Huskers and Huskies Meet Tonight in NCAA Tournament
The No. 2 seed Nebraska baseball team (31-12) opens the 2021 NCAA Tournament tonight at 7 PM in Fayetteville, Ark., against the No. 3 seed Northeastern Huskies (36-10, 20-3 CAA). It will be the first-ever meeting between the two programs.
The Arkansas Razorbacks are the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament and will play New Jersey Tech earlier in the day on Friday at 2 PM.
Nebraska was one of three Big Ten teams to hear its name called on selection Monday. Maryland was named a three-seed at the Greenville Regional and will play Charlotte, while third-seeded Michigan will take on UConn at the South Bend Regional.
Nebraska and Northeastern each secured automatic bids to the postseason, with the Huskers taking the Big Ten regular-season title, while the Huskies won the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament for the first time in program history. The Huskies had to battle back through the loser's bracket of their conference tournament, going 4-1 over a four-day span, including a championship win over UNC Wilmington when Max Viera hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning.
Nebraska will make its 17th NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, and the 14th appearance in the last 21 seasons (the 2020 season isn't included as it was cut short due to COVID-19).
The Huskers enter Friday winners in 11 of their last 13 games and posted an 11-4 record in the month of May.
Northeastern is making its second regional appearance in the last three years after earning an at-large bid in 2018. Overall, the Huskies are making their ninth overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament, including a trip to the College World Series in 1966.
Friday night's game will be video streamed on ESPN3. Fans can listen to Greg Sharpe and Ben McLaughlin call the action this weekend on the Learfield/IMG College Husker Sports Network. Every game this season can be heard for free on Huskers.com and the Official Nebraska Huskers App for both iOS and android devices.
Last Time Out
Nebraska capped a 31-12 regular season with a series win over the Michigan Wolverines. The Huskers shutout the Wolverines in the opener, 1-0, and then due to impending weather on Sunday the teams played a doubleheader on Saturday. Michigan took game one of the double dip, 2-0, before Nebraska responded with a 5-3 victory in the regular-season finale to take the series.
5/28: Nebraska 1 - Michigan 0
5/29: Michigan 2 - Nebraska 0
5/29: Nebraska 5 - Michigan 3
Nebraska and Northeastern meet for the first time on Friday night at 7 PM. The winner of Friday's game will meet the winner of Arkansas and NJIT, while the loser falls into the elimination side of the bracket.
NCAA Tournament History
Nebraska will be making its 17th appearance in the NCAA Tournament this weekend, including the 14th in the past 21 seasons (2020 not included due to COVID-19).
The Huskers have advanced to a Super Regional four times since 2000, but haven't reached the Super Regional round since 2005 when the Huskers made their third trip to the College World Series.
1979 - Annapolis Regional (1-2)
1980 - Ann Arbor Regional (2-2)
1985 - Palo Alto Regional (1-2)
1999 - Columbus Regional (1-2)
2000 - Minneapolis Regional (3-0), Stanford Super Regional (1-2)
2001 - Lincoln Regional (3-0), Lincoln Super Regional (2-0), CWS (0-2)
2002 - Lincoln Regional (3-0), Lincoln Super Regional (2-1), CWS (0-2)
2003 - Lincoln Regional (3-2)
2005 - Lincoln Regional (3-0), Lincoln Super Regional (2-0), CWS (1-2)
2006 - Lincoln Regional (0-2)
2007 - Tempe Regional (2-2)
2008 - Lincoln Regional (1-2)
2014 - Stillwater Regional (1-2)
2016 - Clemson Regional (0-2)
2017 - Corvallis Regional (0-2)
2019 - Oklahoma City Regional (1-2)
2021 - Fayetteville Regional
Talented Field in Fayetteville
The Fayetteville Regional is hosted by the tournament No. 1 overall seed Arkansas Razorbacks, but also includes three other programs that have produced stellar 2021 campaigns.
• The Fayetteville Regional is the only one of the 16 regional sites to be completely made up of automatic qualifiers. Arkansas (SEC), Northeastern (CAA) and New Jersey Tech (America East) all won their conference tournaments, while the Huskers won the Big Ten regular-season title and earned the league's automatic bid because there was no Big Ten Tournament this season.
• The four teams enter the postseason on hot streaks, as each program has posted double-digit wins over their past 15 games
Last 15 Games
• The four teams at the Fayetteville Regional have combined for the best winning percentage in the field with a 139-54 record (.720). The Knoxville Regional is the only other site with a combined winning percentage over .700, as Tennessee Wright St., Liberty and Duke posted a 151-61 record (.712). The Columbia Regional posted the lowest winning percentage, with Old Dominion, Jacksonville, Virginia and South Carolina combining for 120-90 record (.571).
