April 26, 2014
EAST LANSING - A great outing from starting pitcher Justin Alleman and an efficient offensive attack guided the Michigan State baseball team past Northwestern, 7-1, on Saturday afternoon at McLane Baseball Stadium. Alleman allowed just one run off four hits in 7 2/3 innings, while seven different Spartans picked up hits as MSU improved to 23-17 overall and pulled even at .500 in the Big Ten at 7-7.
"Justin was lights-out," said MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. "His stuff is really, really good and when he's in the strike zone consistently, he's tough to hit. He was as good as he's been all year today."
Alleman retired the first eight hitters of the game before issuing a two-out walk in the third. A single and another walk loaded the bases for Northwestern, but Alleman bounced back and kept the game scoreless by striking out Zach Jones.
Ryan Krill, who went 2-for-4 on the day, got the first Spartan hit of the afternoon in the bottom of the third, belting a delivery from Northwestern starting pitcher Brandon Magallones into center field. A walk and then a sacrifice bunt by Justin Hovis gave MSU runners at second and third with one out for Cam Gibson. Gibson sent a high drive to right field that Matt Hopfner camped under, but dropped. Krill easily scored on the play for a 1-0 MSU lead.
It looked like Northwestern (12-27, 4-12) might answer in the top half of the fourth when Scott Heelan led off with a double down the left field line. The next batter, Hopfner, drilled a line drive to shortstop Ryan Richardson who made the catch and then threw to Johnny Nate at second base to double off Heelan. A flyout then ended the inning.
"That was a huge play by Ryan to not only catch the line drive in moving to his right, but to then make a nice throw to second base," said Boss.
The Spartans built on their lead with a sacrifice fly by Joel Fisher in the bottom of the fourth inning and then scored four runs with two outs in the bottom of the fifth, making it 6-0.
Blaise Salter's double just inside the left field line brought in Gibson and Anthony Cheky for a 4-0 MSU lead. A pair of walks kept the inning alive for Fisher, who drove in two more runs with a two-RBI single into right center field to make the score 6-0.
Fisher finished the day with a game-high three RBIs.
"Credit our guys for stringing together a lot of good at-bats. That's what we've been waiting to do and hopefully we broke out of it a bit today and it continues tomorrow," Boss said.
Northwestern broke the shutout bid in the top of the eighth inning on a sacrifice fly by Jones. MSU got the run back though in the bottom of the frame on an RBI single by Nate.
Magallones took the loss for Northwestern, allowing six runs (five earned) off seven hits in five-complete innings.
Jake Lowery finished the game for MSU, tossing the final 1 1/3 innings.
The two teams will meet in the series finale tomorrow at 1:05 p.m. The Spartans will host Military Appreciation Day on Sunday, paying tribute to members of the armed services throughout the game. Special pregame festivities are scheduled to begin at approximately 12:45 p.m.