The rubber match of this important series for Nebraska included a few lineup changes. Scott Schreiber was still out after getting hit on the wrist by a pitch in Game 1. He was replaced at first base by Ben Miller. Jake Meyers took the mound and was designated hitter (a role often occupied by Ben Miller). Cole Klemke took over for Meyers in right field. Steven Reveles hit in the leadoff spot that has been occupied by Ryan Boldt most of the season.
Michigan State surprisingly trotted out their left-handed ace (who had been scratched for Game 1 due to shoulder problems).
Inning 1 went quickly as both teams sent three up and both pitchers retired three.
Inning 2 opened with two straight singles by Husker batters (Miller and Fish). Luis Alvarado popped up an infield fly for out #1 and then Jake Placzek ripped a double to score Miller and advance Fish to 3rd. That was where it ended as Jack Schleppenbach and Cole Klemke both struck out. Huskers lead 1-0.
The bottom of the second for Sparty included two groundouts and a strikeout as Meyers was hitting the strike zone well and his changeup had Sparty batters all tied up.
Reveles and Boldt grounded out with Boldt's being the result of a great defensive play by the MSU second baseman. Jake Meyers came up and showed great hustle in beating the ball to the bag (the radio guys thought it was a virtual tie) and safely reaching first. Big Ben Miller then added to his RBI totals by hitting a double that scored Meyers. Taylor Fish then reached first on an error which scored Ben Miller to extend the Husker lead to 3-0. Luis Alvarado was not seeing the ball well so far and hit another fly ball for the 3rd out, stranding Fish.
In the bottom of the 3rd, Sparty led off with two straight singles followed by a strikeout. Another single scored a run as the double-play attempt did not quite reach first base in time. Myers buckled down and got the 3rd out via strikeout. Huskers still lead 3-1.
The Husker batters went down in order - Placzek, Schleppenbach, and Klemke.
In the bottom of the frame, Sparty mounted a small threat at their leadoff batter got aboard with a single that was hit back to Meyers but he lost it, forcing Schleppenbach to come in and field the ball. By then, there was no play at first. It was followed by a flyout, groundout (advancing the base runner to second) and then another flyout.
Husker lead remained 3-1.
The Huskers made some hay in the top of the 5th as Reveles led off with a surprise bunt that discombobulated the Michigan State pitcher and Steven beat the ball to first. Ryan Boldt then grounded out (he was having an unlucky day as the Sparty right-fielder stole a hit from him) but Reveles advanced to second.
While Jake Meyers was at-bat Reveles stole third. Jake then hit a strong double to score Rev and extend the Husker lead to 4-1.
Ben Miller was hit by a pitch. Fish came up to bat with runners on 1st and 2nd and hit a single to load the bases. Luis Alvarado collected his first hit of the day, a single, scored Meyers and reloaded the bases. The Husker lead grew to 5-1.
Placzek hit a fielder's choice which picked off Alvarado at second, but Jake avoided the double play at first and extended the inning. On the play, Miller scored and Fish went to 3rd. The score was now 6-1 in favor of Nebraska.
Jake Schleppenbach hit a flyout to end the Husker threat.
In the bottom of the 5th, Jake Meyers gave up a leadoff single, but the next MSU batter hit into a double play to erase the runner. The 3rd batter worked the count full but ultimately grounded out for the final out of the inning.
The Husker batters, Klemke, Reveles, and Boldt went down in order with a strikout, lineout, and strikeout.
In the bottom of the inning, Meyers induced a groundout from the first batter on an excellent defensive play by Jake Placzek. He then gave up a single that could have been a double except for another nice play by Placzek. The next MSU batter hit a fielder's choice and Schleppenbach picked off the lead runner but could not quite turn the double play.
Then the Sparty catcher hit a ball extremely hard, but Luis Alvarado robbed him of the homer with a catch at the wall.
The Nebraska lead remained 6-1.
At the top of the 7th, Jake Meyers led off and worked the count full, eventually drawing the walk. Ben Miller then hit a single, making it the fourth time in as many at-bats where he reached base. Taylor Fish sacrificed Meyers to 3rd and Miller to 2nd.
With Luis Alvarado up to bat a wild pitch scored Meyers and advanced Miller to 3rd. The Husker lead increased to 7-1. Luis could not finish the job and hit another infield fly for the second out.
Jake Placzek did his best to hit a homerun, but the catch was made at the warning track for the last out.
Huskers lead 7-1.
In the bottom of the 7th, the Michigan State batters went down in order with a flyout (a hard hit ball caught by Alvarado at the warning track) and two pop ups.
Husker batters went three up/three down (Schleppenbach, Klemke, Reveles).
Jake Meyers returned to the mound for the bottom of the 8th. He gave up a single. Sparty then sent up a pinch hitter and Meyers fell behind 3-1. Jeff Chesnut was throwing in the Husker bullpen. Meyers managed to get the batter to hit a flyball to Klemke for the first out.
The top of the order came up for MSU. The #1 batter popped up to Boldt for the second out. The next batter hit a 2-run homer to cut the Husker lead to 7-3.
Myers then got the Michigan State batter to pop up to Placzek for the final out.
Ryan Boldt completed an unlucky 0-5 day with a another good hit that required a sliding grab by a Sparty player. Jake Myers then singled but was picked off on a base-running error. Ben Miller popped up to end the bottom of the first. Husker lead remained 7-3.
In the bottom of the 9th Jeff Chesnut made his 88th appearance, setting a Husker record.
The first Sparty batter hit one right at Chesnut and he was unable to pick it up barehanded and the runner was safe at first.
Jeff hit the next batter and Sparty had runners at 1st and 2nd with no one out. Chad Luensmann was throwing in the bullpen. Pitching Coach Ted Silva visited the mound and did pull the senior in favor of the freshman closer - not wanting to take any chances with a four run lead.
Chad entered in yet another save situation (he already has 10 on the season) and immediately got MSU to hit a roller that he fielded and sent to first for out #1. The runners advanced to 2nd and 3rd.
The next batter grounded one to first base. Ben Miller came off the bag and threw to Luensmann covering for the second out. One Sparty run scored and cut the lead to 7-4 with a runner at 3rd and 2 outs.
The next batter hit a chopper that Reveles threw to first for the final out and win.
Final score 7-4.
The Huskers got their 30th win of the year and scored a big road series victory against the #24 ranked Spartans.
Freshman Chad Luensmann recorded his 11th save and appears on track to challenge Josh Roeder's Husker career save record of 33.
Jake Meyers not only pitched 8 solid innings, but scored three of the Husker runs on the day. This win puts Nebraska back into the discussion for a possible regional berth. They get to play out the rest of the regular season (and Big Ten Tournament) in the friendly confines of the Cornhusker State.
Nebraska currently sits tied for 4th in B1G standings (with Michigan State) and is two games behind Indiana.
Next game: Wednesday May 11, at 6:30 p.m. at Hawks Field in Lincoln versus Omaha. The weekend series is against Penn State, also in Lincoln. That will be followed by a midweek game against Creighton in Omaha and a return to Lincoln for the season finale series against conference-leading Indiana.