Spartans Fall Short in Series Finale at Illinois, 10-9
May 4, 2014
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - A three-run bottom of the ninth inning gave Illinois a 10-9 victory over the Michigan State baseball team in the series finale on Sunday afternoon in Champaign, Ill. The top-five hitters in the Spartan order all had at least two hits, led by Joel Fisher who went 3-for-3 with four RBIs.
With the Spartans (24-20, 8-10) leading 8-7 entering the ninth, Fisher picked up his fourth RBI of the game with a single through the right side that made the score 9-7.
The Illinois (27-17, 13-5) rally in the bottom half of the ninth started with a single by Will Krug and then reliever Jeff Kinley hit Matthew James with a pitch to put the tying run on base. Kinley got the next two hitters out and was one strike away from ending the game when Reid Roper singled to center field to score Krug and make it a one-run game, 9-8. Casey Fletcher then ended the game with a walk-off single to left center field that scored both runners and gave Illinois a 10-9 win.
Kinley, the Spartans' fourth pitcher of the afternoon, took the loss. He threw the final 2 1/3rd innings, allowing three runs off four hits.
Tyler Jay was one of five Illini pitchers to see action. He worked the final 2 2/3rd innings, giving up one run off four hits with a walk and a strikeout to pick up the win.
The Spartans took a 1-0 lead in the second inning off an RBI groundout by Ryan Richardson, but the Illini scored three in the third to claim its first advantage of the afternoon. A sacrifice fly by Krug and then a Kerian two-out, two-RBI triple made it 3-1.
The Spartans roared back with three runs in the sixth inning and then tacked on four more in the seventh to pull ahead, 8-3.
Blaise Salter got the scoring started in the sixth with an RBI single into center field that scored Cam Gibson. Jimmy Pickens then added an RBI double and a sacrifice fly to left field by Fisher gave MSU back the lead, 4-3.
Salter got things going again for MSU in the seventh, driving in the first of four MSU runs in the inning with an RBI single to left field. An error allowed Pickens to reach base and also permitted Anthony Cheky to score on the play. Fisher's two-RBI double down the right field line upped the MSU advantage to 8-3.
The Spartans' five-run lead quickly vanished however as Illinois scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh to make it 8-7. A bases-loaded, three-RBI triple by David Kerian and then a Reid Roper RBI single got the Illini within a run.
MSU starting pitcher Cam Vieaux tossed six-complete innings, allowing three runs off six hits.
Illinois starter Kevin Duchene lasted just three full innings before being lifted for the first of four relievers.
Michigan State will play a pair of non-conference games this week, traveling to Western Michigan on Tuesday and then hosting Eastern Michigan on Wednesday.
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