April 8, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The Michigan State baseball team remained perfect in extra-inning games this season with a 10-8 victory over Michigan in 13 innings Sunday afternoon at Ray Fisher Stadium.
With the game tied at 8 in the top of the 13th, freshman right fielder Jimmy Pickens broke the stalemate with an RBI double to bring home Justin Scanlon; Pickens then scored to make it 10-8 as John Martinez hit an RBI single to center field.
MSU (19-10, 3-3 Big Ten) is now 4-0 in extra-inning games in 2012, including an 11-inning win over Furman on Feb. 25, a 15-inning victory against Seton Hall on March 10, and a 14-inning triumph at Cincinnati on March 17.
"We've got some experience on this ballclub, and we have a lot of character on this ballclub," said MSU head coach Jake Boss, who is now 7-3 against Michigan during his tenure in East Lansing. "We had enough opportunities, and we were finally able to get it done. I thought our young plays played pretty well tonight. It was a good win for us.
"You can't get swept. We were pretty disappointed in the results on Friday and Saturday, and today was a big day. We were going to do everything we could to win the ballgame."
Tony Wieber threw the final 3 2/3 innings without allowing a run to record his first win of the season. He is now 10-0 in his career on the mound.
Down 8-7 in the top of the ninth, MSU rallied as Scanlon hit a one-out single, then went to second after Pickens was hit by a pitch. With two outs, pinch hitter Jared Hook walked to load the bases for Jordan Keur. The Spartan left fielder was hit by a pitch to bring home the tying run, making it 8-8. A groundout ended the inning, but one run was all MSU needed to send the game into extras.
Wieber came into the game in the 10th and got Michigan to leave a runner on second base, and although the Wolverines reached base every inning against Wieber, they couldn't push a run across the plate. Michigan had runners on first and second with one out in the 11th but a flyout and strikeout ended the inning, while in the 12th, runners were stranded on first and second.
MSU caught a break and took advantage of a Wolverine miscue to finally break through in the 13th. With one out, Scanlon hit an apparent pop up to second base, but the windy conditions in Ann Arbor made a routine play much more difficult, and Wolverine second baseman Kevin Krantz dropped the ball, putting Scanlon on second base.
Pickens made the Wolverines pay with a double on the next pitch to score Scanlon. It was Pickens' second big hit of the game, as he hit a solo homer to left field in the top of the seventh that tied it at 7.
"Jimmy is starting to feel comfortable, which is a good sign for us," said Boss. "He's an outstanding player and a very good hitter. I think he is starting to settle in a little bit, and you saw the results late in the ballgame."
Martinez added an insurance run with a pinch hit, RBI single to center field, giving MSU a 10-8 advantage.
Wieber did allow a base hit in the 13th, but escaped without further damage. It marked Wieber's longest outing since pitching four innings in a start last season against Miami-Ohio on March 9.
"Tony is the best guy we have out of our bullpen," said Boss. "We were going to win or lose with him. We haven't extended him like that all season, but he was fantastic today."
The game featured a combined 39 players and lasted four hours and 22 minutes. The Spartans collected 17 hits in the game, led by Ryan Jones, who went 4-for-5 with two RBIs. Keur, Pickens, Torsten Boss and Blaise Salter each had two hits.
In a back-and-forth affair, Michigan scored a run in the bottom of the 8th on a two-out single by Will Drake off of Spartan reliever David Garner that made it 8-7 before MSU tied it at 8 in the ninth.
The Spartans started the scoring early, plating two runs in the top of the first inning on a Boss two-run double down the right-field line to bring home Keur and Jones. Keur led off the game with a double to left field.
MSU extended its lead to 3-0 as Jones hit an RBI single in the second. Michigan tied it at 3 in the bottom half of the second as Zach Zott cleared the bases with a three RBI triple to right center.
The Spartans quickly regained the lead in the top of the third, 4-3. Joel Fisher led off with a double and was driven home on the next pitch by a Ryan Krill RBI single up the middle. Once again, the Wolverines bounced right back with a solo homer off the bat of Coley Crank - his seventh of the season - that knotted it back up at 4.
MSU manufactured a run in the fifth to reclaim the lead, 5-4. Keur reached first on a two-out walk, moved to second on a single, went to third after a pitch hit Boss, and scored on a wild pitch.
A sacrifice fly from Jones in the sixth plated Anthony Cheky, who led off the inning with a single, to make it 6-4 in favor of Michigan State.
Michigan erased the two-run deficit with one swing of the bat as Crank cleared the bases on a two-out, full-count pitch that he drove to left-center field for a single that brought home three runs, putting the Wolverines in front, 7-6.
With the Spartans trailing for the first time in the game, Pickens hit a solo homer over the 26-foot left-field wall in the top of the seventh to tie it once more at 7.
Michigan State returns to action Tuesday, April 10 to host Notre Dame at McLane Baseball Stadium. First pitch will be at 3:05 p.m.