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Fernandez Kickstarts Spartan Offense

Baseball splits twin-bill with Penn State.

April 4, 1998

STATE COLLEGE, PA. -- Carlos Fernandez's first collegiate home run, a three-run shot in the second inning, opened the flood gates for Michigan State's offense, as MSU won game two of a doubleheader with Penn State, 13-9. The Spartans dropped game one, 5-3.

Michigan State survived a late Nittany Lion charge in game two to lift its record to 11-13, 2-5 in the conference. Penn State drops to back to the .500 mark overall, as they hold a 13-13, 4-3 slate.

Michigan State head coach Ted Mahan used a vastly revamped lineup in game two, looking to spark a struggling offense against Penn State southpaw Dan McCall (1-2). The strategy worked, as the Spartans rapped out 15 hits as Mike Pisani and Ted Demetral led the charge with three hits apiece.

Tom Hartley, in his first plate appearances since injuring his hand on March 9, responded by knocking in three runs and going two-for-two with a double after coming in the fifth inning as a defensive replacement. Fernandez and Tom Grigg also delivered three RBI. The 13 runs marked the most prolific Spartan scoring output this season.

The Spartans ended a four-game losing streak in game two, as they came to life early in the contest. After stranding two runners in the first, MSU drew first blood in the second. With one down, Pisani sinlgled. Following an Eric Doyle fielders' choice for the second out, Ted Demetral blooped one into left field, just inches inside the foul line to put runners at second and third. Fernandez then promptly brought them home with a blast over the 370-foot sign in left-center on a 3-2 pitch. His first collegiate home run, the junior from East Lansing reached base seven times in nine plate appearances during the doubleheader with four walks, a single, double and home run.

Gary Zsigo (4-2), the Michigan State starting pitcher, was sharp early, keeping the Nittany Lions out of the hit column until the fourth. On the afternoon, the sophomore southpaw fanned ten in 5.2 innings. He now has 46 whiffs in 33.1 innings this season. He struck out the side in both the fourth and fifth frames. In the second game, Zsigo also batted cleanup for the first time in his collegiate career, going one-for-five with a run scored.

MSU added two more in the fifth, as Pisani again got aboard via a McCall base on balls. After stealing second (his sixth steal in six attempts this season), the sophomore scored on a line-drive single to left-center by Demetral. After a Fernandez walk pushed Demetral into scoring position, Mike Wagner knocked him home with a sharp single to left to put MSU up 5-0.

But the flood gates stayed open, as the Spartan offense continued to flow, picking up four more runs in the fifth. Redshirt freshman Scott Colvin, making his first collegiate start at first base, singled sharply through the left side of the infield to open the frame. After Mark Mulder popped out to short, Pisani followed with his second single of the game, putting runners at first and second. Doyle followed with another fielders' choice, leaving runners at the corners with two outs. Ted Demetral delivered with another two-out hit, scoring Steve Crepeau, who came in as a pinch-runner for Colvin. After a walk to Fernandez loaded the bases, Grigg clearing the bags with a double to wall in left, just out of the reach of Penn State's Jeremy Deitrick. With the four runs, MSU posted a 9-0 advantage.

After Penn State scored a run on a pair of two-out hits in the fifth, MSU put two more on the board. Zsigo led off the sixth with a single to left. The ball squirted past Deitrick to the left field wall, allowing Zsigo to advance to third. Tom Hartley, MSU's top hitter last season (.360) stepped to the plate for his first plate appearance since March 7. After getting behind in the count, Hartley slapped a base hit through the right side, scoring Zsigo for MSU's tenth run of the game.

Mulder followed Hartley with a single to left-center to put two runners on for Pisani. The right-hand hitter promptly delivered the Spartans' fourth straight single (Pisani's third hit of the contest), scoring Hartley. But PSU's Joe Martin pitched out of the no-out jam to bring the Nittany Lions up in the home half of the sixth.

Penn State responded, plating eight runs, sending 12 men to the plate. The Nittany Lions banged out seven hits in the inning, including a pair of back-to-back home runs by Scott Boruta and Dan Beers. PSU scored six off of the tiring Zsigo, who pitched very strongly through the first five innings, with a variety of bloop singles.

Finding themselves now only up by two, 11-9, the Spartan offense delivered again, courtesy of Hartley. After Grigg reached on an error by Nittany Lion shortstop Adam Beers, Mike Wagner put two runners aboard with a walk of his own. After Zsigo moved the runners up with a ground ball to first, Hartley knocked in the two Spartan runners with a double down the right-field line to put MSU up 13-9.

