FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
Lincoln – The Nebraska baseball team released its 2012 schedule on Friday, as the Huskers will play 31 home games at Hawks Field and will have 13 contests against 2011 NCAA Tournament teams, including a four-game home stand against 2011 College World Series qualifier California. The 56-game schedule starts with 10 games on the road before the Huskers host their home opener against former Big 12 foe Kansas State on Tuesday, March 6. The Huskers will play eight Big Ten Conference series, with the only conference teams not on the schedule including Penn State and Michigan State, as well as Wisconsin, which doesn’t have a baseball program.
Darin Erstad will start his first season as NU’s head coach on Friday, Feb. 17, when the Huskers open a three-game series with Gonzaga in Peoria, Ariz. The Zags are led by lefty Marco Gonzales, who was named a freshman All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers and Collegiate Baseball in 2010 after posting an 11-2 record with four complete games and a 2.57 ERA. The Huskers head to Corpus Christi, Texas, the following weekend to play four games in three days with two games against Utah, as well as one each against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and UNLV.
Nebraska will open the month of March at the Dairy Queen Classic in Minneapolis, Minn., with games against West Virginia, New Mexico and Minnesota. It will be the Huskers’ first trip to the tournament since 2006, when they swept Notre Dame, Arizona and Minnesota. Even though the Huskers and Gophers are now both in the Big Ten Conference, NU’s meeting with Minnesota on Sunday, March 4, will be a non-conference game.
The Huskers then return home for a 17-game home stand that starts and ends with games against Kansas State. Following the game with the Wildcats on March 6, the Huskers will host Nebraska-Kearney the following afternoon in preparation for Cal’s visit to Hawks Field. The Huskers and Bears will open their four-game series on Friday, March 9, with first-pitch set for 1:35 p.m. It will mark the second straight year that the Huskers have hosted a non-conference series against a team that played in the College World Series the previous season, after NU hosted 2010 CWS qualifier UCLA during the 2011 campaign.
Following the Cal series, the Huskers will host South Dakota State (March 13), Louisiana Tech (March 16-18) and Northern Colorado (March 20-21) before Illinois comes to Lincoln for NU’s first Big Ten Conference series. The Fighting Illini will enter Lincoln as the league’s defending conference tournament champion after defeating Michigan State last season. Since the tournament started in 1981, Illinois has won four titles, with last season’s win its first since 2000. Overall, Minnesota holds the most tournament titles with nine, while Michigan is in a close second with eight.
After completing their 17-game home stand with Kansas State on Tuesday, March 27, the Huskers head to Evanston, Ill., for their first Big Ten road series when they visit Northwestern for a three-game series that starts on Friday, March 30. The Wildcats, who were 10-13 in conference play last season, hold a 4-2 advantage in the all-time series with the Huskers.
The month of April starts with the final game of the Northwestern series and is followed by a mid-week road trip to Manhattan for a final meeting with KSU on Tuesday, April 3. The Husker host Iowa (April 6-8) the following weekend before playing the first of three games against Creighton on Tuesday, April 10, at Hawks Field. The final two games will be at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha on Tuesday, April 24, and Tuesday, May 8.
April also includes a conference road series at Ohio State (April 13-15) and a home series with Purdue (April 20-22), while the month is concluded with a three-game slate with Cal State Bakersfield at Hawks Field starting on Friday, April 27. It will be the Roadrunners’ second trip to Lincoln in four years after they took 2-out-of-3 games from the Huskers during the 2009 campaign.
Along with non-conference games with Missouri Valley programs Creighton and Wichita State in May, the Huskers finish out the conference season with trips to Indiana and Michigan, as well as a home stand with Minnesota. Michigan holds the most overall Big Ten championships in conference history, as the Wolverines have won a combined 38 regular-season and tournament titles dating back to 1899, but are coming off a season that saw them finish last in the league with a 7-16 record.
The 2011 postseason will open on Wednesday, May 23, when NU will look to be one of the league’s six teams who advance to the Big Ten Tournament. The five-day tournament is held at Huntington Park in Columbus, Ohio, which is the home park of the Cleveland Indians’ Triple-A organization, the Columbus Clippers.