May 23, 2012

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Around the Tournaments: Wednesday recaps


Spartans hang on for win over Huskers

By Phil Stanton Co-Founder



COLUMBUS, 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 contest ended.