MINNEAPOLIS — Indiana coach Tracy Smith said he will manage Sunday's Big Ten tournament game with an NCAA regional in mind.
The Hoosiers presumably are in the NCAA tournament, a likely regional host and perhaps a national seed. And Smith won't lose sight of that Sunday.
That's one of the reasons why weekend starter Kyle Hart was pulled after five innings and 82 pitches in Saturday's 7-6 11-inning loss to Nebraska.
“Mark my words: We want to win this championship,” Smith said. “We came up here to win, but I think at the same time, we need to be smart about our pitching. … We feel like we've got a lot of season left to play.”
The Hoosiers will start freshman lefty Will Coursen-Carr against Nebraska's Kyle Kubat, who'll be pitching on three days rest.
Husker coach Darin Erstad said senior Dylan Vogt, senior Ryan Hander and junior Christian DeLeon are the only Nebraska pitchers who wouldn't be available Sunday.
Playing two nothing new
Perhaps the long winter is paying off for the Huskers. Senior Kash Kalkowski is clinging to that theory at least.
He said he and his teammates had no problem playing a doubleheader Saturday — the team's eighth twin bill of the season.
After beating Ohio State and Indiana, the Huskers improved to 10-6 in doubleheaders this year, sweeping four of them.
Kalkowski said adrenaline played a role in the second game, a thriller that ended on Tanner Lubach's walk-off homer in the 11th. But mostly, Nebraska was prepared.
“We're kind of used to it,” he said. “The weather's been kind of bad this year, so we just played (a lot of) doubleheaders.”
Husker adjustments pay off
After facing Nebraska on Thursday, Ohio State pitcher Brad Goldberg said the Huskers' lineup made the most in-game adjustments of any group in the Big Ten.
That makes the second trip through the order rather difficult. Junior right-hander Jaron Long can attest.
He cruised through the first three innings Saturday, facing the minimum without much resistance. But he ran into trouble in the fourth, when NU scored three times on four hits to take control en route to a 5-0 win.
OSU coach Greg Beals credited Nebraska for taking advantage, but his pitchers may have gotten too comfortable with what was working, he said.
“You've got to pitch to both sides of the plate to keep them off balance a little bit,” Beals said. “Even with high-quality stuff, if you continue to feed them the same stuff, they'll be on it.”
— Jon Nyatawa