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GRAND ISLAND WEATHER

Nebraska Baseball Cade Povich matched a career-high with 7.0 innings on Friday. Photo Credit: Maddie Washburn/Nebraska Communications

Povich and Bunz Shutout Spartans, 4-0, in Series Opener


Nebraska Baseball Cade Povich matched a career-high with 7.0 innings on Friday. Photo Credit: Maddie Washburn/Nebraska Communications

East Lansing, Mich. – Cade Povich tossed 7.0 shutout innings and improved to 4-1 on the year, as the Nebraska baseball team (19-6) reeled off its fifth consecutive win with a 4-0 series-opening victory over the Michigan State Spartans (11-16) on Friday at McLane Stadium. Nebraska's offense made the most of its seven hits, scoring a pair of runs in both the fourth and fifth innings.

Povich matched a career-high with 7.0 innings of work and allowed just four hits, while striking out five. Left-hander Jake Bunz continued to be lights out in relief, as the Elkhorn South product allowed just one hit and struck out three in 2.0 innings of scoreless relief behind Povich. In his 10.2 innings of work out of the bullpen this season Bunz has yet to allow a run.

Joe Acker entered Friday with a Big Ten-leading 29 runs scored and added two more in the win. Acker and Spencer Schwellenbach each drove in a run with their ninth doubles of the season

Michigan State starter Mason Erla was untouchable early, as the  junior right hander was perfect through 3.0 innings. The Huskers got to the Cass City, Mich., native in the fourth and fifth, resulting in his exit after 5.0 innings. He was tagged for four runs (three earned) on four hits and a walk, but did strike out seven, including six in the first three innings.

After both teams went down in order in the first inning the Spartans notched the first hit of the game one-out single from Bailey Peterson in the bottom of the second. Peterson would be stranded at first, as Povich recorded consecutive fly outs to center field to end the inning.

Erla struck out the side in the top of the third and the Spartans started a threat in the bottom of the inning with a leadoff single from Andrew Morrow. A sacrifice bunt from Dillon Kark put Morrow in scoring position for the top of the MSU order, but Povich dug in and induced a pair of groundouts to keep the game scoreless.

After setting down nine-straight Huskers to start the game Erla saw his perfect game go away in the top of the fourth when he hit Acker. Jaxon Hallmark then flew out to right field, but it was deep enough for Acker to tag up and move to second base. Schwellenbach stepped in and recorded NU's first hit of the game and it was a big one, as the junior drove a RBI double into the left-field gap, giving the Huskers a 1-0 lead. Cam Chick followed with a single to put runners on the corners before Max Anderson picked up his 21st RBI of the season with a groundout.

Working with a 2-0 lead, Povich recorded his third strikeout of the game to start the bottom of the fourth, gave up a walk, got a fly out and then picked off Mitch Jebb to end the inning.

The Huskers added to their lead with two more runs in the fifth, including one on a two-out MSU error. With the bases empty Griffin Everitt started a two-out rally when he was hit by pitch and then scored all the way from first on a double from Acker. Hallmark followed with a single to put runners on the corners and MSU was in position to get out of the inning, but a throwing error by Jebb from shortstop allowed Acker to score and Schwellenbach to reach first base. Erla struck out Chick to end the frame, limiting the damage to two runs. 

The Spartans mounted a threat in the sixth when they had the bases loaded with just one out. Zaid Walker reached on an error by second baseman Brice Matthews, Joe Stewart walked and an infield single by Jebb had MSU in position to get back into the game. With Peterson, the Spartan clean-up hitter, at the plate Povich got an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play on the first pitch of the at bat to keep the Huskers on top, 4-0.

Michigan State managed just two baserunners over the final 3.0 innings and Bunz finished the game with a perfect ninth inning.

Nebraska will try to secure a series victory tomorrow afternoon when the teams meet at 2 PM (CT). The game will be video streamed on BTN+ and carried across the Learfield/IMG Husker Sports Network.