Feb. 22, 2014
Surprise, Ariz. - Michigan State scored two runs in the top of the ninth inning to erase a one-run deficit and defeat No. 1 Oregon State on Saturday afternoon in Surprise, Ariz. Joel Fisher went 3-for-5 on the day, knocking in five runs and scoring two to help improve Michigan State's record to 4-1 on the season.
It was the highest-ranked opponent MSU has defeated since topping No. 6 Rice, 9-3, in 2008.
"I'm really proud of this team," said head coach Jake Boss. "I've been here six years and you can say this is one of the biggest wins we've had outside of the Big Ten Championship in 2011. Big win for our team, obviously beating the number one team, but it was the way we won it. Whether it was Oregon State or any other team, the way we won it showed character to get the leadoff guy on in the ninth and manufacture some runs in the ninth."
Fisher got his day started in his first at bat with a grand slam over the left fielders head in the top of the first. Singles from Ryan Richardson and Blaise Salter followed by Ryan Krill being hit by a pitch loaded the bases for the senior catcher. Fisher jumped all over the first pitch of the at-bat, recording his first career grand slam and giving MSU the early 4-0 advantage.
Oregon State didn't back down, scoring runs in each of the first three frames, capped off with a two-run home run in the third from Dillon Davis that tied the game at 5-5.
Anthony Misiewicz came in relief of starter Justin Alleman after the third inning. Misiewicz threw four and a third innings of one-hit ball, shutting down the Beavers in the middle innings and holding the game to a tie.
"Anthony (Misiewicz) settled in and threw well," said Boss. "He got a little fired up in the eighth, but when he is able to execute pitches he is as good as anyone in my opinion. He gave us a great effort in the middle of the ball game when we needed to stop the bleeding and hang a couple of zeros up on the board."
MSU tried to break the 5-5 tie in the fourth with two on and two out when Richardson sent a single back up the middle. P.J. Nowak made the turn around third, but a perfect throw beat him to the plate for the third and final out of the inning.
Michigan State threatened again in the top half of the seventh, but couldn't push across the go-ahead run after Cam Gibson was stranded at third despite a leadoff triple.
The Spartans put on pressure yet again in the eighth and finally pushed across a run to take a 6-5 lead. Fisher singled to left, followed by a Nowak walk and error that allowed Justin Hovis to reach first and load the bases for MSU. Gibson stepped up and hit a bloop single just over the shortstop's reach that fell in, allowing Fisher to score.
Trailing by one with two on and one out in the eighth, Oregon State attempted a double steal. Reliever Jeff Kinley, who just entered the game, got the batter to miss and Fisher threw the runner out at third, seemingly shifting the momentum in Michigan State's favor.
Following a walk, Oregon State first baseman Kavin Keyes ripped a double into left-center, driving home two runs and giving the Beavers a 7-6 lead.
The resilient Spartans were down but not out though, getting their first three batters of the final inning on base. Chase Toth was the pinch runner for Salter after a base hit up the middle followed by a Ryan Krill single into center allowing Toth to advance to third.
Fisher came up with another big at-bat, sending a hard hit ball at the shortstop that drove home Toth. The winning run came on a passed ball with Nowak at the plate, allowing Krill to score the go-ahead run.
In the ninth, the Spartans called on freshman Jake Lowery, who earned his first-collegiate victory. Lowery gave up a one-out single, but got Michael Conforto to ground out into a game ending 6-4-3 double play.
"Our guys showed a lot of character," said Boss. "I think this team plays with a little bit of a chip on its shoulder and the way we started was evidence of that. We gave up the lead in the eight but they showed a lot of heart coming back in the ninth. Really big win for our program. At the same time its game five and we have a long way to go, but we will enjoy this one tonight."
Michigan State closes out play in the Pac 12/Big Ten Challenge tomorrow when it takes on Washington at 4 p.m. ET.