Published Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 12:01 am / Updated at 7:29 pm
BASEBALL
Huskers are confident they can bounce back

LINCOLN — After all those exhausting offseason drills, and the rededication to self-improvement, and the hopeful clubhouse pep talks, Nebraska's baseball team ended its opening weekend without a win. Again.

Just last year the Huskers spent the winter months rigorously remaking their bodies and buying into a new coaching staff's culture — only to see absolutely none of it pay off in the season's first series as they were swept by Gonzaga.

It's a similar story in 2013. This veteran squad, bursting with optimism, opened the season with a weekend full of missed opportunities and uncharacteristic mistakes. Nebraska is 0-4, the most heartbreaking of those losses coming Sunday when NU blew a ninth-inning lead at USC. And, oh yeah, a tough three-game series against Texas is set to start Friday.

Yet there was Husker coach Darin Erstad before practice at the Hawks Center on Tuesday, upbeat and energized, fully confident that his players would have no trouble rebounding. He believes that they know how to handle this sort of thing.

“There's a lot of fight in these guys. They're not going to roll over,” Erstad said. “But at the same time, we're learning the lesson the hard way.”

That on-field lesson is simply a manifestation of something the NU coaches have been preaching all offseason: There's immense precision required for Nebraska to beat the nation's best teams.

Erstad says that means executing a rundown correctly, or completing a pitch out effectively, or laying down a bunt when asked, or getting runners home when given the chance (the Huskers hit .195 and struck out 18 times with runners in scoring position last weekend). Things like building on a lead late in the game to help your bullpen hold it.

“If we play good baseball and do what we can, we can be very competitive,” Erstad said.

And the Huskers believe they're close to doing that consistently, which is why no one's concerned about a possible early-season meltdown.

BIG RED TODAY ON FACEBOOK
Join the conversation on the Big Red Today Facebook page.

The weekend was “frustrating” and completely bouncing back is never as easy as it sounds, said senior Rich Sanguinetti. But there's plenty of time to improve, and that's Nebraska's motivation going forward. NU has 52 games left.

“You've got to look at the big scheme of things,” Sanguinetti said.

Senior Kash Kalkowski said the fact that the Huskers have experienced something like this before helps, too. They started 0-3 last year, then won four straight and 14 of their next 17.

“We know how to get our morale up,” Kalkowski said. “We know what it takes. We'll get there.”

Erstad announced Nebraska's plans for its weekend rotation at Texas: junior right-hander Brandon Pierce (0-1, 22.50 ERA) on Friday, junior right-hander Christian DeLeon (0-0, 1.93) on Saturday and senior right-hander Ryan Hander (0-0, 5.06) on Sunday. Sophomore Kyle Kubat (arm soreness) will remained sidelined for another week, Erstad said.

Contact the writer:

402-473-9585, jon.nyatawa@owh.com, twitter.com/JonNyatawa

Contact the writer: Jon Nyatawa

jon.nyatawa@owh.com    |   402-473-9585    |  

Jon Nyatawa has covered local sports, primarily Nebraska football and baseball, for The Omaha World-Herald since 2008.

PHOTO GALLERY AND VIDEO »

 

< >
SPOTLIGHT »
2013 college football preview
View our 2013 college football preview, a 26-page, three-part section filled with coverage of the Huskers, Big Ten conference and more.
Big Red Bowl Retrospective
See complete historical results, game recaps and photo coverage from the Nebraska Cornhuskers college football bowl game appearances, from the 1941 Rose Bowl up to today.
Big Ten football recruits
The World-Herald's Big Ten recruiting database contains every football recruit that signed with a Big Ten school from 2002 to 2011, complete with color-coded interactive map representations, player information, high-concentrations recruiting clusters and more.
Devaney Center timeline
Check out a World-Herald timeline to see the evolution of memorable moments at the Devaney Center, complete with photos, videos, memorable quotes and more.
Follow OWHbigred on Twitter
Looking for the latest Husker sports news from The Omaha World-Herald and Omaha.com? Follow us on Twitter!
Husker scholarship distribution chart
Want to see how many scholarships NU has invested at each position? Wondering how the Huskers have appropriated their offers by class? Check out our handy chart to look further into how Bo Pelini has built his team.
Husker Signing Day 2013
The World-Herald's top-notch coverage of the Nebraska football's class of 2013, complete with videos, photos, articles, live recruit interviews, interactive components and more.
Husker turnovers: A slippery slope
Bo Pelini has coached 68 games at Nebraska. When NUís turnover margin is positive or even, the Huskers are 35-2. When they lose the turnover battle, theyíre 13-18. Why hasnít Nebraska joined the nationís elite? More than anything, itís turnovers.
Interactive: Bo Pelini's contract
View an interactive PDF of Pelini's revised contract signed by the NU football coach, complete with brief summaries of the legalese and insight into the document's finer points.
Interactive: Darin Erstad's contract (2012)
View an interactive PDF of NU baseball coach Darin Erstad's contract released in August 2012, complete with brief summaries of the legalese and insight into the document's finer points.
Interactive: Tim Miles' contract
View an interactive PDF of Tim Miles' contract signed by the Nebraska men's basketball coach on May 4, 2012, complete with brief legal explanations, comparisons to other Big Ten coaches and more.
Omaha.com's Big Ten coverage
Delivering the best news coverage and analysis of the Big Ten Conference, from Omaha.com and other top news outlets from around country.
Husker Recruiting: Changes shrink NU's sphere of influence
For decades, the Great Plains represented fertile recruiting ground for Tom Osborne's football program. Restoring that lost tradition won't be easy.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Tokyo Sushi
$5 for $10 or $10 for $20 toward All-You-Can-Eat Sushi Purchase
Buy Now
BRT ON TWITTER »
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT »
< >