Week of 3/4/02 (2-2)
Scores Tues.- Huskers 23
Fri.- Huskers 15
Sat.- Huskers 1Baylor 2
Sun.- Huskers 6
Weekend Review: A pitchers duel was brewing between NU's Jamie Rodrigue and BU's Jason White. Each pitcher was as effective as they could have hoped for, keeping the opposition in check and making big pitches when they were needed most. Rodrigue (2-0, 1.35ERA) made some pitches to get out of trouble on several occasions, but none were bigger than White's showdown with Justin Seely. With the bases full of Huskers and no outs, Seely had a chance to put the Bears in a deep hole, and give Rodrigue more breathing room to continue to mow down BU hitters. White made a perfect pitch off the plate inducing Seely into a ground ball double play. Coach Van Horn noted that Seely should have either taken the pitch or tried to go with it and gone to left field. It turned out to be one of the two plays of the game. NU came out of the inning with only 1 run after having a chance to put together a big inning. It gave Baylor a little lift and no doubt gave NU and Coach Van Horn a tough one to swallow.
The other big play of the game on Saturday was Jeff Leise's decision to go aggressively after a fly ball in the gap. You really cannot fault him for playing the game the way it is supposed to be played, all out. After a diving effort, Leise couldn't come up with the ball, giving BU a runner in scoring position. That runner eventually scored to give BU the 2-1 lead and it turned out to be the winning run.
Game 1 of the series was just another winning outing on Shane Komine's already impressive resume. Komine (3-0, 1.55ERA) didn't have his best stuff, but even when he isn't on top of his game, he is still able to win games against any opponent. Years of experience in big games, Komine knows that he needs to win Game 1 of every series if possible. He doesn't have to strike out double-digit batters each game to get wins. He can use his experience to make smart pitches and get outs. NU gave him plenty of runs to work with, jumping on BU in the middle innings to put the game out of reach. Game 3 was a far cry from Game 1 that is for sure.
Once again, NU will be searching for a #3 starter who wants to take the ball and give the huskers a chance to win every weekend. I still think Burch would be more effective coming out of the bullpen. He has been very effective out of the pen and very shaky when given the starting nod. He could come out a little too pumped up and it shows in his control. If you can't find the zone, you have to let up a little to get the ball over and batters start teeing off as we have seen. If you don't have command and can't throw more than 1 pitch over for a strike, you won't be pitching too long for Coach Van Horn and Coach Childress. I am not sure what will happen next Sunday for game 3 versus Texas A&M.
Phil Shirek could get the ball again to show what he can do. I thought possibly Dustin Timm would get another crack at starting, but a poor showing against 3 batters this weekend probably didn't help. Mike Sillman is a possibility as well. We will just have to wait and see I guess. The bats showed signs of coming around against UNK and Game 1 down at Waco, but were then silenced by two very good pitchers in White and Theodorakos. BU's starting rotation and bullpen is as tough as NU will face all season long. I wouldn't look too much into the lack of offensive output this weekend, NU will score runs this season. A lot of the younger hitters got valuable at-bats this week. Daniel Bruce (.316) and Drew Anderson (.325) swung the bats well this week and will be needed all season long. Injuries to utility players Adam Riddle and Marcellus Dawson, will give others a chance to step up and perform.
Good to see this team battle back on Sunday. They could have packed it in and had their minds on the plane ride home, but that didn't happen again. It is a testament to the players and the coaching staff keeping them focused on chipping away at leads with a chance to win a game late. The huskers still are looking for that timely hit with runners in scoring position. They continued to leave a good number of runners on base again this week. NU left 39 runners on base in the 4 games this week, averaging nearly 10 per game. Getting runners on base hasn't been the problem, driving them in has been, but it is still early in the season. A few breaks here and there and big things can happen, and this team can score a lot of runs as the conference games heat up. Weekend/Season Notes: I am sure the team and coaches cannot wait until they come home to Hawks Field at Haymarket Park next weekend to face Texas A&M. The home cooking should be nice after playing 12 of their first 13 games away from home. Hopefully the weather can hold and a big time crowd will give the team that extra lift. I am sure Komine cannot wait to toe the rubber in his first ever start in the new stadium. It should be an awesome atmosphere for baseball against a very good Texas A&M team.
NU has a good compliment of left and right-handed hitters to plug into the lineup when needed. That can never be overlooked and should give NU an edge in match-ups against some very good pitchers in the Big 12 Conference. Seely, Anderson, Bruce, Blevins, Bonesio, Birmingham, Eymann can all be called on to start, DH, or pinch-hit in certain situations. This flexibility gives Van Horn many options. In my opinion, seeing Rodrigue come up with another great performance is the biggest thing to come out of this weekend. He has shown that the first few weeks weren't a fluke by any means. His experience like Komines', has proven to be extremely valuable to the entire NU staff. Coming into the season some thought NU would need to not only find a quality #3 starter, but also a #2 start as well. Rodrigue has given NU more than just quality starts, he has been just as effective as any starter in the Big 12 to this point.
We will learn a lot more about this team next weekend against A&M. Will that #3 starter be found to give NU a chance to win? Will the clutch hits come with men in scoring position? Will the younger players continue to improve and provide depth the rest of the season? No one really knows the answers to these questions, but it sure will be fun finding them out. This league race is still wide open. Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma St., Baylor, and NU will beat each other up and once again it will come down to the team that can win the most games against the teams at the bottom of the league standings. There is still a whole lot of baseball to be played, so all you locals buy up those remaining general admission tickets and make Hawks Field at Haymarket Park the toughest stadium in the conference to play in.Husker Connection Player of the Week:
Drew Anderson Soph. OFThis Week's Stats:
BA: .500 (8 for 16)
SB: 1Husker Connection Pitcher of the Week:
Shane Komine Sr. R/RThis Week's Stats:
OPP/BA: .200Upcoming Week's Schedule:
Fri. 3/15 Texas A&M-HOME
Sat. 3/16 Texas A&M-HOME
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