Nebraska will play for a Big Ten tournament title and an NCAA Regional berth Sunday after two impressive wins against the conference’s top two teams.
No, seriously. NU’s season is still alive.
Nebraska and IU will play again at 12:05 p.m. for the tourney championship (winner gets the NCAA auto-bid).
Some comments from the Huskers are below…
On sticking with starter Dylan Vogt despite some hard hits: “If they’re hitting it on the ground, whether it’s hard or not, that gives us a fighting chance. I’ll put that offense that they have over there against anybody in the country. My goodness. They can just absolutely mash the baseball.”
On catcher Tanner Lubach’s defensive effort in the tournament: “The one thing that I’m very proud of him is his defense behind the plate. He’s played every game and he’s blocking everything. And he’s not letting his offense affect his defense. That’s been very important for us.”
On the difference in the NU players’ mentality: “They’ve been through it. The thing I noticed, they’re helping each other. If they don’t get it done, the next guy’s saying, ‘I gotcha.’ Or the next guy’s saying, ‘Hey, pick me up.’ They’re getting it. You’re not always going to do it. You’re a kid. You’re going to screw up. The next guy can pick you up. That’s what teammates do. They’re pulling for each other. I’m not saying they’re going to get it done all the time, but they’re understanding that you’re not in this alone. You have other guys that know what it feels like to screw up and be tense. You just help each other.”
On the quality of play in the Big Ten: “There’s a lot of talent out there. I’ll put that team (Indiana) that we played up against any team in the country. They’re that good. … Ohio State, they can pitch. … Illinois, they’ve just got athletes all over the place. … We’re just a bunch of rag-tag scrappers that find a way to get it done. … Just look at the arms Minnesota has. That’s pretty impressive. … We’ve got a team (Michigan State) that didn’t even make the (conference) tournament that’s in the top 40 RPI. … It’s headed in the right direction. You don’t do that without good players. That’s what I’m seeing this year in this league and it’s only going to get better.
On staying resilient in a doubleheader: “It was a long day. There was a point in the second game there where I almost completely forgot that we played a game before that. It just came down to grinding it out.”
On his approach Saturday: “I found out when I arrived at the ballpark today that if I wasn’t used in the first game (then) the second game there was a possibility that I could start. I just took it like any other outing. I played catch in the outfield for a little but then I just went to the bullpen and did what I usually do coming out of the pen.”
On the two home runs he surrendered: “The pitch I threw to (Kyle) Schwarber, it was just a fastball outside. It was just a couple inches off the plate. The kid hit it out of the park. Was I upset? Yeah. But I wasn’t going to let it affect me because it was still early in the game and we were still in it. And the other one, it was just a fastball in. He turned on it.”
Can you sum up the last 48 hours? His response: “Awesome. We’re here to battle and be ready for tomorrow.”
On refocusing Sunday, knowing what’s at stake: “We’ve got to approach just like every other game in the tournament. We’ve got to go out there and play our game, and not worry about the big situation or anything like that.”