Going deep "Thoughts"

Week three gone and the Huskers are back on track. Blanking Fresno, Nebraska seems to be back in the rhythm, but are they? Scott takes a look back at the week that was in this week's take on your Nebraska baseball.

Fresno State Series


Fri.- Huskers 7

Fresno St. 1

Sat.- Huskers 9

Fresno St. 0

Sun.- Huskers 10

Fresno St. 6


Weekend Review: What can you say about Shane Komine(2-0, .82ERA, 28K's and 7 hits in 22 inn.) that hasn't already been printed all over the USA? He is one of the top 5 pitchers in the nation bar none, and quite possibly the most dominate right hander in the nation. He is in the process of putting records out there, that might never be equaled in NU history and Big 12 Conference history. The scary thing for opponents is that he is just getting 'warmed' up. I would say after his three dominating outings so far this season, he is in mid-season form and then some.

With 7 more wins this season, Komine would become just the 14th pitcher in NCAA Division 1 history with 40 career victories and 400 strikeouts in a career. After off-season shoulder surgery, it appears that Komine is throwing as well as he has ever thrown. He has 2 'out' pitches that he can throw at any time and in any count for strikes, a hard fastball with good late movement and a nasty curve ball. The arsenal he unleashes on right-handed hitters is deadly. I would imagine some have walked into the dugout after getting "K'd" and thought to themselves, "this isn't fair." There are two things I really like about Komine. Nothing rattles him, he keeps that stern poker face at all times on the mound. This is real refreshing to the other 8 guys in the field. The pitcher is in charge out there at all times. A good leader on the hill never gets to high or too low, showing his teammates he wants the ball in his hand with the game on the line. The other thing is how fast he works on the mound. He gets the ball from the catcher and is ready to toe the rubber and get back to work. The 'bulldog' mentality is what makes him a special pitcher.

A pitcher that works fast out there really keeps his fielders in the game. They don't get lackadaisical and keep focus much easier.

Jamie Rodrigue(2-0, 1.33ERA, .153OPP/BA) also threw a gem this weekend. He is showing that he is deserving of the early season #2 weekend starter. A complete game, 1 hitter will do that for you. He isn't going to match Komine's radar gun numbers, but he has been just as effective so far this season in his own right. Rodrigue uses off speed pitches to set up hitters and keep them off balance.

After a frustrating '01 season, Rodrigue has seen his freshman form return. What has made Rodrigue even more effective than he was in his freshman campaign is the experience he has gained on the mound. He seems to have really worked on his location in the off-season and I am sure that Pitching Coach Rob Childress has a lot to do with that. Keeping the ball down in the strike zone and staying away from the extra base hits is key for a pitcher.

A telling stat for Rodrigue on Saturday night is that 20 of the 27 outs he recorded were either strikeouts or batted balls kept in the infield. You will win a lot of games with a stat like that in your favor. True Freshman Phil Shirek had a tough outing in Game 3. A little more seasoning and big things are still expected from him this season. After the long outings by Komine and Rodrigue, it actually wasn't terrible to see the bullpen get some work in in Game 3. Jason Burch seems much more comfortable coming out of the bullpen.

He might get a little too amped up before his starts, and has time to clear his head out in the bullpen. Throwing 6 scoreless innings of relief is real big for Burch's confidence for conference play next weekend at Baylor.

The offensive numbers are starting to come around as well. NU is finding a way to put runs on the board. Leaving a large number of runners on base is never a good thing, but getting on the base in the first place is what is important in the long run. Hitting Coach Mike Anderson really has them disciplined at the plate.

It is just a matter of time before the offense 'breaks out' and does serious damage. The bottom of the order is key to any lineup. They must get on base and set the table for Leise, Morris, Hopper, etc. to drive them in. This team is fun to watch offensively. The pieces are there to be a very productive offensive unit. Keep in mind that the new Hawks Field (Haymarket Park) is said to be a hitter's ballpark also.

Weekend/Season Notes: Fresno State is a very solid team keep in mind. They have beaten nationally ranked Stanford and Long Beach St. this season so far. They also took a game from preseason top 25 team Washington. They also had played 14 games compared to NU's 6 coming into this series. Komine and Rodrigue 1-2 punch can really cause headaches for the opposition. A team will get real geared up to face Komine and his low 90's heater. On Saturday, they will then have to get in the mindset of sitting back and being patient at the plate. I really like the ‘change up' between Game 1 and Game 2 of a series.

Baseball is such a mental game, that any little bit of an advantage can be real big. Not only that, but having a right-hander go in Game 1 and come back with a lefthander in Game 2 can give NU an advantage. It causes the opposition to mix up their lineup to set up matchups and doesn't give the hitters that same comfort zone if they were in the lineup all weekend long. Again, it might not seem like a big deal, but it can make a difference.

Hopper is finding his stroke. As I stated in the last installment of Going Deep Thoughts, it will take him a little more time to find his timing. He is a power hitter with a bigger swing than a pure contact hitter. He is primed for a monster year driving in runs. Jeff Leise is looking like one of the best hitters in the Big12. He makes such good contact on the baseball, and has surprising power when he gets his pitch middle-in. He is a hardworking, blue-collar type player that seems to be stepping up into a leadership roll on this team.

Did you notice the ‘small ball' technique from Coach Van Horn early in the game in Game 1? Van Horn has total confidence in his pitching staff, especially when Komine is on the mound. He will play for a run or 2 early in games, laying down sacrifice bunts if needed to move the runners over into scoring position. Being a technically sound all-around ballplayer is what Van Horn demands. If a sacrifice is needed or a hit and run, each player in the lineup better be ready and able. I think it is a big reason that so many former Huskers during the Van Horn tenure are having major success at the next level. You need to be proficient in all areas and be a complete ballplayer to turn heads in the minor and major leagues.

Huskers still need to sure up the defense on the infield. Van Horn has been tinkering with the infield to try to come up with an effective mix of strong hitters and strong fielders. The depth is there which is good, each player is pretty versatile and can play more than one infield position. The season is still young and more practice time outdoors will be very beneficial.


Husker Connection Player of the Week:

Jeff Leise Jr. OF- Second straight Player of the Week award.

This Week's Stats:

BA: .615 (8 for 13)

Runs: 4

RBI: 5

HR: 1

SB: 1




Husker Connection Pitcher of the Week:

Jamie Rodrigue Jr. R/L

This Week's Stats:

IP: 9

Hits: 1

Runs: 0

BB: 2


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