MINNEAPOLIS — The extra work Nebraska's hitters got in preparing for Michigan's starter paid off during an 11-2 win Wednesday afternoon.
The Huskers (26-28) managed just two hits and struck out six times against Wolverine right-hander James Bourque during his relief appearance of 323 innings in last week's series opener in Lincoln.
But that first time, sophomore Austin Darby said he and his teammates weren't patient enough, swinging too often at breaking balls in the dirt or off the plate. They faced Bourque again Wednesday at the Big Ten tournament, this time from the start of the game, though the results were much different.
“I think we did a good job of laying off the low ball and laying off the breaking ball that bounced in the dirt,” Darby said. “Then we got him up in the zone and we hit him pretty well.”
Bourque lasted 413 innings for Michigan (29-26), allowing six runs, surrendering six hits and walking four batters.
Warm dugouts offer break from the cold
Junior Michael Pritchard spent a little more time than usual sitting on the dugout bench while his teammates were at the plate.
He's typically on the top step of the dugout all game long.
But on a cloudy and windy Wednesday at Target Field, the temperature was dipping into the low 50s.
And the benches in the dugout were heated. Yes, heated. Pritchard was surprised.
“It's pretty sweet,” Pritchard said. “This park's awesome.”
The blankets and gloves were out in the stands, too. A couple of hundred fans, scattered around the lower level of the 39,000-seat stadium, tried their best to stay warm.
The ballpark did have hanging heaters in its concourses, but those were turned on for just a few innings Wednesday.
DeLeon set to pitch Friday
Junior Christian DeLeon is on track to pitch for Nebraska on Friday after throwing his regular side session in the bullpen during Wednesday's win.
DeLeon was not available last weekend because of elbow soreness. He was Nebraska's No. 1 pitcher in the starting rotation before that, recording a 3.51 ERA in 13 outings. His 8423 innings are nearly twice as many as any teammate.
But NU coach Darin Erstad said he'll be careful with DeLeon. DeLeon's still “day-to-day” at this point, Erstad said.
“It's more on the positive side than the negative side of where he's at,” Erstad said.
Huskers did well against OSU pitcher
Nebraska will match up against a pitcher Thursday whom it had some success against early in the season.
Ohio State right-hander Brad Goldberg, set to start the 3:35 p.m. game, gave up seven hits and four runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Huskers on April 13. The Buckeyes (34-21) won, though, going on to take two of three in the weekend series at Haymarket Park.
OSU eliminated NU from the Big Ten tournament last season.
— Jon Nyatawa