Baseball, Air Force vs. Nebraska, 3.19

Nebraska shortstop Spencer Schwellenbach throws to first to turn a double play after forcing out Air Force baserunner Colby Brown in the second inning on March 19 at Haymarket Park.

The Husker underclassmen have stepped up to start the year as Nebraska baseball has raced to a 3-0 start to the Big Ten season.

Sunday’s 6-2 win marked a sweep of Michigan State and Husker coach Darin Erstad made it clear that his underclassmen, especially the freshmen, have been a main reason NU has rebounded from a four-game sweep at the hands of No. 4 Oregon State.

“That’s why you talk from Day 1 that it doesn’t matter if you’re a freshman or a senior,” Erstad said after Sunday’s win. “We need everybody and everybody has to get prepared. It’s an open competition and you don’t have a crystal ball. You don’t know when the young guys are going to go cold, or the old guys are going to go cold.”

Right now, the youngins are scorching hot.

Nebraska sophomores and freshmen collected 66 percent of the at bats -- 65 of the 98 to be exact -- and drove in nine of the 13 Husker runs against the Spartans over the three-game series. 

Nebraska leans on its young bats, that’s for sure.

Husker sophomore Aaron Palensky leads the team in at bats (71), total bases (32), hits (23) and is tied for the lead in RBIs (14).

Freshman Spencer Schwellenbach leads NU in batting average (.328) and on-base percentage (.446) among players with over 45 at bats.

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As the 11-7 Huskers turn their attention to in-state foe Creighton, the rivalry might take a little bit of a backseat.

Heck, some of the main NU contributors haven’t had a taste of the rivalry.

“Being a freshman, you get told about Creighton and the in-state rivalry,” Husker infielder Cam Chick said Sunday. “We don’t try to put a lot of pressure on one game, we’ll just move forward taking it one game at a time. We’re going to talk about it into this week then we’ll get after it.”

Nebraska has reeled off eight wins in its last 10 games as it rolls into TD Ameritrade Park Tuesday at 6:35 p.m. to take on the Bluejays, who swept last year’s three-game season series.

All things considered, Erstad is not worried about anything except getting his team on the field.

He said he is looking forward to just “playing games.”

“Getting in that consistent roll of playing games, that’s what the baseball season is made for. So hopefully we can get in a good rhythm here, get some good weather and start rolling out some games and let these boys have some fun.”


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