April 25, 2014
EAST LANSING - The Michigan State baseball team opened its three-game series with Northwestern by picking up a 3-2 win over the Wildcats on Friday afternoon at McLane Baseball Stadium. With MSU leading 3-1 heading into the top of the ninth inning, Northwestern loaded the bases and then pulled within a run off a sacrifice fly. With runners on first and second, closer Jeff Kinley was able to get a ground ball off the bat of Reid Hunter that resulted in a game-ending double play.
Michigan State improved to 22-17 overall and 6-7 in the Big Ten with the win. Northwestern, which came in as winners of seven of its last 10 games, is now 12-26 and 4-11 in conference play.
"Jeff was able to bounce back there and, to his credit, was able to get a fly ball and a double play. We ended up winning it, so I'll take it," said MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr.
The ninth inning started with a walk, single and then what was supposed to be a sacrifice bunt by pinch hitter Antonio Freschet that turned into a fielder's choice. Kinley, who started the ninth, picked up the ball on Freschet's bunt attempt and threw to third in attempt to get the lead runner, but his throw was just late and all three runners were safe.
The next batter, Jack Mitchell, belted a ball to left field on a 1-1 pitch. Left fielder Cam Gibson made the catch and Matt Hopfner, who drew a leadoff walk to start the inning, scored to make it a 3-2 game.
Kinley was then able to induce the ground ball by Hunter that shortstop Ryan Richardson picked up, then stepped on second base and threw to first to end the game.
"That was a good play by Richardson. It was a good play when we needed it," Boss said.
Kinley's save was his eighth of the season.
Michigan State starting pitcher Mick VanVossen went 7 1/3 innings, allowing one run off nine hits. He struck out six and didn't issue a walk in improving to 6-2.
With the game scoreless in the top of the third inning, the Wildcats had a runner on second with one out. The threat was quickly extinguished though when catcher Joel Fisher threw out the runner trying to steal third and VanVossen followed by striking out Cody Stevens for the final out.
The Spartans used the quick turn in momentum to their favor by scoring three runs in the bottom of the third to claim a 3-0 lead.
Ryan Krill doubled to deep right center field and two batters later, Justin Hovis picked an opportune time to hit his second double of the year. Hovis belted a double to left center, bringing in Krill for a 1-0 lead. The next batter, Gibson, made it 2-0 with an RBI single through the left side.
A two-out RBI single into right field by Jimmy Pickens brought in what proved to be the game's deciding run.
The Wildcats got on the board in the sixth as Scott Heelan, who finished the day with a game-high three hits, followed a one-out double with an RBI single into center field.
Anthony Misiewicz took over for VanVossen with a runner on second and one out in the eighth. Misiewicz got a ground ball for the second out and then caught a comebacker off Heelan's bat and tossed it to Krill at first base to get out of the jam.
"Anthony was great," Boss said. "He showed a lot of composure. He made a great play there on a hard-hit ball to get out of the inning."
The Spartans and Wildcats will resume the series tomorrow at McLane Baseball Stadium. First pitch is set for 12:05 p.m.