Husker Offense Falters in 4-2 Loss at Michigan State
East Lansing, Mich. – The Nebraska baseball team saw its five-game winning streak come to an end on Saturday with a 4-2 loss to the Michigan State Spartans. The series is now even at 1-1 and the teams will meet in the rubber match tomorrow at 11 AM (CT).
The Huskers managed just five hits, but did walk six times, on Saturday and stranded 10 base runners. Luke Roskam led the offense with a pair of hits, including a solo home run.
Michigan State produced eight hits on the day, including a total of five from its No. 8 and 9 hitters. Zach Iverson went 3-for-3 and Brock Vradenburg was 2-2, with the duo combining for three RBIs.
Chance Hroch went 6.0 innings for the Huskers and fell to 3-1 on the year. The senior was tagged with four runs (three earned) on seven hits and no walks, while striking out six. MSU's Nick Powers improved to 4-2 on the season with 5.0 innings of work, as he allowed just two runs (one earned) on four hits and four walks with five strikeouts.
Nebraska scored in the opening frame, as it took advantage of a MSU error. With two outs and runners on first and second Powers uncorked a wild pitch and on the play Gabe Sotres tried to cut down Spencer Schwellenbach at second base, but instead the throw went into center field and Joe Acker cruised home from third to give the Huskers a 1-0 lead.
Hroch sat down the first seven Spartans of the game before Iverson recorded MSU's first hit with a one-out double in the bottom of the third. Vradenburg followed with a game-tying RBI single before Hroch responded with an inning-ending 3-6-3 double play.
The tie game didn't last long as Roskam led off the fourth with an opposite-field home run to left, putting Nebraska back in front 2-1 on Roskam's fourth long ball of the season. The Huskers were in position to add to their lead when Logan Foster followed with a double off the center-field wall, but he was then retired at third base on a fielder's choice off the bat of Brice Matthews. Jack Steil worked a four-pitch walk to bring up the top of the order with two on and one out, but Powers escaped the jam with consecutive groundouts.
Powers retired NU's 3-4-5 hitters in order to start the fifth and then Sparty took its first lead of the weekend. Hroch retired the leadoff batter, gave up a single to Sortres and then struck out Casey Mayes, but a wild pitch on the strikeout let Sotres move into scoring position. Iverson delivered again, this time a RBI single to left on a 3-0 pitch that tied the game, 2-2. Vradenburg followed with a single to put runners on the corners for the top of the order. Trent Farquhar hit a slow roller down the third-base line and a tough throw from Max Anderson to first pulled Steil off the bag, allowing Iverson to score the go-ahead run. Zaid Walker then hit an infield single that loaded the bases for No. 3 hitter Bryce Kelley, who struck out looking to end the inning.
Nebraska was in position to tie or retake the lead in the top of the sixth after Roskam led off with a single and Foster worked a walk. Matthews stepped in and failed to execute a sacrifice bunt, instead popping it up. Steil then struck out and Joe Acker flew out to strand a pair of Huskers.
Michigan State added to its lead in the seventh, cashing in a leadoff double from Mayes. The double ended Hroch's day and NU went to lefty reliever Tyler Martin. Iverson welcomed Martin with Iverson's third hit and second RBI of the game, a single, and then Martin hit Reese Trahey. Nebraska turned the ball over to Cam Wynne, who go out of the jam with a ground out, a strikeout and a pop up to keep MSU's lead to a pair of runs, 4-2.
The Huskers were retired in order in the eighth and the first two batters were sat down in the ninth before Jaxon Hallmark reached on error. That brought the tying run to the plate, but Burrell Jones struck out Schwellenbach to secure his second save of the season.
There series finale is set for 11 AM (CT) tomorrow at McLane Stadium.