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May 11, 2014
Pritchard's blast powers 4-1 win for Nebraska
Nebraska's offense wasn't in top form Sunday, but the Huskers made their hits count and Aaron Bummer ensured they wouldn't need too many of them.
Nebraska notched only seven hits, but Bummer allowed just four himself, and Michael Pritchard's two-run home run helped NU beat Michigan State 4-1 and take the series in East Lansing.
The win improves the Huskers to 34-17 on the season and 15-5 in the Big Ten. NU has won 19 of its last 23 games.
For the second straight day, Nebraska got a dominant performance from its starting pitcher. Chance Sinclair handcuffed the Spartans Saturday, but Bummer was even better. Coming off a seven-inning out last weekend, the junior allowed just four hits and one run in 7.1 innings to pick up his sixth win of the season.
"He had a couple leadoff walks and we're not happy about that, but he did a nice job of keeping it together," Darin Erstad said during his appearance on the Husker Sports Network. "I thought the ball came out his hand just fantastic today. Goodness sakes, he had some really electric stuff. And when he's doing that, he can be very effective. It was a really solid start and we'll look for him to build off that."
Bummer's counterpart on the mound, Justin Alleman, quieted Nebraska's bats for the most part, but the Huskers took advantage of their limited opportunities. Pat Kelly led off the second inning with a single and eventually came in to score on a ground out by Steven Reveles.
The real damage came in the sixth, when Michael Pritchard bombed a two-run home run, his third of the year, to give Nebraska the lead. Then Reveles doubled with two outs in the ninth, and Ben Miller knocked him in with a single to score an insurance run.
Bummer's one hiccup came in the third, when the Spartans used a leadoff double to score a run and tie the game 1-1. But he kept MSU from scoring again into the eighth, when he gave up a one-out single and a walk. Erstad called on Zach Hirsch to escape the jam, and the senior got a major assist from right fielder Austin Darby, who made a spectacular diving catch for the second out. A swinging strikeout ended the threat.
"Darby probably had the play of the year so far - just an unbelievable catch in right," Erstad said. "I don't know what to say. It was fantastic and it's a great effort."
Josh Roeder gave up one walk in the ninth, but was otherwise flawless to pick up his second save in as many days and his 12th of the season.
Nebraska will go for the series sweep Monday at 12:05 p.m.
Starter Aaron Bummer: Just as he did last season, Bummer is finding his footing at the right time. After a couple of rough starts, Bummer has put together back-to-back dominant outings. He submitted three 1-2-3 innings and allowed only one base runner in another two frames.
Right fielder Austin Darby: He may have had a quiet day at the plate with one single, but Nebraska might not win this game without Darby's eighth-inning diving catch. If that ball got by Darby, two runs would have scored and MSU would have at least tied the game.
Around the horn
***Taylor Fish started at catcher for the first time since leaving last Saturday's game when he pulled his hamstring. Coming into the weekend, Erstad said he thought Fish would only be used in emergency situations, so the sophomore must be have recovered quickly.
***Kelly's second-inning single was the 200th hit of his career.
***Pritchard extended his hitting streak to 14 games. He's also reached base in 23 straight games.
***Christian Cox came in as a pinch hitter and singled in the seventh. The junior now has four hits in his past seven at-bats.
***The attendance was 2,015.