April 2, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State baseball team used an eight-run first inning to defeat Ohio State, 10-5, Monday afternoon at McLane Baseball Stadium. The victory, MSU's 13th in its last 15 games, clinched the series win for the Spartans.
After both teams combined for just four runs in the first two games of the series - a 1-0 win by Ohio State on Saturday, followed by a 2-1 triumph by MSU yesterday - the first inning alone in the finale featured 11 runs and eight hits.
Ohio State (14-12, 2-4 Big Ten) took an early lead with three runs in top half of the first, but MSU bounced back by putting eight up on the board in the bottom half of the inning. The Spartans (17-8, 2-1 Big Ten) sent 12 batters to the plate and collected five hits while knocking out Buckeye starter Brett McKinney.
A day after recording the game-winning hit and becoming MSU's all-time saves leader, Tony Wieber starting the scoring barrage with a bases-loaded, two-run single up the middle, followed by a Joel Fisher RBI single down the left-field line.
After a Ryan Krill sacrifice fly put MSU up 4-3, Ryan Jones delivered his second hit of the inning with a single to left that brought home two runs and ended McKinney's short start in the process. Buckeye reliever John Kuchno came in to face Jordan Keur, and Keur welcomed Kuchno with a two-run double down the left-field line to make it 8-3 in favor of Michigan State. The eight runs were the second-most by the Spartans in an inning this season (11 vs. Miami-Ohio on Feb. 24).
"Our approach was the same, but I thought we did a better job of executing today," said MSU head coach Jake Boss. "We were able to lay off some pitches that were out of the zone, and then we were aggressive on positive counts. Thankfully we were able to turn around the momentum there in the first and put up a big number."
After a tough first, Spartan starter Mike Theodore did give up one more run in the second, but then went on to retire nine batters in a row. Theodore couldn't get out of the fifth, however, and exited the game with the bases loaded and two outs for sophomore lefty Jeff Kinley.
Kinley came through with another impressive performance out of the bullpen, not only getting out of the bases-loaded jam with a flyout, but firing 4 1/3 scoreless innings with a career-high six strikeouts while giving up just two hits. Kinley (4-2) earned his fourth win of the season and has not allowed an earned run in his last four outings, a span of 11 consecutive innings.
With MSU leading 9-5 in the seventh, Kinley allowed a leadoff single to Ryan Cypret, but proceeded to strike out the Buckeye 3-4-5 hitters - Brad Hallberg, Josh Desze and Patrick Porter - to get out of the inning.
"Jeff was really good today," said Boss. "He came in during a big situation for us and got us out of that jam, and did a great job from that point forward. He's a guy that we can extend as we go later in the game - his stuff was as good at the end as it was in the beginning. It was exactly what we needed."
The Spartans made it 10-5 in the bottom of the eighth as Torsten Boss hit a one-out triple and scored on a Wieber double. Wieber was 2-for-5 with three RBIs.
Also leading MSU at the plate was Jones, who went 2-for-5 with two runs and three RBIs, and Justin Scanlon, who had a season-high three hits.
For the Spartans, it marks their first series win over Ohio State since 2007.
"This is big," said Boss on the win. "If you want to win the Big Ten Championship, you have to win as many series as possible. It's tough to sweep - I don't think you go into the weekend thinking you're going to sweep because it's too good of a conference from top to bottom."
Michigan State returns to action Wednesday to face Eastern Michigan in Ypsilanti, Mich., at 6:05 p.m.