East Lansing, Mich- It was not pretty, Nebraska had an early lead, and blew it, losing 5-3 to be swept at Michigan State. Nebraska (14-16, 2-6 Big Ten) had numerous opportunities but were unable to execute. Seven hits, just not good enough for the Huskers.
After Michigan State had jumped out to an early lead on Saturday, Nebraska returned the favor, scoring two runs in the first inning. Mojo Hagge led off the game working a seven pitch walk. With Hagge on first, Scott Schreiber got a favorable 3-1 count and doubled down the left field line to score Hagge. Schreiber moved to third on the play when left fielder Bryce Kelley misplayed the ball in right field. Jesse Wilkening followed up with a sacrifice fly to right to score Schreiber.
The Huskers sent Matt Waldron to the mound to face the Spartan offense. He set down the first two batters in the inning in quick fashion. Dan Chmielewski broke up Waldron’s rhythm with a single with two outs. Zack McGuire followed with a single and an error on Hagge scored Chmielewski. Ryan King grounded out to get the Huskers back to the dugout.
Nebraska had a quick top of the second while Michigan State tied the game in their half. Chad Roskelly started the inning with a single. A one out single from catcher Adam Proctor and a wild pitch from Waldron allowed Roskelly to score.
It did not take long for Nebraska to regain the lead with the help of Schreiber. He majestically deposited another pitch behind the short porch in right field.
With a 3-2 lead, Nebraska continued to skirt around potential danger.
In the third inning, Chmielewski was thrown out trying to steal second, to make it a three up three down inning.
Roskelley got to third in the fourth inning with two outs after he singled. Waldron then get three straight groundball outs.
In the fifth, both teams had a chance. Nebraska got a runner to third with one out, but a double play with Schreiber on the move from first ended that threat.
After the Nebraska threat, the Huskers went to the bullpen for Matt Warren. Warren got the first two hitters, before walking Chmielewski and allowing a bloop hit to McGuire. Warrene buckled down and got King to ground out.
MSU managed to tie the game in the seventh inning. Kelley led the inning off with a triple over the head of Jaxon Hallmark in right. He scored two batters later when Zach Iverson singled past Schreiber into right field. After a walk to McGuire, Nebraska went back to the bullpen for Paul Tillotson. With two outs, and runners on second and third, Tillotson got King to strike out swinging.
With the strikeout to swing momentum, Hagge doubled down the left field line to represent the go ahead run. After an intentional walk to Schreiber, Wilkening laid down a sacrifice bunt to put two in scoring position for the Huskers. Luke Roskam had a 3-0 count, and managed to strikeout, for his team lead tying 34th. After a walk to Zac Repinski, the Huskers sent up Hallmark who tied Roskam with his 34th strikeout of the year.
What Nebraska could not do in the eighth inning, Michigan State did. Roskelley singled against Tillotson to start the inning. MSU executed the sacrifice bunt to get pinch runner Danny Gleaves into scoring position.
Jake McSteen would come in, his first appearance since the Big Ten/Pac 12 Challenge. After allowing a single to Proctor, he got Kelley to go down swinging to put the Huskers one out away from getting out of danger.
Ted Silva would turn to the right hander Reece Eddins to face Justin Antoncic. Eddins would uncork a pair of wild pitches to allow Gleaves and Proctor to score and put the Spartans up 5-3.
In the ninth, Nebraska got a one out walk from Mike Addante. Zac Luckey popped up on the first pitch he saw from Riley McCauley. Hagge representing the tying run, got a chopping single on a ball up the middle to bring up Schreiber. Schreiber grounded a ball through the hole into left field, to load the bases for Wilkening. Wilkening hit a fly ball to Antoncic with a 2-2 count to finish the game.
Paul Tillotson takes the loss for the Huskers, who drop to just 2-6 in Big Ten play. Michigan State improves to 3-5 in Big Ten play and gain the ever important tie breaker in the Big Ten Tournament standings. Riley McCauley gets the win for the Spartans and he improves to 2-4 on the season.
Nebraska now has lost six of their past seven games. This Michigan State team outhit, outpitched, and flat out outplayed Nebraska this weekend. Nebraska has a lot of soul searching to do, they have five Big Ten weekend series left. One series against Rutgers looks manageable, but the other four look to be challenging at best. Not getting to play Northwestern or Penn State will not make getting into the Big Ten Tournament any easier.