March 20, 2010
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The Michigan State baseball team improved to 11-4 on the year by taking both games of a doubleheader with Notre Dame on Saturday in South Bend, Ind. The Spartans pounded the Irish, 13-0, in game one and then scored five runs over the final three innings to take game two, 7-4.
"Anytime you get a sweep on the road, it's a special thing - especially against an outstanding program like Notre Dame," said MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. "We played well today. We got timely hits and made plays when we needed. We were fortunate to come out with two wins."
In game one, the Spartans got a masterful performance from junior ace A.J. Achter, who pitched his first-career complete game and also notched a career-best nine strikeouts. Achter, who improved to 2-0, allowed just seven hits and kept the Irish off balance all afternoon, facing the minimum in five of the nine innings.
"A.J. was outstanding in game one," Boss said. "He executed his pitches and didn't really get himself into any trouble. That is what we're looking for out of our number one starter and he certainly lived up to those expectations."
The Spartans jumped out to a five-run lead in the first inning and never looked back. The first four Spartan hitters reached base to start the game, with Jeff Holm driving in the first run of the game with a bases-loaded single. Andrew Carpenter and Chris Roberts each drove in two more runs before a double to center field by Ryan Jones made it 5-0.
Notre Dame committed five costly errors in game one, leading to solo runs for the Spartans in the second, fifth and sixth innings. Boike made it 9-0 MSU with an RBI single that scored Jones in the top of the seventh.
Eckerle, who went 2-for-5 in game one, picked up RBIs in the eighth and ninth innings as the Spartans added two more runs for the 13-0 win in game one.
Notre Dame starting pitcher Steve Sabatino gave up five hits over five innings and just two of the nine runs he allowed were earned. Sabatino is now 1-2 on the year.
After winning game one in a rout, the Spartans took on a more determined Irish team in game two. Notre Dame's offense awoke in first inning of game two with three runs, keyed by a two-run home run from Ryan Connolly.
The Spartans got one run back in the top of the second frame when Holm led off the inning with a bunt and then worked himself into scoring position. Holm advanced to second on a passed ball and then moved to third on ground out. Another ground out by Chris Roberts allowed Holm to touch home and make the score 3-1.
Starting pitchers Kurt Wunderlich of MSU and Brian Dupra of Notre Dame cruised through the third and fourth innings as each faced the minimum.
The Spartans made it a one-run game in the top of the fifth inning with a RBI single by Boike, but the Irish got the run back in their half of the fifth to make the score 4-2.
The Green and White began its comeback in the seventh as Jones led off with a single and John Martinez walked - ending Durpa's day on the mound. A single by Boike on the next at-bat, combined with an Irish error, gave MSU its first run of the inning. Eckerle followed with an RBI single and then with the bases loaded, Holm walked to give MSU its first lead, 5-4. A fielder's choice by Bo Felt gave MSU its final run of the inning.
Reliever Kurtis Frymier came on with two on and one out in the ninth and after issuing a walk to the first batter he faced to load the bases, Frymier got Matt Scioscia to ground into an inning-ending double play.
An RBI-single by Jonathan Roof in the top of the ninth sealed the comeback victory for the Spartans.
Wunderlich improved to 3-1 for MSU with the win.
"I was proud of our guys," Boss said. "We dug ourselves a hole and didn't play well early on, but we stuck with it, chipped away, and were able to pull it out."
The Spartans will go for the series sweep on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. Tony Bucciferro is scheduled to start on the hill for the Spartans.