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Thursday, October 2, 2014

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What to watch for: Michigan baseball against Nebraska

By Ben Fidelman, Daily Sports Writer
Published April 25, 2014

The table is set for a weekend with major postseason implications for Michigan baseball. Third-place Nebraska visits Ann Arbor on Friday night to begin a three-game series at Ray Fisher Stadium. The Cornhuskers come in as favorites over the fourth-place Wolverines, and with just three weekends remaining before the regular-season conference schedule ends, these matchups are more important than ever.

The Daily breaks down the matchup:

Probable pitchers

Nebraska sends right-hander Christian DeLeon to the mound Friday night. The senior ace carries a 4-2 record along with a 2.52 earned-run average and 37 strikeouts, among the league leaders in those categories. Sophomore left-hander Evan Hill will counter for the Wolverines and can bring Michigan one win closer to the Cornhuskers in the conference standings. The southpaw has a 2-4 record but has been the team’s best starter for much of the season, carrying a 3.49 ERA.

Saturday, Nebraska throws right-hander Chance Sinclair (5-1, 1.85 ERA) against the Wolverines’ junior left-hander Trent Szkutnik (0-5, 3.88). On Sunday, the Cornhuskers send left-hander Aaron Bummer (4-2, 4.59 ERA) to face Michigan fifth-year senior left-hander Logan McAnallen (2-3, 3.09 ERA).

Offensive breakdown

With eight players batting above .300, Nebraska leads the Big Ten with a .302 team average. Many of the hitters are around that magic mark, but two rise above the rest: infielders Ben Miller and Blake Headley at .351 and .344, respectively. What the team has in batting average, it lacks in speed. The Cornhuskers rank eighth in the conference in stolen bases with 31 and are led by outfielder Ryan Boldt with six.

In such, Michigan might be the polar opposite. It leads the Big Ten with 60 stolen bases and often uses small ball as its main offense. The team is led by junior outfielder Jackson Glines, who holds a .347 batting average with 27 RBI and 15 doubles. He will have support from sophomore shortstop Travis Maezes and freshman designated hitter Carmen Benedetti, who both exercised their hot bats in last weekend’s series against Illinois.