April 20, 2007
MINNEAPOLIS - The Michigan State baseball team fell to Minnesota, 3-2, Friday night at Siebert Field in the first game of a four-game series. The Spartans fall to 15-14 (6-6 Big Ten) for the season, while the Gophers improve to 23-7 (6-2).
The game was a pitcher's duel between veteran Craig Brookes and Gopher sophomore Tom Buske, who was making just his second start of the season. Unfortunately for Brookes, he came out on the losing end of another close ballgame, although he gave up only three runs, two earned, with two strikeouts on 10 hits in 7.0 innings pitched. Brookes (3-3) was his usual durable self, tossing his seventh quality start of the season (at least six innings pitched and three or fewer earned runs). In Brookes' three hard-luck Big Ten losses, he has given up just seven earned runs combined.
The Spartans gave Brookes a 2-0 lead to work with after scoring twice in the top of the third. Evan Friedland hit a one-out double to right, and scored from second on a error by Gopher first baseman Bryan Jost that put Eli Boike on second. Boike advanced to third on a Dennis Jones single to center, and scored on a Brandon Doherty RBI groundout.
The lead lasted until the bottom of the fourth, as the Gophers tied the game in a wild inning. Mike Mee started things off with a double to left, and Nate Hanson followed with a single to place runners at first and third with no outs. Hanson then went to second on a passed ball before Brookes loaded the bases by hitting Kyle Baran. Derek McCallum delivered with the bases filled with a single to left, scoring Mee. Spartan leftfielder Chris Roberts' errant throw back into the infield on the play sailed to the backstop, allowing Hanson to score an unearned run. With the scored tied at 2 and runners on second and third, Jost hit a grounder to short, and Doherty whipped it to home plate to try and get the runner from third. Walker ran Baran back to the bag, but by that time, two Gophers were standing on third, giving MSU its first out of the inning. The Spartans got out of the rally with a 1-6-3 double play.
Doherty nailed a one-out double to center in the sixth, but the Spartans couldn't capitalize with a runner in scoring position. In the bottom half of the inning, Jost broke the 2-2 tie with a deep solo blast over the right-field fence, his third of the season.
In the eighth, Friedland, who went 2-for-3 with a run, led off with a single to right. The Spartans then crushed back-to-back fly balls to the warning track, but again came up short, and a groundout ended the inning.
A.J. Dunn struck out Minnesota's leading hitter Mike Mee with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth inning, giving MSU some momentum heading into its last at-bat. But there was no comeback in the Spartans on Friday night, as Gopher closer Josh Oslin recorded three straight outs in the top of the ninth for his eighth save of the season. Buske picked up his second win, going 7.1 innings and allowing two runs, one earned, on four hits.
The two teams return to action for a doubleheader Saturday afternoon, with the first game beginning at 3:05 p.m. ET. Both games will be televised live on FSN North.