The Huskers advanced to Saturday's semifinals of the Big Ten Baseball Tournament with a 3-2 victory over Michigan State in front of another tournament record crowd. Nebraska opened the scoring when shortstop Steven Reveles led off the third inning with a double. Freshman center fielder Ryan Boldt followed with another double to score Reveles. Nebraska had runners on first and third with nobody out, but couldn't do any more damage. Tanner Lubach led off the fourth with a double, and scored on a Ryan Boldt single to give Nebraska a 2-0 lead.
Michigan State tied the game in the fifth with a couple of unearned runs after errors by Blake Headley and Jake Placzek. In the seventh, Michael Pritchard doubled in Placzek for the eventual game winning run. Aaron Bummer pitched seven innings, giving up only the two unearned runs on four hits and two walks, striking out seven. Zach Hirsch pitched the final two innings to get his fourth save of the year.
Michigan State next plays Illinois in an elimination game at 3:30 pm Friday. Nebraska will next play bright and early at 9 am Saturday morning, facing the winner of Friday's 7:30 pm game between Iowa and the loser of Thursday's Michigan/Indiana game. That's an advantage for Nebraska on Saturday, as their opponent will likely be playing on less than 11 hours of rest following the Friday night matchup.
If Nebraska wins Saturday morning, the Huskers advance to Sunday's 1 pm championship game. If Nebraska loses, they'll have a rematch at 5 pm Saturday night.
Now, the big question for Saturday is how many Nebraska fans will wake up early for the 9 am game. The Big Ten Baseball tournament attendance record was shattered tonight, as 11,759 followed Wednesday's 10,424. That's almost 10,000 than the old Big Ten Baseball Tournament record, with three days still to go.
15,000 on Saturday morning, perhaps? Keep in mind, that tickets are all day tickets, so if you come to the morning game and Nebraska doesn't win, you can scan your ticket and come back for the 5 pm rematch.
A few post-game notes from Twitter:
Indiana didn't appreciate the Huskers' postgame celebration:
Indiana waiting for Nebraska to clear the dugout. Hoosiers just glaring in with a sense of "we're the top dog here"— Chris Webb (@ChrisMWebb) May 23, 2014
Kyle Kubat will pitch Saturday morning, but Christian Deleon will not pitch this weekend.
Kubat will start on Saturday. Erstad says DeLeon will not throw since he is still throwing off flat ground. "not ready yet"— Gary Sharp (@GarySharp1620) May 23, 2014
And the Huskers REALLY appreciate the support they've received this week:
Erstad first comment was on the "unbelievable atmosphere"— Gary Sharp (@GarySharp1620) May 23, 2014
Erstad "So humbled and honored to be part of Husker Nation" when asked repeatedly about crowd tonight— Gary Sharp (@GarySharp1620) May 23, 2014
Big W for the boys. Unbelievable support from Husker Nation. Couldn't have asked for a better atmosphere. See ya Saturday everyone.— Zach Hirsch (@zhirsch57) May 23, 2014