East Lansing, Mich. – Aaron Bummer allowed just four hits over 7.1 innings and Michael Pritchard delivered a two-run homer that powered the No. 29 Nebraska baseball team to a 4-1 win over the Michigan State Spartans on Sunday afternoon to clinch a series win. The Huskers are now 34-17 on the year and 15-5 during Big Ten play and will go for the series sweep tomorrow at McLane Stadium.
Nebraska played great defense behind its pitchers all day, including a full-extension diving catch by Austin Darby in the bottom of the eighth that robbed Blaise Salter of a double that would have tied the game.
Bummer gave up one run and stuck out three in his second straight start of at least 7.0 innings, while the duo of Zach Hirsch and Josh Roeder closed out the game for the second straight day. Hirsch got the final two outs of the eighth and Roeder picked up his 12th save with a no-hit ninth inning.
After notching a pair of doubles yesterday, Pat Kelly became the 22nd player in school history to notch 200 career hits with a leadoff single in the second inning. Pritchard also joined the club earlier this season during NU’s series at Iowa and with his home run extended his hitting streak to 15 games and now has 238 career hits.
The Huskers gave MSU starter Justin Alleman just his second loss of the season, as he entered the game with a 5-1 record. An 18th-round pick by Kansas City in 2012, Alleman gave up three runs on five hits and two walks. His two strikeouts were his lowest total in six starts.
After NU went down in order in the first, Kelly picked up the game’s first hit with a single up and middle and Darby followed with a bloop single to right field. Blake Headley then laid down a sacrifice bunt that put two Huskers in scoring position and Steven Reveles delivered a RBI groundout that put the Huskers ahead 1-0.
Bummer retried the first six Spartans he faced, but the streak was snapped when Ryan Richardson led off the home half of the third with a double. The Spartans quickly tied the game with a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly, before Bummer induced a groundball off the bat of Cam Gibson to end the third with the game tied, 1-1.
Following NU’s back-to-back singles in the second, Alleman retired 11 straight Huskers before Ben Miller worked a two-out walk in the top of the fifth. Nebraska was unable to do anything with the free pass, but cashed in a one-out walk to Jake Placzek in the sixth. With the NU third baseman on first, Pritchard launched an 0-1 offering from Alleman into the Red Cedar River beyond the right-field wall for his third homer of the year, increasing NU’s lead to 3-1.
Bummer cruised through the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, giving up a just a pair of base runners on a one-out hit in the fifth and a leadoff walk in the sixth. MSU put together a scoring opportunity in the seventh when they got a leadoff walk from Jimmy Pickens and a base hit from Joel Fisher to put the tying run on base with no out, but Bummer worked out of the jam.
A pop out by Ryan Krill resulted in the first out and then the Spartans ran into an out when Pickens got caught in a run down between third base and home when Placzek made a diving stop. With two out, but still two on, Bummer got Johnny Nate to pop out, keeping the Huskers on top, 3-1.
Bummer got the first out of the eighth, but then gave up a single and walk that ended his day. Hirsch took the mound with the tying runs on base and MSU’s No. 3 and 4 hitters coming to the plate. Salter nearly tied the game, but Darby’s highlight grab robbed Salter of two RBIs and at least a double. Hirsch then put an end to the threat with a strikeout of Jimmy Pickens.
For the second straight day the Huskers added an insurance run in the eighth. Reveles lined a double down the right-field line with two down and Miller snapped an 0-for-6 start to the series with an RBI single that put the Huskers ahead 4-1.
Roeder took the mound in the ninth and for the second straight game closed the door to secure a series win for the Huskers.
The series finale is scheduled for a 12:05 p.m. (CT) first pitch tomorrow and will be carried nationally on the Big Ten Network. Greg Sharpe and Lane Grindle will also have the call across the Husker Sports Network, including for free on Huskers.com.