Huskers Headline Big Ten Awards
Nebraska was well represented when the 2021 Big Ten baseball award were announced, as the program captured Big Ten Player of the Year, Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Big Ten Coach of the Year.
• Spencer Schwellenbach is the first Husker baseball player to be named conference player of the year since 2005, when Alex Gordon won Big 12 Player of the Year for the second straight season. He is the seventh player in program history to earn the honor, joining Gordon (2004, 2005), Matt Hopper (2003), Aaron Marsden (2003), Jed Morris (2002), Shane Komine (2000, 2001) and Darin Erstad (1995).
• Max Anderson is the fifth player in program history to be named conference freshman of the year. Chad Luensman was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2016, while Shane Komine (1999), Matt Hopper (2000) and Johnny Dorn (2005) were all named Big 12 Freshman of the Year.
• Will Bolt was tabbed as the league's coach of the year in his first Big Ten season after last year was cut short due to COVID-19. The Huskers won their first Big Ten regular-season title under Bolt's leadership and secured the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Nebraska posted a 31-12 conference record and won the Big Ten title after not being picked in the top six of the preseason coaches' poll. Bolt is Nebraska's second baseball coach to be named Big Ten Coach of the Year, as Darin Erstad earned the honor in 2017.
• Nebraska had four first-team All-Big Ten honorees, its most in a single season since NU joined the Big Ten. Nebraska has previously earned three first-team honors in both 2012 and 2014. Nebraska last produced four first-team selections as a member of the Big 12 Conference in 2005.
• Schwellenbach was the relief pitcher on the All-Big Ten first team and was joined by teammates Luke Roskam (catcher), Jaxon Hallmark (outfielder) and Cade Povich (starting pitcher). Anderson was tabbed as the second-team third baseman and was also honored on the all-freshman team along with Brice Matthews as an at-large pick. Joe Acker was Nebraska's Sportsmanship Award Honoree.
Big Ten Champs
The Nebraska baseball team capped a 4-0 trip to the Bloomington Pod two weeks ago with a 9-0 victory on Sunday over Ohio State the secured the 2021 Big Ten regular-season title.
• After joining the Big Ten for the 2012 season, the Huskers have now won a pair of Big Ten titles, as they also won the 2017 regular-season crown.
• After winning four conference titles as a player at Nebraska, Head Coach Will Bolt secured his first conference title as a head coach in Lincoln in just his second season at the helm of the Husker baseball program.
• In program history, Nebraska now has eight conference regular-season titles and four conference tournament titles.
• The Huskers were not picked in the top six of the preseason coaches' poll.
Win the Weekend
Nebraska won seven straight conference series to start the 2021 season (the Minnesota, Piscataway and Bloomington Pods are not included).
• Prior to this season, Nebraska had never won seven straight conference series to start a season.
• The seven-series winning streak was snapped when Nebraska was swept at home by Rutgers. It was the first time Nebraska had been swept at home during the Big Ten era and the first time it had happened during a conference series since 2009 when NU lost three straight to Missouri during the Big 12 era.
• During the Big Ten era, the Huskers previously had never won more than three straight conference series to start a season (2013 and 2016).
• Prior to this season, Nebraska won six straight conference series to start the 2006 season, before dropping 2-of-3 at Oklahoma State. The 2006 Huskers started the year with conference wins over Kansas (2-1), Kansas State (2-1), Missouri (3-0), Texas A&M (3-0), Texas (2-1) and Texas Tech (3-0).
• This season the Huskers secured a series victory with a win in the series finale six times - Purdue, Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan State, Michigan.
• This season Nebraska dropped the series opener three times - Purdue, Iowa and Rutgers.
2021 Series Wins
vs. Purdue (3-1)
at Iowa (2-1)
at Illinois (2-1)
at Penn State (3-0)
at Michigan State (2-1)
Let's Go Streaking
• Nebraska saw its nine-game winning streak come to an end last Saturday in the first game of a doubleheader with Michigan. Earlier this season, Nebraska had a seven-game winning streak.
• The last time Nebraska won nine straight games was 2015, when the Huskers reeled off 11 straight wins. - Nebraska had an nine-game unbeaten streak in 2017. The Huskers won five straight, tied Indiana, and then won three straight following the tie.
Control the Bases
• Nebraska was the top team in the Big Ten this season at limiting stolen bases as opponents converted a steal just 56% of the time (15-27).
• While Nebraska's defense limited stolen bases, its offense was second in the league with 64 steals in 78 tries, an 82% success rate. Maryland led the Big Ten with 66 steals in 82 attempts (80%).
In the Polls
On Monday, April 26, the Nebraska baseball team was ranked by D1Baseball (#22), Baseball America (#24) and Perfect Game (#19). It was the first time during the 2021 season that the Huskers were ranked by D1 Baseball or Baseball America, while Nebraska had continued to climb the Perfect Game rankings since entering that poll on April 12.
