May 13, 2007
LANSING, Mich. - Freshman outfielder Chris Roberts hit a game-winning, RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning to propel the Michigan State baseball team to a 4-3 victory over Northwestern on Senior Day Sunday afternoon at Oldsmobile Park. The win gives MSU (23-24) the four-game series sweep and keeps the Spartans in contention for a Big Ten Tournament bid with one series left in the regular season. The Spartans, currently in seventh place with a 13-14 conference record, travel to sixth-place Illinois next weekend. The top-six teams in the regular-season standings advance to the Big Ten Tournament, hosted by the regular-season champion.
With the score tied at 3, senior E.J. Daws led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a single up the middle, and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After a flyout, Brandon Doherty was hit by a pitch, placing runners on first and second. Another flyout put two outs on the board for the freshman Roberts, who delivered an 0-1 fastball to right-center, scoring the senior Daws for the game-winning run.
"This win was huge," said Roberts. "(Sean) Walker almost came up with the big hit to win it, we were all pulling for him in the dugout, but his ball just went foul. I then came up with a chance to send the seniors out on a good note, and it feels good to get that game-winning hit. It feels awesome and I'm happy for those guys."
"I was just happy to get a couple of good pitches to hit because they were pitching us tough all weekend," said Daws. "It was exciting, especially on Senior Day with my whole family here. Now we just have to have a good week of practice and get ready for a tough Illinois team next weekend."
Michigan State tied the game at 3 in the bottom of the seventh as Doherty collected a run-scoring single to left field, plating Daws. Doherty went 2-for-3 in the game, while Daws was 2-for-4 with two runs.
The Spartans took a quick lead with two runs in the top of the first, courtesy of a Roberts RBI groundout and a Justin Potes RBI single. The Wildcats (14-36, 5-23 Big Ten) rallied for three runs in the top of the third to take a 3-2 lead, an advantage they would hold onto until the bottom of the seventh.
The three runs in the third were the only runs given up by MSU starter Kyle Corcoran, who gave up 10 hits and struck out three in six innings of action.
Chris Cullen fired two innings of scoreless relief in the seventh and eighth innings, and made a huge defensive play in the top of the eighth. Caleb Fields led off the inning for Northwestern with a single, and advanced to third after a sacrifice bunt and an infield single. With one out and runners first and third, Wildcat head coach Paul Stevens elected for the suicide squeeze play, but Max Mann bunted the ball right to Cullen on the mound, who flipped it to catcher Kyle Day at the plate to retire Fields for the second out of the inning.
Mike Monterey (2-2) pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his second win of the season.
In the series for Michigan State, the bullpen went 12 innings without allowing a single run, and struck out 10 against just one walk.
Steve Gerstenberger went 3-for-5 at the plate for MSU, raising his team-leading batting average to a hefty .353.
The Spartans enter the last week of the season on a hot streak, winners of eight of their last nine games, including seven straight Big Ten play. Michigan State returns to action for a midweek game at Eastern Michigan on Tuesday before traveling to Illinois.