March 9, 2012
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - The Michigan State baseball team rallied from a 5-3 deficit by scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh and two more in the eighth to defeat Xavier, 8-5, Friday afternoon in the Snowbird Classic at North Charlotte Regional Park.
In the decisive seventh inning, the Spartans (6-6) rattled off three consecutive two-out hits to take a 6-5 lead.
Freshman center fielder Anthony Cheky started the comeback with a single, then stole second for his second stolen base of the game. After a flyout for the second out of the inning, Torsten Boss delivered an RBI double to score Cheky, and Ryan Jones hit a RBI single to plate Boss and tie the game at 5.
The Spartans took a one-run lead as freshman Jimmy Pickens doubled down the right-field line to score Jones, but Pickens was later thrown out on a rundown to end the inning.
"Anthony plays the game hard and his speed affects the game," said MSU head coach Jake Boss. "Then we got some big hits from the middle of our order. Jimmy is very athletic and is really seeing the ball well right now."
MSU added two more insurance runs in the eighth to go up 8-5. Freshman designated hitter Ryan Krill slugged a two-out double to right center to bring home Justin Scanlon, then Krill scored courtesy of a balk and an error by Musketeer shortstop Patrick Paligraf.
Tony Wieber retired Xavier (4-11) in order in the ninth for his third save of the season and 12th of his career, which is now tied for second all-time at Michigan State along with Mike Ericson and Domanick Squires.
"Tony has really embraced that closer role," said Boss. "We definitely feel good about handing him the ball when we have a lead in the ninth."
Michigan State collected 12 hits, including two each from Cheky, Boss, Pickens and Jordan Keur.
With MSU leading 3-1 in the top of the seventh, the Musketeers scored four runs to take a 5-3 lead. Bucciferro entered the frame allowing just three hits and one run, but Xavier tallied four hits off of the Spartan starter, including a two-run homer by Brian Bruening.
Bryce Jenney came on in relief with two outs and runners on first and second. Although Jenney allowed a single and a run to score, he got out of the jam without further damage and pitched a 1-2-3 eighth to pick up his first career win as a Spartan.
"Tony didn't have his best stuff today, but was grinding it out and his pitch count was low," Boss said. "But the seventh just got away from us there for a little bit. Bryce came in and did a nice job of holding them off, and then we answered the bell and responded with three runs."
All Xavier five runs were credited to Bucciferro in the no decision. He struck out four and walked two while scattering seven hits in his 6.2 innings of work.
Although Xavier scored first with a solo run in the second, MSU bounced back to take a 2-1 advantage with two runs in the bottom of the third. With two outs and no one on base, Cheky singled, stole second, and scored on Keur RBI single. Boss then doubled home Keur to give MSU the lead.
In the fourth, Michigan State again used the stolen base to score, as Pickens hit a one-out single, swiped second, and scored on a John Martinez RBI single.
MSU has stolen eight bases the past two games, including three by Cheky.
The Spartans return to action Saturday at 6 p.m. to face Seton Hall (5-7) in the Snowbird Classic at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla. Gametracker will be available on msuspartans.com, and live updates will also be available on Michigan State Baseball's Twitter page @statebaseball.