Baseball Series Preview: Northwestern vs Nebraska
The Northwestern Wildcats (14-29, 4-11 B1G) welcome the Nebraska Cornhuskers (31-16, 6-9 B1G) to Rocky Miller Park for a three-game set on Friday as they look to build off their walk-off win Wednesday against the Chicago State Cougars.
The ‘Cats are 3-3 at home this year after playing 37 road games to start the season. They’ve won all their non-conference games in Evanston, but were swept in three games against the Ohio State Buckeyes last weekend.
Zach Jones has come on strong since the ‘Cats returned to the renovated Rocky Miller Park last Tuesday. He’s hit .435 in six home games, and delivered the pinch-hit walk-off single that beat the Cougars 5-4 in 10 innings on Wednesday. Jones and teammate Scott Heelan are tied for the Big Ten lead in doubles with 17.
Northwestern will likely send out Brandon Magallones on Friday, followed by Matt Portland and Reed Mason on Saturday and Sunday. Magallones has an unsightly 6.35 ERA, but remains the ace of the struggling Northwestern staff thanks to his durability and experience. His 210 career strikeouts rank 8th all-time in school history.
Nebraska’s pitching is a strength, having allowed three or fewer runs in 30 of their 47 games. The Cornhuskers will start Chance Sinclair, Kyle Kubat, and Derek Burkamper on the mound, all of whom have lower ERAs than Portland, the regular with the lowest ERA for the ‘Cats.
If there’s one sign of encouragement for Northwestern, it’s Nebraska’s struggles on the road in conference play this season. They’re 0-6 against Big Ten opponents away from Lincoln, and they’ll come to Evanston trying to avoid dropping three straight conference series since 2011 when they were a member of the Big 12.
Friday’s game starts at 3 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday’s games are slated for 1 p.m. WNUR Sports will have all three, with Friday and Sunday’s broadcasts going out over the air at 89.3 FM. All three games are available at wnursports.com.