May 7, 2014
EAST LANSING - Leading 5-4 in the bottom of the seventh inning, the MSU baseball team pushed across seven runs and never looked back as it topped Eastern Michigan, 12-4, on Wednesday afternoon at McLane Baseball Stadium. Seven different Spartans had multiple hits, led by Jimmy Pickens and Johnny Nate, who both went 3-for-4.
"We hit a lot of balls hard and had a lot of good at-bats in that seventh inning," said MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. "It was good seventh inning and a good day. To put up 18 hits is pretty good."
Three straight base hits by Pickens, Joel Fisher and Ryan Krill in the bottom of the second inning gave MSU (26-20) its first scoring opportunity of the afternoon. EMU starter Ryan Lavoie put a dent in Spartans' momentum by getting the next batter, Ryan Richardson, to ground into a 6-4-3 double play. The double play brought in a run and then Nate drilled an RBI single through the left side to score Fisher for a 2-0 Spartan lead.
The Eagles (17-30) got a two-out run in the top of the third, but Pickens replied for MSU in the bottom of the inning with a two-run homer. With Blaise Salter on base, Pickens worked the count full and then drove fly ball to left center field that kept carrying and eventually cleared the fence for his fourth home run of the year and 4-1 MSU lead.
Salter upped the Spartans' lead to 5-1 in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI single.
MSU starting pitcher Chase Rihtarchik left after two walks and an error loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the sixth. The Eagles were able to push across three unearned runs in the inning on a two-RBI single by John Rubino and an RBI double by Lee Longo to pull within one, 5-4.
"We got off to a good lead, but I thought we got a little sloppy in that sixth inning and let them back into the game. We knew they were going to continue to compete and they did," Boss said.
After going down in order in the bottom of the sixth, the Spartans reclaimed control of the game for good with their seven-run seventh inning. Richardson and Nate picked up back-to-back RBI singles and Cam Gibson added a two-RBI single to right field. Salter's 20th double of the season brought in another run, while Gibson came home on a wild pitch and Pickens capped the scoring with another RBI single for the final run of the inning and 12-5 Spartan lead.
Pickens finished the game with three RBIs and three runs scored.
Rihtarchik earned his first victory of the season, going 5 2/3 innings. He allowed four runs, but just one earned, off seven hits.
Anthony Misiewicz (1 1/3 innings) and Zak Wilerson (2 innings) combined to hold the Eagles to just one hit over the final 3 1/3 innings.
Lavoie took the loss for the Eagles, allowing three runs off six hits in 2 1/3 innings.
The Spartans will host Nebraska in a three-game set beginning Saturday in their final weekend of home action. Saturday's game will begin at 3:05 p.m., while Sunday's and Monday's contests will begin at 1:05 p.m.