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Through injuries, attrition, Husker pitching staff has done its best to keep NU competing

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Iowa vs. Nebraska, 4.29

Left-hander Tyler Martin was dismissed from the Nebraska baseball team for a violation of team rules, Will Bolt said Thursday.

Another week closer to the end of the season, and another pitcher no longer throwing for the Nebraska baseball team.

The thinning of the Huskers' pitching staff through injury and attrition — the latest being the dismissal of left-hander Tyler Martin because of a violation of team rules — has left a struggling team short on arms.

The dismissal is another blow to a pitching staff that has been decimated by injuries and attrition this season. Kyle Perry and Jake Bunz, also left-handers have missed most of the season with injuries. Colby Gomes, expected to be NU's closer before the season, has pitched only 1⅓ innings thanks to foot and hand injuries.

Martin is the second NU pitcher to be dismissed from the team in just more than a month, after freshman Jaxon Jelkin was dismissed on April 8.

The Webb City, Missouri, native had a team-high 20 appearances for Nebraska this season, compiling a 4.32 ERA while turning into the Huskers' most reliable left-handed reliever.

Only three other healthy lefties have taken the mound for NU this season — Emmett Olson, Chandler Benson, and Jackson Brockett.

Despite all the losses, that pitching staff has been able to keep Nebraska in almost every game it has played. 

The Huskers rank fourth in the Big Ten and in the top third of teams nationally in ERA (4.77) and hits allowed per nine innings. NU leads the Big Ten in walks allowed per nine innings, ranking 75th nationally in that stat heading into a three-game series at Illinois this weekend.

"Coming into the season, that's how our team was built. It was built from the back of the bullpen to the front," NU coach Will Bolt said Thursday. "So we knew we had some depth there, so when you lose as many guys as we've lost, it is difficult to think you can be competitive. And we have been that because we have had some guys step up."

Young arms, most recently Brockett, have stepped up to fill innings. And Nebraska has gotten steady performances from veterans such as Shay Schanaman and Koty Frank.

"Just having that depth has allowed us to at least be competitive in games to where, typically when you lose that many high-leverage arms, it makes it awfully difficult to stay competitive at times," Bolt said.

Whether that allows Nebraska to pull a rabbit out of its hat late in the season and make a run for the Big Ten tournament remains to be seen. But the Huskers, thanks to their remaining arms, should at least have a shot.

"It's been really impressive," NU catcher Griffin Everitt said. "Some of the guys, we didn't expect to have as big a role, and they've stepped into those roles and done really well, and helped the team every way they can."

Matthews potentially available: Sophomore infielder Brice Matthews, who injured his knee in warmups prior to last Friday's game at Minnesota, could be available to pinch-hit this weekend, Bolt said.

Matthews suffered a non-contact knee injury, catching a cleat in Minnesota's turf infield and going down. While he isn't able to move well side-to-side, Matthews did take some swings in the batting cage during practice this week.

Pinch-hitting is likely as far as Matthews' role will go. Designated hitter is out of the question unless the Texas native is able to start moving better in the next couple of days, Bolt said.

"Depending on how he bounces back the next couple days, maybe a potential pinch-hit option for the weekend," Bolt said. "I think DH would be best-case scenario."

Matthews' injury came as he was swinging one of the hottest bats on the team. He went into the Minnesota series with an eight-game hitting streak during which he was 10-for-26 (.385) with four homers and 10 RBIs. That came on the heels of an 0-for-22 slump that Matthews broke with a home run at Indiana.

Everitt named Academic All-District: Everitt was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District 7 baseball team on Thursday morning. As a first-team all-district honoree, Everitt will now advance to the CoSIDA Academic All-America ballot.

The Lincoln Southwest graduate is the lone catcher on the District 7 team. He is tied for the team lead with seven home runs while leading Nebraska with 12 doubles and 37 RBIs.

He is majoring in sports media and communication and holds a 3.83 grade-point average.

Contact the writer at cbasnett@journalstar.com or 402-473-7436. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.

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