March 28, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Jared Hook's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth brought home Torsten Boss for the game-winning run as the Michigan State baseball team defeated Central Michigan, 6-5, Wednesday afternoon at McLane Baseball Stadium. The victory extends MSU's winning streak to eight games.
For the Spartans, who have won 11 of their last 12 overall, it also marked their third consecutive win over Central Michigan.
With the game tied at 5 in the top of the ninth, Michigan State (15-7) got out of a jam as CMU stranded Nick Regnier, who led off the inning with a double.
In the bottom half of the ninth, the Spartans took advantage of their opportunity. Boss reached first with a leadoff walk and stole second on a 1-2 count to Tony Wieber, then advanced to third on a Wieber groundout to second base, setting the stage for Hook's sacrifice fly.
Hook was actually pinch hitting in the ninth, and had to face Chippewa southpaw Dietrich Enns, a Cape Cod League All-Star last summer. Enns also entered the game after Wieber's groundout.
Hook hit a 1-2 pitch deep enough to left field to easily score Boss from third, giving MSU its second walk-off win of the season.
Both teams struggled in the field defensively, combining for seven errors, and the game was played in a steady wind with gusts up to 25 mph. But Michigan State once again found a way, winning its fifth straight contest that has been decided by one run.
Jeff Kinley (3-2) earned the win on the mound for MSU, pitching 4 2/3 scoreless innings of relief while striking out four. He replaced freshman Mick VanVossen in the fifth inning, who made his first collegiate start. VanVossen allowed five runs, but just two were earned, and struck out two while walking four. He also scattered six hits and threw 86 pitches in his 4 1/3 innings.
"It wasn't the prettiest ballgame we've played, but at the same time, our guys showed a lot of character and put a couple of good at-bats in the ninth inning and were able to get it done," said MSU head coach Jake Boss. "It was important for us (to win it in the ninth). The longer we play, the more pitchers we use and the tougher it's going to be on our bullpen during the weekend. Jeff Kinley did a great job of staying the course and settling things down. In the ninth, we tried a sacrifice bunt and that didn't work, but Torsten was able to get a good jump and steal second base, and Tony Wieber had a great at-bat to move him to third. Then we had a sac fly to win it, so it worked out."
The Spartans found themselves in a 5-3 hole after four and a half innings, but scored single runs in the fifth and sixth to tie the game at 5. Justin Scanlon, who went 2-for-4, delivered an RBI single in the fifth, while Boss hit a sacrifice fly the next inning.
The Spartans and Chippewas (11-14) posted eight hits apiece.
CMU starter Matt Trowbridge struck out five, scattered eight hits and surrendered four runs, two earned, in his five innings of work. Dylan Rheault (0-2) took the loss for the Chippewas.
The Spartans improved to 5-0 at home this season and look to continue their winning streak against Ohio State at McLane Baseball Stadium this weekend.
"We're trying to bring a better focus to the midweek games this year," said Boss. "I think we did that today, even though we didn't probably play as good as we would have hoped. I think it gives us some momentum going into the weekend with a very good (Ohio State) ballclub coming in. Hopefully we can carry this over into Friday."
The defending Big Ten Champion Spartans open conference play this weekend (Friday-Sunday) against the Buckeyes (13-10, 1-2). The first game of the three-game series is set for Friday at 3:05 p.m.