Huskers top Michigan State 4-0 in Big 10 Tournament elimination game; will face Maryland on Saturday at 1 PM

Published: May. 26, 2023 at 8:12 PM CDT|Updated: May. 26, 2023 at 9:55 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - After a heartbreaking loss on Thursday night to top seeded Maryland, the Huskers were in win or go home mode against Michigan State in the Big 10 Tournament, but managed to keep their season alive with a 4-0 victory over the Spartans, powered by Husker pitcher Will Walsh, who threw a complete game shutout.

The Huskers handed sophomore Will Walsh the ball with their season on the line, and he delivered, throwing a complete game shutout. He allowed just 4 hits, walked none and struck out 7 Spartans on 104 total pitches.

After scoring 9 runs in their tournament opener, the Husker bats were stymied against Maryland, only plating 1 run on 4 hits. The bats finally woke up on Friday evening as the Huskers managed to score 4 runs on 9 hits against the Spartans.

The first 3 innings of this elimination game offered little for the pro-Husker crowd to cheer about, with no score and a combined 3 hits between the 2 teams.

The Huskers scratched across a run in an unusual 4th inning. Charlie Fischer opened the inning with a single to center. Dylan Carey sacrificed Fischer to 2nd, who then scored on a Ben Columbus single to center. Cole Evans then grounded into a double play to end the inning. The unusual part of that half inning was the fact that Spartan pitcher Joseph Dzierwa only threw 4 pitches, with each Husker batter swinging at the first pitch and putting into play.

The Huskers tried to get a two-out rally going in the 5th inning with Max Anderson and Gabe Swansen singling to put runners on 1st and 2nd with 2 out. The Spartans went to the bullpen at that point, bringing in junior Harrison Cook. Catcher Josh Caron though couldn’t deliver, flying out to center on a 3-2 pitch.

The Spartans went quietly in the bottom of the frame after an opening single by catcher Bryan Broecker with Walsh retiring the next Spartan batter on a foul out before inducing an inning ending double play.

The game moved quickly along in the 6th inning, with the Huskers getting set down in order. The Spartans also went down in order in the bottom of the frame, though it was highlighted by a twisting grab at the left field wall by outfielder Gabe Swansen.

The bats remained quiet for the Huskers in the top of the 7th. Brice Matthews managed to reach base on an infield single with 2 outs, with Max Anderson following that up with his 4th single of the day.

Gabe Swansen followed up the Matthews and Anderson singles with a ground out to short, ending the inning with two men left on base for the Huskers.

Will Walsh continued his clutch pitching into the bottom of the 7th for the Huskers, allowing a 1 out single to Brock Vradenburg that bounced off the second base bag, before getting infielder Mitch Jebb to go down on strikes. Bryan Broecker flied out to right to end the inning.

The top of the 8th started with a Josh Caron pop-up in foul territory that was misplayed by Spartan 1st basemen Brock Vradenburg. Caron couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity, grounding out to the pitcher. DH Charlie Fischer worked a 1 out walk against Spartan pitcher Harrison Cook. The Huskers had Luke Sartori pinch run for Fischer, who managed to steal 2nd before Ben Columbus singled up the middle to drive in his 2nd run of the game and give the Huskers a 2-0 cushion. Garret Anglim, who replaced OF Cole Evans worked a 2 out walk to give the Huskers runners at 1st and 2nd. The runners advanced to 2nd and 3rd on a wild pitch by Spartan pitcher Harrison Cook. Casey Burnham - who was 0-15 over the last 5 Husker games - managed to pad the Husker lead with a 2 run triple on a ball that took a fast hop over the Spartan 1st basemen Vradenburg, putting the Huskers up 4-0 in the top of the 8th. Spartan coach Jake Boss Jr. went to his bullpen, calling in freshman Nolan Higgins to try and get out of the jam. Brice Matthews hit a grounder deep in the hole, but was thrown at first to end the inning.

Will Walsh stayed on the bump for the Huskers in the bottom of the 8th. He continued to pitch efficiently, mowing down the Spartans in order in just 10 pitches.

The Husker bats were quieted in the top of the 9th, with Max Anderson grounding out, Gabe Swansen striking out, and Josh Caron flying out to center.

The Spartans needed a big rally in the bottom of the 9th, but Husker pitcher Will Walsh continued to stymie the Spartans, striking out the first 2 batters of the inning before Trent Farquhar blooped a single into left. 1st basemen Brock Vradenburg struck out swinging to end the game.

Walsh finished with spectacular line, pitching a complete game shut out, allowing just 4 hits, no walks, and striking out 7.

Max Anderson went 4-5 with 4 singles. Ben Columbus finished 2-4 with 2 RBI, and Casey Burnham was 1-4 with 2 RBI.

With the victory, Nebraska now faces #1 seed Maryland on Saturday at 1 PM in their first semifinal appearance since 2019. Nebraska will need to beat Maryland twice on Saturday to advance to the Big 10 championship game. The second game (if necessary) would start at 9 PM on Saturday night.