The Michigan State Spartans took the first game of the 2012 Big Ten Tournament on Wednesday afternoon at Huntington Park. No. 5 seed Sparty jumped out to a huge 10-2 lead over No. 4 seed Nebraska before it all almost came apart in the bottom of the 9th. The Huskers scored seven runs in the bottom of the 9th before MSU finally recorded the final out to preserve a 10-9 win.
MSU starter Tony Bucciferro pitched eight strong innings, scattering nine hits and allowing just one earned run. He struck out five and walked no one, keeping the Huskers from mounting a challenge and making it interesting. That all changed in the 9th, however, as Trey Popp came on in relief and surrendered five runs in two-thirds of an inning. Joe Zwierzynski spelled him, but did not record an out and gave up two more runs and the lead had suddenly dwindled by seven. Tony Wieber finally came on to get the last out of the game and earn a save.
The top of the Spartans' order blasted Nebraska pitchers Kyle Kubat, Luke Bablitz, and Tom Lemke. The first three hitters -- Ryan Jones, Justin Scanlon, and Jordan Keur -- all had two-RBI games. Keur hit the first homer of the tourney by going deep over the left field wall in the 5th to make it 4-2. MSU would seemingly remove all doubt the next inning, as both Scanlon and John Martinez drove in a pair during a five-run rally. But the Huskers would make them earn all 27 outs. Depending on the outcome of the second game, MSU will face either Indiana or Purdue on Thursday. Nebraska heads to the losers' bracket to face the loser of Ohio State and Penn State.
For more on the Spartans, visit The Only Colors, SB Nation's MSU blog. For more on Nebraska, visit Corn Nation. Stay tuned to this StoryStream for updates throughout the 2012 Big Ten Baseball Tournament.