Penn State challenged again in the bottom of the seventh (the final frame due to the doubleheader), putting runners at second and third with one down. But Mahan brought in Spartan closer Chris Yens, who slammed the door with a pair of strikeouts. Yens fanned PSU's Eric Spadt and Shawn Fagan looking on a pair of offerings which grazed the outside corner to secure the Spartans' second victory in conference play. It marked Yens' third save of the season.

Penn State won game one, 5-3, as a Nittany Lion three-run outburst in the second inning put PSU up to stay. The contest featured a pair of complete games by the starting pitchers, as Penn State's Dan Goebeler (4-2) gained the victory by only allowing one earned run over seven innings. MSU's Brian Murphy fanned nine more batters in six frames. The senior right-hander is in seventh place on MSU's all-time strikeout list with 173. That leaves him one back of Mickey Knight (1967-69) for sixth place. Murphy can quickly climb the ladder on the whiff chart, as he is just seven Ks shy of third place.

The Spartans got on the board first in game one. Joe Albaugh laced a base hit up the middle with one down. Ryan Leson followed with what looked to be an inning-ending double play ball to second. But Spadt let it roll through his legs, as Albaugh advanced to third. Pisani followed with a slow roller to third, scoring Albaugh on a RBI groundout to put MSU up 1-0.

But PSU responded with three runs in its half of the second. Dan Beers led off with a home run, as Nittany Lion batters followed him with a pair of singles, a walk and a fielders' choice to plate two more to put Penn State up by a deuce.

After Deitrick laced a home run to lead off the fourth for PSU, MSU drew to within one with a pair of tallies in the fifth. Joe Kalczynski led off the frame with a single through the box. He was followed by a looping single to right-center by Demetral to put runners at first and second. After an a line drive single past first base by Fernandez loaded the bases, Grigg laced a line drive to the mitt of PSU third baseman Shawn Fagan. After snaring the liner, Fagan fired to first in an attempt to pick off Fernandez. But his throw sailed over Nittany Lion first sacker Scott Boruta and into the crowd down the first base line, allowing both Kalczynski and Demetral to trot home to put MSU to within one. But Goebler pitched out of a jam, getting two Spartan strikeouts to stall the rally.

PSU added an insurance run in the sixth, as Chris Netwall belted Penn State's third leadoff home run of the contest. A Carlos Fernandez double brought the tying run to the plate with one down in the seventh, but Goebeler got a pair of fly ball outs to finish off the Spartans.

Michigan State and Penn State will lock horns in the series finale on Sunday, as sophomore southpaw Kimya Massey (1-2) takes the hill for MSU.

GAME ONE 
__________________________________
Michigan State     010 020 0 - 3  6  0
Penn State         030 101 x - 5  7  2

MSU: MURPHY and Kalczynski PSU: GOEBELER and Netwall HR: D. Beers, PSU (7) HR: Deitrick, PSU (4) HR: Netwall, PSU (4)

GAME TWO ________________________________________ Michigan State 030 242 2 - 13 15 3 Penn State 000 018 0 - 9 12 2 MSU: ZSIGO, Brandell (6), Yens (7) and Fernandez PSU: McCALL, Russo (4), Martin (6), Fagan (7) and Netwall HR: Fernandez, MSU (1) HR: Boruta, PSU (5) HR: D. Beers, PSU (8)

NOTES: Game two's lineup was radically different from MSU's typical nine. Gary Zsigo, pitcher/designated hitter, hit cleanup against the southpaw Dan McCall. Usual cleanup man, Mark Mulder was moved into the number six hole, the only left-hander left in the lineup. Scott Colvin made his first collegiate start at first base, manning the No. 5 spot in the order. Eric Doyle, a freshman third baseman, came on man the hot corner in only his third start of the 1998 campaign. 13 of MSU's 14 position players saw action game two, with all 14 seeing time in the doubleheader...Gary Zsigo has acted as a band aid for the Spartans, successfully putting losing streaks to an end. The sophomore southpaw is 3-0 following MSU losses...The Spartans' next home action will be on April 7-8, as MSU hosts Oakland University and Detroit Mercy at 3:00 p.m. at Kobs Field...Gary Zsigo is the Big Ten leader in strikeouts per nine innongs. His sweeping curve ball has allowed him to fan 46 in 33.1 innings. With ten Ks in 5.2 innings on Saturday, he now posts a 12.42 Ks per nine innings ratio. But Zsigo also has less than three walks per game, and has better than a 4:1 K/BB ratio...Shortstop Tom Grigg, the senior No. 2 hitter, leads the team with 15 RBI. His high output been due to the production of the bottom of the lineup, especially keystone combination partner, second baseman Ted Demetral. The sophomore leads the squad with a .346 average, as he picked up four more hits in seven at-bats in the twin bill...

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