The Nebraska baseball team (25-27, 15-8 Big Ten) had their spot at the Big Ten Tournament secured before the start of tonight’s game following a loss by Michigan State, and with the 9-6 win over the Michigan Wolverines (28-25, 13-10 Big Ten) in front of a season-high 5,503 fans at Hawks Field the Huskers locked up at minimum the No. 3 seed at the conference tournament next week in Minneapolis, Minn., at Target Field.
The Huskers now have an opportunity to earn the No. 2 seed at the tournament with a win tomorrow and a loss by the Ohio State Buckeyes to the Indiana Hoosiers.
Nebraska was cruising with a 9-2 lead heading into the eighth inning, where the Husker bullpen coughed up four runs on a grand slam off the bat of Michael O’Neill, his second home run of the series. Josh Roeder entered the game for the Huskers and calmed the waters to earn his fifth save of the season. The sophomore dealt 2.0 innings of shutout ball on one hit and four strikeouts.
Roeder’s heroics preserved a second-straight solid outing from sophomore Aaron Bummer, who gave Nebraska 7.0 innings after tossing 7.0 shutout innings at Minnesota last week. The 6-2 lefty limited the Wolverines to two runs (one earned) on four hits and a walk, while striking out three. The Peoria, Ariz., native improved to 3-1 on the year, earning wins in consecutive appearances for the first time in his career.
While Bummer was holding the Wolverines bats at bay, Nebraska’s offense teed off on Michigan starter Evan Hill. The freshman entered the game with a 7-2 record, but lasted just 3.0 innings against the Huskers. The 6-5 lefty gave up seven runs (six earned) on nine hits.
Every Husker produced a hit on the night, as Nebraska tallied 16 hits off Michigan’s arms. The Husker bats have put together double-digits hits in five of their past six games, including 16 hits in three of their last four games.
After blasting a two-out triple in last night’s loss, Pat Kelly continued to swing a hot stick with a 3-for-5 night, coming up a triple shy of the cycle. In his first three at-bats of the game, the Red Wing, Minn., product singled, blasted a three-run homer and doubled. Kelly’s homer was a three-run shot to left-center field in the second inning that put the Huskers up 5-2 and was his first homer of the season. It came after Nebraska laid down consecutive base-hit squeeze bunts that tied the game, 2-2.
Michael Pritchard also notched three hits on the night, going 3-for-4 at the plate, including his 13th double of the season.
Tanner Lubach continued his hot streak at the plate, pounding out his fifth straight multi-hit game, as he was 2-for-2 with a RBI. The sophomore catcher is 11-for-20 over his past five games with nine of his 23 RBIs on the season.
Nebraska goes for the series win tomorrow at 12:05 p.m. in the rubber match of the three-game series, with senior Tyler Niederklein getting the start on Senior Day at Hawks Field. Logan McAnallen is scheduled to start for the Wolverines and is 3-2 on the year.