• The Huskers were then swept by Rutgers the following weekend and were not ranked by any of the three polls on May 3, 10 or 17.
• After going 4-0 in the Bloomington Pod and winning the Big Ten regular-season title the Huskers were back in the polls on Monday, May 24.
• Entering the NCAA Tournament the Huskers are ranked 19th by Baseball American and 20th by both D1Baseball and Perfect Game.
• Prior to this season, Nebraska was last ranked at the end of the 2017 season when Baseball America had the Huskers tabbed #25 in the country heading into the NCAA Tournament. That year the Huskers were a No. 2 seed in the Corvallis Regional.
Back for Year No. 5
Three Huskers came back for their fifth season as a Husker in 2021, including Joe Acker, Mojo Hagge and Luke Roskam.
• All three have won two Big Ten regular-season titles as they were all freshman on the 2017 team that won Nebraska's first Big Ten championship.
• Entering Friday, the trio has combined to play in 548 games (Acker - 143, Hagge - 210, Roskam - 195) and 461 starts (Acker - 120, Hagge - 161, Roskam - 180).
• Joe Acker and Mojo Hagge were each been named team captains for the 2021 season.
Swiss Army Knife
First-team All-Big Ten outfielder Jaxon Hallmark has been a tough on opposing defenses this year both at the plate and on the base paths.
• Hallmark tied teammate Max Anderson for the league lead in hits with 60, tied teammate Joe Acker for second with 43 runs scored, ranked sixth with a .341 batting average and was third in stolen bases with 15. He has also laid down six sacrifice bunts on the year, which was tied for fourth in the league.
• Also a stellar defender, Hallmark has posted a perfect fielding percentage and has four outfield assists.
Joe Acker moved to the lead-off spot in the Husker lineup for the series opener at Iowa.
• Over the last 35 games Acker has reached base in his plate appearance of the game 18 times, including nine walks, one hit-by-pitch and a home run.
• On the year, Acker ranked second in the Big Ten with 43 runs scored and is third on the team with 24 walks.
• In 2021, Acker has posted a .375 on-base percentage. His previous season-highs for on-base percentage were .364 in 2020 (15 games) and .345 in 2019 (46 games).
Shut the Door
After spending his first two seasons at Nebraska playing strictly as a position player, Spencer Schwellenbach has also taken the mound in 2021 and has served as Nebraska's closer.
• The 2021 Big Ten Player of the Year has been electric out of the bullpen with nine saves and a blistering 0.71 ERA in 25.1 innings over 16 appearances.
• He has struck out 29, walked six and has allowed just two earned runs.
Let Him Out of the Pen
Elkhorn native Jake Bunz transferred to Nebraska after spending two seasons at Hutchinson Community College. The 6-5 lefty has been a vital arm for the Huskers in 2021, as he has made 17 appearances - including three starts.
• Has a 1.97 ERA with seven runs allowed over 32.0 innings. Three runs came in a start against Iowa in Minneapolis. He has allowed just four runs in 21.0 innings of relief over 14 appearances.
• In his 14 relief appearances has 29 strikeouts to 10 walks.
Flash the Leather
Nebraska enters the NCAA Tournament ranked seventh in the country with a .982 fielding percentage.
• NU has not committed an error in 23 of its 43 games and have committed multiple errors just eight times.
• Nebraska has yet to commit more than two errors in a game this season.
• Iowa is the next closest Big Ten school and ranks 38th nationally with a .977 fielding percentage.
Deliver on the Mound
• Nebraska ranks 22nd in the county with a 3.77 ERA. It was the second-lowest ERA in the Big Ten this season, trailing Indiana's 3.18 ERA.
• It's the lowest mark by a Husker pitching staff since 2017, when NU posted a 3.73 ERA.
• Since joining the Big Ten for the 2012 season the Huskers have posted a sub 4.00 ERA four times, including 2014 (3.50), 2015 (3.12), 2016 (3.89) and 2017 (3.73).
• Nebraska issued a Big Ten-low 138 walks during the regular season, an average of 3.2 per game. Minnesota led the league with 249 walks in 37 games, an average of 6.7 per game.
Cross the Plate
• Nebraska enters Friday ranked 38th in the county in scoring with 7.0 runs per game
• The Huskers are 24-2 this year when scoring six runs or more and have been shutout just three times in 43 games this season.
• Nebraska is 27-5 this season when it scores first.
• The only inning the Huskers have been outscored in this season is the fifth, with opponents holding a 32-28 advantage.
• Nebraska's largest scoring advantage in an inning is the second, when it is +27 (39-12).
• The Huskers are 23-1 this season when they outhit their opponent. The only loss came in the season-opening loss to Purdue and the Huskers outhit the Boilermakers, 15-11.