NU MEDIA RELATIONS:
Omaha – A five-run sixth inning by the Michigan State Spartans (35-18) doomed the Nebraska baseball team (37-19) on Wednesday afternoon, as the No. 7 seed Spartans beat the No. 2 seed Huskers, 5-1, in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament. The Spartans scored all five of their runs in the sixth on five hits, while notching just three hits the rest of the game.
Michigan State’s Cam Vieaux hadn’t gone more than 4.1 innings in his last four starts, but the lefty turned in a dominant 8.2-inning performance on Wednesday. It’s Vieaux’s longest outing since he tossed a complete-game shutout at Purdue on April 15. Vieaux recorded just one strikeout on the day, but limited the Huskers to one run on three hits and two walks.
Junior Derek Burkamper tossed a shutout through the first five innings on just one hit, but couldn’t make it through the sixth. The Spartans tagged Burkamper for four runs in the sixth, the most he’s allowed this year since March 25 at Purdue when the Boilermakers scored five runs (four earned).
The Spartan offense battled at the plate all day, as NU’s pitchers couldn’t put them away. Six of MSU’s eight hits came with two strikes. NU’s three hits came from its No. 3 and 4 hitters, including two singles from Jake Meyers and a double from Ben Miller
After the Huskers left a runner in scoring position in the second, the Spartans got their first hit of the game with a two-out single from No. 9 hitter Kory Young in the top of the third, one of his three on the day. Young then stole second to get in scoring position, but Burkamper stranded him there with an inning-ending fly out.
Burkamper allowed just one hit in the first five innings, but then ran into trouble in the sixth when all nine Spartans came to the plate. Justin Hovis led off with a double, Young followed with a bunt single and on the play Burkamper sailed the throw to first, allowing Hovis to score the game’s first run. Brandon Hughes worked a four-pitch walk and Jordan Zimmerman followed with a RBI double that knocked Burkamper out of the game. Reece Eddins took over with two runners in scoring position and the first batter he faced reached on a fielding error by Jake Schleppenbach that also allowed MSU’s third run of the frame to score. MSU added two more runs on a sac fly and a pair singles to take a 5-0 lead.
Trailing 5-0 the Huskers were able to get on the board in the bottom of the sixth. Jake Placzek worked a one-out walk, the first allowed by Vieaux, and later scored when Miller doubled off the left-center field wall. Vieaux was able to limit the damage to just one run, getting Taylor Fish to fly out into shallow right field to end the inning.
Nebraska’s bullpen kept the Spartans at bay over the final three innings, but NU’s offense was also unable to solve Vieaux. Miller was NU’s lone base runner over the final three innings, working a one-out walk in the ninth.
The Huskers now fall into the loser’s bracket and face the Indiana Hoosiers in an elimination game tomorrow at 9:03 a.m. The game will be carried live on the Big Ten Network.