BUIES CREEK, N.C. -Michigan State southpaw Mark Mulder delivered his finest performance as a collegian, dominating the Campbell lineup en route to 16 strikeouts, a career high, and a 6-2 Spartan victory over the Camels late Saturday night.
A pitcher's duel into the ninth, Michigan State centerfielder Mike Wagner snapped a 2-2 deadlock with a clutch bases loaded double, giving the Spartans the victory. Mulder went the distance to raise his record to 2-0, while Campbell (9-9) starter Eric Lee (0-5) garnered the loss, despite eight solid innings on the hill.
The victory over Campbell marked a sweep of a day/night doubleheader for the Spartans, as they defeated Columbia earlier in the day, 8-3. Brian Murphy (1-1) fanned ten against the Lions, as Michigan State pitchers totaled 27 Ks and just one walk during Saturday's two contests.
Mulder put on a show for all in attendance, as he walked none while fanning 16 batters. He allowed just four hits and two unearned runs during a 118-pitch outing. The South Holland, Ill., native struck out the side in the first inning and fanned at least one Camel hitter in every frame. Mulder was especially frustrating for Campbell leadoff man Keith Sears, who struck out in each of his four at(c)bats against the 6-6 lefty.
Michigan State was able to scratch a run home to open the scoring in the fifth. Sophomore Joe Albaugh reached first on a one-out single and stole second on a busted hit-and-run. After an infield single by Ted Demetral moved him to third, Grigg poked a two-base hit past Camel first baseman Mike Campbell scoring Albaugh.
After Campbell tied the score in the bottom of the frame on an unearned run, the Spartans manufactured another run in the sixth to put them up 2-1. Third baseman Mike Pisani smacked a one-out single, stole second, and came home on a single to left(c)center by catcher Carlos Fernandez. The Camels again evened the score in the bottom of the seventh, as Camel third baseman Jeff Huff scored on a passed ball on a swinging third strike by Mike Campbell.
Overshadowed by the heroics of Mulder and Wagner and perhaps crucial to the outcome of the contest, was the execution of two sacrifice bunts, one by MSU and one by Campbell. In the bottom of the eighth, the Camels' DH Robert Marcano led off with a base hit. Shortstop Bradley Coates could not execute the sacrifice bunt, fouling off the first pitch. With the MSU defense set up to defend the bunt, Coates instead swung away on the 0-1 pitch, grounding to third baseman Pisani, who turned a rare 5-6-3 double play, stalling the Camel rally.
This was contrasted by MSU's sacrifice execution in the top of the ninth. Tom Hartley laid down a bunt to open the inning, but Camel catcher Jeff Davis' throw got away from the the first baseman, allowing Hartley to reach as the potential go-ahead run. Fernandez, given orders to bunt, instead watched as four consecutive Eric Lee pitches sailed out of the strike zone, putting runners on first and second for Albaugh. He delivered a perfect sacrifice bunt, the first of his career, moving both runners into scoring position with one out. That forced Campbell manager Chip Smith to walk Demetral to load the bases, setting up Wagner for the clutch double which broke the game open. !!The victory marks the opening of a four-game set with the Camels, as the series resumes on Monday night. Spartan lefty Gary Zsigo will start on the mound.
NOTES: ffWith his clutch double, Wagner extends his team-best hitting streak to eight games...Also with that double, it extends a 20(c)game streak in which the Spartan leadoff man has got on base, dating back to last season.