Late-inning Heroics Send MSU to Extra-inning Victory
May 9, 1998
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Joe Kalczynski's two-out RBI single in the tenth capped a furious Michigan State comeback which propelled the Spartans to a 4-3 victory over Ohio State on Saturday night, the opener of a four-game set in Columbus, Ohio. Trailing 3-0 in the top of the eighth, Michigan State (25-24) pulled within one on a two-out, two-run home run by Mike Wagner, his ninth of the season. The Spartans then tied the score in the ninth on a solo shot by Joe Albaugh, before picking up the victory on Kalczynski's single in the tenth. 3,866 people attended the contest, a new Bill Davis Stadium record, but the host Buckeyes lost to drop their record to 34-14, 15-9. The contest marked MSU's first extra-inning affair of the season.
MSU's Brian Murphy (6-4) battled through 9.1 innings, working his way out of jams with key outs in critical times. He fanned four to move into second place in Michigan State's career strikeout list with 194. Chris Yens, who came on with one-out in the tenth, picked up his seventh save of the campaign, retiring the only two batters he faced. Ohio State's Andy Lee (8-3), who came on in the ninth and surrendered the MSU go-ahead run in the tenth, took the loss.
Murphy, a senior right-hander in his final start in a Spartan uniform, put two runners aboard with one out in each of the first four innings, only to deliver two outs to get out of the situation. But Ohio State finally touched Murphy for two runs in the fifth. After retiring the first two batters, the Buckeyes got a double by Jason Trott followed by a two-run blast by Mike Kremblas as the Buckeyes drew first blood. OSU added a single run in the seventh on back-to-back doubles by Mike Lockwood and Mark Carek. But Murphy stopped the bleeding in the seventh with three straight outs.
MSU's defense kept Murphy in the contest all evening, getting tremendous plays from middle infielders Ted Demetral and Tom Grigg. Demetral, a sophomore second baseman, made a diving grab to his left to open the fourth, while Grigg, a senior shortstop seemed to be everywhere on Saturday. He cleanly fielded all ten chances that came his way, showing incredible range to keep the Buckeyes off the board. Included in that was an unbelievable over-the-shoulder diving catch on a Matt Middleton pop-up with runners-on and two outs in the sixth.
Michigan State came to the plate in the eighth with that 3-0 deficit against Buckeye ace Justin Fry, who had kept the Spartans off the board through seven frames, fanning eight during his time on the hill. But with one down in the eighth, Fry plunked MSU leadoff man Carlos Fernandez in the head. After Fry fanned shortstop Tom Grigg, Mike Wagner drove the right-hander's 3-1 pitch beyond the wall in deep center, pulling the Spartans to within 3-2, marking Wagner's team-leading ninth home run of the season.
After Murphy again worked his magic in the eighth, getting out of a first-and-third jam, MSU came up in its final at bat trailing by one. After a Kalczynski groundout, Albaugh jumped on Fry's first pitch, driving his fastball into deep right-center, clearing the wall for his third four-bagger of the season.
New to extra-innings this season, the Spartans jumped on Buckeye reliever Andy Lee, who came on to retire the side in the ninth, in the tenth frame. With one down, Mike Wagner walked and stole second, his team-leading 11th of the campaign. After a Mark Mulder groundout left MSU with only one out remaining in the tenth, Joe Kalczynski drove Lee's 0-1 toss into left field, as Wagner raced second for the go-ahead run.
Murphy opened the tenth still on the hill. But after a ground-ball out and a single, MSU Head Coach Ted Mahan brought in closer Chris Yens, who has not surrendered a run in the last 10.1 innings. The right-hander responded with his seventh save of the season, retiring the only two batters he faced.
The Spartans and Buckeyes square off for a doubleheader on Sunday in Columbus, as MSU junior southpaw Mark Mulder will seek to break MSU's single-season strikeout mark. With 105, he trails Mel Behney's 1968 mark of 107. Mulder will start game one, with Gary Zsigo following in game two.
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