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The Erstad resume, where the bar is, and who do we have coming back?


All Big 10
10 Year Member
Most of this was going to be posted late morning yesterday when I got a text something was happening with Husker baseball. Never did I think Erstad stepping down would happen, but I have said on here before, he was more likely to resign than be fired by Bill Moos. And that's exactly what we got. I'll take a quick look at where Erstad was (compare him to two B1G coaches that were offered or received big boy jobs, and take a look at who we have.

The last 4 years have been a pretty great run for a B1G baseball team. 3 regional appearances, a conference regular season title, a conference runner-up, another conference runner-up, a third place finish, and a conference tournament runner-up. They had the clunker in 2018 where every pitcher was hurt, which after watching this season, a lot of things added up to him just not wanting to put up with the negativity. Getting rid of twitter I always was curious where that was gonna go as a college coach recruiting kids that love social media (baseball is much different than football, however).

Indiana is the program everyone always says "why can't we be them", and they just lost their coach after last year to an SEC school. Coach Lemonis was at Indiana for 4 years, his conference finishes were 6th, 3rd, 6th, 5th. Significantly worse than Erstad going 2nd, 1st, 8th, 3rd the past four years. But as we've seen on this forum, it's all about the postseason, so let's take a look there. Coach Lemonis made the field of 64 three times in four years at Indiana (matching Erstad's 4 year run). He was 5-8 in the B1G tournament (never winning more than they lost) and he was 4-6 in regionals. Erstad was 1-6 and 4-6 the last four years, but 2-8 and 12-13 over his career. Both were sub .500 postseason coaches. However, that didn't matter to Mississippi State, who took Coach Lemonis and he has them in a super regional first year down there.

Michigan has the coach I will be keeping an eye on, as I really like the type of team he is building. Speedy on the basepaths and can hit. He turned down Stanford a couple years ago, a program far superior to Nebraska.

Let's take a look at Bakich prior to turning down Stanford. He finished 5th in 2016, and 2nd in 2017. But it's not about regular season, what did he do postseason to get Stanford so interested? In 2017 (the year Stanford wanted him), he went 0-2 in the B1G and 0-2 in the regionals. But maybe it was the year before that got Stanford interested? In 2016, Michigan went 1-2 in the B1G tournament, and failed to make the NCAA tournament.

We also had a resident expert start a thread in 2015 about how "Iowa has hired a real baseball coach". I won't go too deep into that, because Heller is an unreal coach, but Heller the last four years has finished 8th, 4th, 6th, and 8th. and went 1-2 in their only regional appearance.

All those are great coaches, but the picture i'm trying to paint is we had it really good with Erstad. There are two things that really bugged people, going to a tournament and not winning a game, and not recruiting locally as well. Hoping that our new coach can remedy that. But the bar is pretty high at this point. 1st or 2nd in conference or the tournament 2 out of 3 years, making the regional 2 out of the 3 years (past 6 years). That's a great baseline. I honestly think it would be foolish to expect that from another coach, but i'm hoping we have an unreal hire and he does even better somehow.

What to improve on?
-Local Recruiting - I think we can all agree that the local recruiting needs to be better. In 2018 Erstad killed it with local guys, but 2019 and 2020 (in the pinned thread) once again shows we are starting to slide there. While Erstad still recruited the Millards, Elkhorns well, schools like Lincoln Southwest, Norris, they aren't sending their best to us. Let's see if that changes with the new staff, which is why I think a Bolt or Seely is a good coaching candidate, and someone familiar with the talent in Nebraska.

-Don't lose elite local kids- The B1G really struggles to allow us to recruit the upper tier guys. We can't tie up our scholarships like SEC and Big12 teams. But i'm sick of seeing guys like Max Anderson, Cole Stobbe, commit to southern schools because of the conference restrictions. I hate complaining about things I don't have a remedy for, but i'm hoping the new coach has ideas.

-Don't lose track of Nebraska kids at JUCOs- We have a ton of kids that go JUCO that we just lose track of. Michael Helman, Nolan Hoffman, are two kids from Lincoln that would have walked on, but ended up going to Hutch. They still would have came to Nebraska after their first year there, but we didn't go after them. They ended up at A&M. It just happened again with a catcher from Kearney heading to Hutch for his first year, and now signed with Texas A&M. We gotta stop that somehow.

