trip continues on Saturday when it heads south down Interstate 5 to Fullerton, Calif., for a double header with the No. 22 Cal State Fullerton Titans. Coming off their 26th Big West Conference title and their 21st-straight NCAA Tournament appearance, the Titans host the Huskers for a pair of games starting at 4 p.m. (CT) at Goodwin Field. The Huskers are 0-2 all-time against the Titans, as Fullerton won at home, 9-7 in 1984, and held on to a 5-4 win over the Huskers at Rosenblatt in the opening round of the 2001 College World Series.
NU’s weekend comes to a close on Sunday with a trip to Dedeaux Field on the campus of Southern California for a 3 p.m. (CT) meeting with the Trojans. It will be the first meeting between the Huskers and Trojans since 2005 and the first time the teams have met in Los Angeles since 1984. Nebraska holds a 2-1 advantage in the all-time series, with both wins coming in Los Angeles in 1979 and 1984.
The Huskers led the Big Ten Conference in six categories, including home runs (47), RBIs (375), runs (413), total bases (916), on-base pct. (.384) and slugging pct. (.445).
The Huskers were ranked in the top-20 nationally in seven categories, including top-10 rankings in both batting average and scoring. After hitting .270 as a team in 2011, the Huskers hit .315 in 2012 to rank eighth in the country. The Huskers also ranked eighth nationally in scoring with 7.1 runs per game after scoring 5.4 runs a game in 2011.
On the mound, Nebraska staff’s should continue to improve. The NU pitching staff gave up 13 fewer runs in the final 12 game of Big Ten action, while also surrendering few walks and producing more strikeouts. Opponents hit .307 at the plate in the first half of the conference season, but just .293 over the final 12 games of the year.
Out of the 14 players who saw action on the mound a year ago, nine return, including four pitchers who started four or more games. Silva brought in nine new pitchers as well, which should breed plenty of competition on the mound.
Nebraska is scheduled to play 19 of its first 24 games on the road, including four games in the Southern California area to open the season.