May 23, 2012
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Around the Tournaments: Wednesday recaps
Spartans hang on for win over
By Phil Stanton
Ohio – Michigan State owned the middle innings, but Nebraska
almost stole it in the bottom of the ninth.
Fifth-seeded Michigan State built an eight-run
lead after eight before holding on for a 10-9 win over
fourth-seeded Nebraska in the first round of the Big Ten
Tournament at Huntington Park.
The Spartans (36-19) will face either top-seeded
Purdue or second-seeded Penn State on Thursday, while the
Cornhuskers (34-22) get an elimination game at noon.
“It’s good to win the first one,” said MSU head
coach Jake Boss. “If you lose the first one you really put
yourself behind the eight-ball. We got the first one out of the
way, probably a little closer than we like there in the ninth.
We knew Nebraska wasn’t going to quit.”
Justin Scanlon and John Martinez both had two-run
singles in a five-run sixth as the Spartans took a 9-2
advantage. MSU did not have a hit the first time through the
order, but put up 17. The Spartans scored in five straight
frames after going scoreless in the first two innings.
Tony Bucciferro (6-3) pitched a solid eight
innings for MSU, allowing nine hits and one earned run with no
walks and five strikeouts.
“Tony was lights out for us today,” Boss said.
“He ran into a little trouble in the second and third but got
out of jams, settled into it and was really really good.”
Trey Popp took over on the mound and got a
groundout before walking a pair. Chad Christensen lined out to
left for the second out before a run-scoring single by Richard
Stock and a RBI double by Josh Scheffert made it 10-4. Popp hit
Rich Sanguinetti to load the bases and end his day. Joe
Zwierzynski took over and forced in a pair with a hit batsman
and a walk to narrow the gap to 10-6.
Closer Tony Wieber entered to face the No. 9
hitter, Kale Kiser, who already had two hits. He roped a double
to right center to clear the bases and pull Nebraska to within
one at 10-9. A wild pitch advanced Kiser to third, putting the
tying run 90 feet away. Leadoff batter Pat Kelly lined a ball to
the right side that second baseman Ryan Jones leapt and caught
to end the contest.
Joel Fisher and Anthony Cheky, the No. 8 and 9
hitters for the Spartans, both went 4 for 5 with a pair of runs.
“We got a lot of production out of the entire
lineup,” Boss said. “Guys at the bottom each got four hits. If
we turn the bottom of the order over like that and get those
guys on base for our guys at the top, I think we’ve got a pretty
good chance to win.”
The Cornhuskers scored single runs in the second
and third before the ninth-inning outburst. Michael Pritchard
went 4 for 4 with a walk and two runs. He was on deck when the