- Development - While guys like Acker, Hagge, Matt Waldron, Nate Fisher, all showed improvement, there's just as many you can point to that struggled once they were in our system for a while. How do we get it so guys like Schwellenbach, Chick, Palensky, Gomes, Schanaman, all have better years than their freshmen campaign?

What do we have coming back next year?
While Erstad struggled recruiting locally, he swung a big stick nationally pulling in guys like Jesse Wilkening, Scott Schreiber, Ryan Boldt, Spencer Schwellenbach, etc. Those are the guys we need to still recruit. But let's take a look at what is coming back (assuming no one transfers out).

- Outfield -
RF Aaron Palensky, our leading hitter comes back after hitting .320 and leading our team in HRs.
CF Joe Acker/Jaxon Hallmark this is the one I think is up in the air, can one of these guys solidify their spot?
LF Mojo Hagge if i'm the new coach, bat your senior leadoff who had a .390 OBP. You also have have Hallmark if need be.
Other returners: Mike Addante, Carter Cross, Ben Klenke, Blake Petersen, Kennett Sorenson, Keegan Watson
Recruits: Leighton Banjoff and Hunter Cerveny

Outfield summary - I think the new coach will be surprised by how small we are in the outfield, but this could be one of the spots where we have the most options. I'm not sure if guys that didn't play much stick around, and I don't even know if the recruits are OFs. But we have something to work with out there.

- Infield -
1B Colby Gomes/Luke Roskam/Ty Roseberry/Luke Boynton we return the first two, and bring in the high school HR leader from 2019 (if he still comes with Erstad gone). Gomes is more of a pitcher in my eyes, struggled in high school hitting and struggled his first year at college. Roskam could benefit from a coaching change with his hitting. And Boynton could add some pop to our lineup.
2B Chick/Hallmark/Gillin Will be interesting to see what we do here, I really don't know
SS Schwellenbach Unsure if we keep Schwellenbach at SS or move him to 3B. But hoping he doesn't transfer
3B Unsure here as well
C Hellstrom/Roskam/Dolney I like Hellstrom here, but Roskam is here again as well, and we bring in Dolney

-Starting Pitching -
RHP Robbie Palkert - I think this is the starter for Friday nights next year
LHP Kyle Perry - He is a high ceiling guy, consistency will be what holds him back.
LHP Connor Curry - Will he recover from injury?
LHP Caleb Feekin - Could be our best lefty, sat out this year with an injury from high school, but he is a viable option
LHP Tyler Martin - Spot duty this year, but may be able to move to starting role
LHP Garrett Stroh - 3rd team all B!G that sat out this year due to transfer
RHP Paul Tillotson - Will he recover from injury?
RHP Braxton Bragg - high school pitcher that was pretty elite down in KC
RHP Quinn Mason - high school pitcher that didn't pitch much this spring
LHP Ethan Bradford - high school pitcher of the year in Kansas
LHP Sayer Diederich - Elite arm out of Nebraska

-Relief Pitching -
RHP Colby Gomes - I think we need to keep him as closer, but could move to starter
RHP Shay Shanaman - Our setup man last year, he also deserves a chance in the field. Could play 2B.
RHP Trey Kissack - Sat out this year with the transfer rule. Not even sure if he is a reliever or starter.
RHP Chad Luensmann - Really struggled this year but we will see if he comes back, someone may take a chance on him
RHP Max Schreiber - Not much to say
RHP Spencer Schwellenbach - an elite arm, he will be a stud if he ever gets to do it
RHP Kyle Wisch - high school pitcher that sat out with arm trouble this year

LF Mojo Hagge .280
3B Spencer Schwellenbach .275
RF Aaron Palensky .320
1B Luke Boynton (high school HR leader)
SS Cam Chick .316 (in conference)
C Gunner Hellstrom .289
CF Joe Acker .260
2B Jaxon Hallmark .234
DH Someone hitting good

Not a bad batting lineup to work with if you ask me coming back.

I'm not sure who may be a starter or reliver