April 1, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - In the second straight pitchers' duel between Michigan State and Ohio State, the Spartans came through in game two of the series Sunday afternoon at McLane Baseball Stadium with a 2-1 victory over the Buckeyes.
Andrew Waszak improved to 3-1 after allowing just one run and two hits in eight innings, while Tony Wieber set MSU's career saves record by closing it out in the ninth. It marked the 15th save of Wieber's career and sixth of the season. Wieber also recorded the game-winning hit with an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh that broke a 1-1 tie.
"It was a good win today," said MSU head coach Jake Boss. "Yesterday was a frustrating day, and it was a little frustrating today at times, but at the end of the day the objective is to win the game, and we were able to do that. We got a big hit and it was a nice job in the ninth by Tony Wieber.
"Tony is a competitor and a winner. For him to set the career saves mark today is really a testament to his hard work. That's who we want to have the ball in his hands (at the end of the game)."
"It's an honor," said Wieber regarding the saves record. "But if it wasn't for Andrew, I wouldn't have had that chance. He pitched incredible for eight innings and shut them down for pretty much most of the game."
The Spartans (16-8, 1-1 Big Ten) have allowed just five hits and two runs in two games to the Buckeyes thus far in the series. Ohio State (14-11, 2-3) claimed game one on Saturday, 1-0. The rubber game of the series will begin at 3:05 p.m. on Monday afternoon at McLane Baseball Stadium.
After getting shut out in the series opener, MSU scored early by manufacturing a run in the bottom of the first. Leadoff batter Ryan Jones starting the inning with a single, stole second, and advanced to third on a groundout. He came home to score on a two-out Joel Fisher RBI single.
Ohio State bounced right back with a run of its own in the second. David Corna led off with a double down the left-field line, was sacrificed to third, and scored on a Patrick Porter RBI groundout. It was the only run Waszak would give up, and the Buckeyes would not have another hit the rest of the way. In fact, Wasak only allowed three more base runners over the next six innings, and he picked one of those runners off at first base.
"Andrew threw very well today," Boss said. "He struggled a little bit through the first couple of innings and then really settled into the ballgame. He was kind of rolling along and we had a decision to make whether to stick with him or not in the ninth. It's good when you have that kind of decision to make because he was throwing so well. I'm really happy for him - that's how he's been all year for us."
"I just tried to do what Tony (Bucciferro) did yesterday and go out there and use the same game plan," said Waszak. "He talked to me before the game...I just tried to let the hitters hit the ball and let the infielders and outfielders do the job for me."
Spartan left fielder Jordan Keur did just that for Waszak, hauling in seven putouts, including two spectacular catches. Keur robbed an extra-base hit from Ryan Cypret in the third inning by crashing into the fence, and also had a diving catch in the fourth to keep Josh Desze off the bases.
The game remained knotted at 1 until the bottom of the seventh. MSU did have runners on first and third with one out in the sixth, but a failed safety squeeze attempt resulted in Fisher getting tagged out at home on the play.
MSU broke through against Buckeye starter Brian King in the seventh, as Jones collected his second hit of the game with a single to left to lead things off. The Spartans then caught a break - and took advantage.
An errant throw by King to first on a pickoff attempt went sailing into the bullpen, placing Jones all the way to third with no outs. Two straight groundouts followed, but Wieber placed his hit perfectly through the left side of the infield to score Jones for the go-ahead run. Wieber and Jones both went 2-for-4 at the plate for MSU.
With his pitch count at 105, Waszak left the game after eight innings, giving way to Wieber. Although Wieber hit Dezse with one out, the Grand Ledge, Mich., native came back on the next batter and induced a 1-6-3 double play to seal the win.
Wieber passed Brad Lamont on the Spartan all-time saves chart, as Lamont produced 14 saves from 1987-90. Wieber had one save as a freshman in 2010, eight last season, and has six so far in 2012.
King (2-3) suffered the loss for the Buckeyes, scattering nine hits while allowing two runs, one earned, in seven innings.
"You always want to give yourself a chance to win the series," said Boss. "If you want to win a championship, you have to win as many series as you can. We've given ourselves an opportunity to do that by winning today, and hopefully we can come out and play well tomorrow. Ohio State is a very good ballclub. We're going to have to play well to beat them."
Live audio of Monday's game will available at SpartanSportsNetwork.com.