OMAHA – Michael Pritchardâ€™s RBI double with one out in the top of the seventh inning broke a 2-2 tie and helped the Nebraska Cornhuskers defeat the Michigan State baseball team, 3-2, on Thursday night in the second round in of the Big Ten Tournament in Omaha, Nebraska.
Michigan State (30-25) is now 1-1 in the tournament and will face third-seeded Illinois for the second time in three days on Friday at 4:30 p.m. ET in an elimination game.
â€œWe didnâ€™t come out on top, but I thought our guys played well and our effort was outstanding. It was a great crowd, great atmosphere and a fun night to play baseball,â€ said MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. â€œUnfortunately we didnâ€™t make enough plays when we needed to. Hats off to Nebraska â€“ I thought they played very well.â€
Nebraska (39-18) starting pitcher Aaron Bummer struck out seven and held MSU to just four hits in his seven innings of work.
In his first postseason start in front of a crowd of nearly 12,000 at TD Ameritrade Park, the Spartansâ€™ Cam Vieaux tied his career high with seven strikeouts. The redshirt freshman pitched in and out of trouble throughout the game but never let the Huskers have a big inning, stranding a total of seven runners on base.
â€œCam is a competitor and I give him some credit for getting out of those jams,â€ Boss said.
With two runners aboard and one out in the first inning, Vieaux smothered the threat with consecutive strikeouts. He faced the minimum in the second frame and then gave up consecutive doubles to start the third. Steven Reveles led off the third inning with a double into the left corner and Ryan Boldt followed with another double into nearly the same spot, driving in the gameâ€™s first run.
A bunt single then gave the Huskers runners at the corners, but Vieuax again worked his way out of any further damage by sitting the Huskersâ€™ 3-4-5 hitters down in order to end the top of the third inning and keep it a 1-0 game.
A double by Tanner Lubach to start the fourth inning put the Huskers in position to build on their lead. Vieaux retired the next two hitters, but then issued a walk to Reveles to extend the inning. Boldt capitalized, driving in his second run of the day with a single to left field for a 2-0 Husker lead.
The Spartans worked their way back into the game by tying it at two with the help of a pair of Nebraska errors in the bottom of the fifth. Ryan Richardson led off the inning by reaching on an error and scored two batters later on a Justin Hovis infield single. A throwing error on the play allowed Hovis to advance to second and then two consecutive walks loaded the bases for the Spartans.
Blaise Salter wasted no time in taking advantage of the bases-loaded situation, driving the first pitch he saw to deep right field, scoring Hovis to tie the game, 2-2.
Vieaux retired the next four hitters before Jake Placzekâ€™s one out double in the seventh. Pritchard followed with the go-ahead RBI double that went off the glove of a diving Anthony Cheky, allowing Placzek to score for a 3-2 Husker lead.
A two-out single by Joel Fisher and then a walk to Ryan Krill gave the Spartans a pair of base runners in the bottom of the eighth. However Zach Hirsch got Richardson to ground out and then had a 1-2-3 ninth to earn the save.
Fisher led MSU at the plate with a game-high three hits.