Friday, May 30, 2008
NU's Anderson: Pitching Jennings not a risk
Several well-intentioned skippers have attempted to fly in the face of that long-standing logic over the years at many different levels. Some of them have met with disastrous results as they dared to temp the fate of the baseball gods.
However, that's exactly what Nebraska baseball coach Mike Anderson plans to do in Friday's NCAA Tournament regional opener against fourth-seeded Eastern Illinois when he'll "pitch off" and start junior left-hander Dan Jennings against the Panthers. The move allows the Huskers to save No. 1 starter Johnny Dorn for a Saturday start against either No. 2 seed UC Irvine or No. 3 seed Oral Roberts, ideally in a winner's-bracket game.
Anderson recognizes that the decision not to throw Dorn in game one opens him up to criticism should the Cornhuskers either get upset or have to deplete their bullpen to pull off a victory against the regional's bottom seed. But the sixth-year coach insists that he doesn't feel like pitching Jennings, who has a 6-3 record with four saves and a 2.95 ERA, classifies as a risk and that his pitching plan gives top-seeded Nebraska its best opportunity to win the regional.
"I feel like it's the right move," Anderson told reporters Thursday after his team's practice at Haymarket Park. "Other people can categorize it as a risk or not.
"I feel like it's the right move and feel confident Dan Jennings, feel confident in Johnny Dorn and if it works, great. If it doesn’t, we still feel confident in it."
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
The bubble hasn't burst yet for Nebraska
Sure, the Cornhuskers could've helped themselves out greatly in terms of national perception by winning just one of the three games against a No. 12-ranked Missouri squad. Or, simply not getting blown out 22-9 in last Saturday's game against the Tigers would probably have helped matters.
However, in a sport like baseball where every team truly is capable of beating every other team on a given day and hot and cold streaks are commonplace, it's a bit radical to think that Nebraska's bid to earn a national seed will be completely dashed by one weekend. The Huskers (39-12-1) are No. 7 in the country in the pseudo-RPI rankings posted at www.warrennolan.com, have a winning record against top-50 RPI teams and still managed to win seven of nine series in Big 12 Conference play.
When the NCAA selection committee puts its collective head together, it will presumably consider a team's total body of work as well as the competition it faced. If so, both factors would seemingly be in favor of the Huskers, especially if they can put together a good showing this week in the Big 12 Tournament.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
BASEBALL: Baylor coach gives NU nod over Texas A&M
In short, Smith said he gives No. 5-ranked Nebraska the nod this weekend based on home-field advantage and pitching experience. The No. 6 Aggies are scheduled to start freshman Brooks Raley on Friday, freshman Barret Loux on Saturday and sophomore Clayton Ehlert Sunday. The Huskers counter with senior starters Johnny Dorn and Thad Weber, followed by a junior in Sunday starter Aaron Pribanic.
Nebraska is 26-2-1 this season when playing at Haymarket Park in Lincoln.
"A&M is very good offensively, but I think it will be a real test for the two freshman starters on the mound to go to Lincoln in a series of this magnitude," Smith said Thursday during the Big 12 coaches' teleconference. "That will be a challenge for them. I think Nebraska is extremely tough, mentally -- they compete really well -- and they've got two seniors on the mound and they're playing at home.
"When I was asked that question before, that's kind of how I worked it out. I would give the advantage to Nebraska."
A&M swept Smith’s Baylor squad during the regular season, losing to the Aggies 2-1 at College Station, Texas, before falling 11-1 and 13-12 in 11 innings the next two days in Waco, Texas, during the mid-April series. The Bears lost two of three at home to Nebraska the following weekend as the Huskers swept a doubleheader 6-4 in 10 innings and 14-1 in seven innings on April 26 before the Bears claimed the series finale 8-3.