Spartans Fall to Gophers in Series Opener, 4-2
Pickens goes 2-for-2 at the plate.
March 29, 2014
MINNEAPOLIS - The Michigan State baseball team fell to Minnesota, 4-2, on Saturday afternoon at Siebert Field in Minneapolis, Minn., in the opener of the three-game weekend series. Minnesota starting pitcher Alec Crawford limited MSU to five hits over seven-complete innings as the Gophers improved to 14-7 overall and 3-1 in the Big Ten. MSU is now 10-11 and 1-3 in conference play.
Trailing 1-0 in the top of the fourth, the Spartans' Anthony Cheky gave MSU its first scoring opportunity of the game almost singlehandedly. Cheky led off the top of the fourth inning with a single and then proceeded to steal second and third. A Blaise Salter sacrifice fly to center brought home Cheky to tie the game, 1-1.
After giving up the run in the first, Spartan starting pitcher Mick VanVossen allowed just two hits until the fifth inning when Jordan Smith led off with an infield single. Like Checky in the previous inning, Smith was able to work himself over to third without a hit, via a stolen base and an MSU error. Tyler Hansen scored Smith a groundout to reclaim the lead for Minnesota, 2-1.
The Gophers pushed their lead to 4-1 in the sixth. A bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Mark Tatera made the score 3-1 and then Smith followed up with an RBI single.
Michigan State fought back in the top of the seventh frame. Consecutive walks to Jimmy Pickens and Ryan Krill to start the inning, and then a double steal, gave MSU runners on second and third with one out. Ryan Richardson took advantage with a single up the middle that plated Pickens, cutting the deficit to 4-2.
The Spartans couldn't get any closer though as Crawford struck out Dan Durkin and then Johnny Nate to end the threat and strand both runners.
MSU had runners on base in both the eighth and ninth innings, but Minnesota's Dalton Sawyer didn't allow anything further, earning his fourth save of the season.
VanVossen went six full innings, allowing four runs off eight hits. With the loss, he is now 4-1.
Pickens was the only Spartan with multiple hits on the day (2-for-2), extending his hitting streak to 10 consecutive games.
The Spartans and Gophers will close the series with a doubleheader tomorrow beginning at 12 p.m. ET.