May 3, 2009
EAST LANSING,Mich. -A two-out, two-run double off the bat of Eric Roof helped the Michigan State baseball team rally to down Penn State, 6-5, Sunday (May 3) at McLane Baseball Stadium and give MSU consecutive Big Ten series sweeps. Having won six-straight conference games, MSU is now 11-7 in the league and 21-24 overall.
"Sweeps are tough and we've been fortunate to sweep three times this year in the conference," said Spartan head coach Jake Boss Jr. "You have to play really well and play consistent baseball all weekend and that's not easy to do. There are a lot of good ballclubs in the league so we are extremely excited about it."
Trailing 4-3 and after putting runners in scoring position in the fifth and sixth innings but failing to take advantage, the Spartans capitalized in the seventh, with two outs, to take a 6-4 lead. With Eckerle on first, PSU reliever Ryan Ignas issued a walk to A.J. Shindler - setting up Chris Roberts with the chance to tie the game. After a lengthy at-bat that saw Roberts foul off several pitches, he delivered his first hit of the day, scoring Eckerle to tie the game. Eric Roof, who entered the at-bat also looking for his first hit of the afternoon, followed with a bases-clearing double to give MSU its first lead of the day, 6-4.
A.J. Dunn came on in relief of starter Tony Bucciferro in the top of the seventh and got a strikeout with two runners on to get out of the inning and worked out of a similar jam in the eighth. After walking the leadoff batter and giving up a single, Dunn got a strikeout, a force out at second base, and a foul pop up to end the inning, surrendering one run to keep the game 6-5.
"I put myself in that position by walking the leadoff man, which is the last thing you want to do coming out of the bullpen," said Dunn. "But I was able to get a strikeout and got some nice plays from the guys in the field."
Dunn retired the side in the ninth - the last two coming via strikeout - to earn his first win of the season.
"You want your leaders to step up in big situations and Eric, Chris and A.J. certainly did that today," Boss said.
With Penn State leading 3-0, a leadoff single by Jeff Holm in the third led to the first Spartan run of the game. Holm moved into scoring position off a balk and ground out and with two outs, Eli Boike doubled down the left field line to bring him in.
Penn State got one run back in the fourth before MSU pulled within one with a two-out rally in the bottom of the frame. Back-to-back singles from Johnny Lee and Jonathan Roof gave Holm a shot at his first RBI of the day and his single through the left side scored the first run of the inning. Bo Felt followed with a deep shot to right field that scored Roof but was thrown out when he tried to stretch it into a double, ending the inning with the Spartans down, 4-3.
The Spartans will have the week off for final exams and return to action on Saturday (May 9) at 1:05 p.m. against Purdue at McLane Baseball Stadium.