May 16, 2014
STATE COLLEGE, Pennsylvania - The Michigan State baseball team traveled to Penn State needing just one victory in its final regular season series to clinch a spot in next week's Big Ten Tournament. The Spartans got what they came for on Friday, sweeping both games of a doubleheader by scores of 4-2 and 4-1 at PSU's Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
The Spartans (28-24, 10-13) took game one behind a strong outing from starting pitcher Mick VanVossen, who held Penn State scoreless in his 7 2/3 innings of work, allowing five hits. He struck out five batters in earning his seventh win of the season.
Ryan Richardson sparked the Spartan offense in game one, going 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a pair of stolen bases.
Jeff Kinley picked up saves in both games, giving him 11 on the season.
"Two good wins today for us. I thought our guys played pretty well, which was encouraging," said MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. "We're happy to get back into the Big Ten tournament and see what happens. We're playing for a seed now, so tomorrow's game is big."
The Spartans broke open the scoreless game one in the top of the fifth. Jimmy Pickens led off with a single and Ryan Krill was hit by a pitch to give MSU a pair of base runners for the first time in the game. A double steal moved the pair each a base closer to scoring and Richardson made sure they did exactly that, drilling a two-RBI single into center field for a 2-0 lead.
Pickens extended the Spartans' lead in the top of the sixth with a two-out solo blast to right center field. The home run was Pickens' fifth of the season.
Richardson helped the Spartans manufacture a run in the top of the seventh when he reached on a one-out single and proceeded to steal second and third base. Johnny Nate's sacrifice fly to right field scored Richardson to give MSU a 4-0 lead.
VanVossen faced the minimum in two frames and didn't let more than one batter reach in an inning until two outs in the eighth when he issued a walk and then gave up a single.
Jake Lowery got the final out of the eighth inning but ran into some trouble to start the ninth. Greg Guers homered to lead off the bottom of the ninth and then a walk and single gave the Nittany Lions runners on first and second with no outs.
Jeff Kinley replaced Lowery and after giving up a base hit to the first hitter he faced, the closer yielded a sacrifice fly Ryky Smith to score a run and make it a 4-2 game. Kinley got each of the next two hitters to fly out, ending the game and giving him his 10th save of the season.
The Nittany Lions took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning of game two on a two-out RBI double by Smith.
Cam Gibson helped MSU gain the lead in the top of the third, leading off the inning with a double - his first of three hits in the game. Anthony Cheky followed with a single and then stole second to set the table for Salter, who came through with a two-RBI single up the middle.
Salter scored later in the inning on a sacrifice fly by Fisher to give MSU a 3-1 lead.
The scene repeated itself again in the fifth as after Salter reached on an error, Fisher later scored him with another sacrifice fly to make it 4-1.
Alleman retired six of the last seven hitters he faced, including striking out the final hitter of the seventh, Sam August.
Joe Mockbee pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, but left after issuing a leadoff walk to start the ninth. Kinley replaced Mockbee and after walking the first batter he faced, he struck out the next three to earn his second save of the day and 11th of the season.
"Jeff really did what a veteran closer should do," Boss said. "He came in and threw strikes and answered the bell. Hopefully our young guys can learn something from what he did today because he was really strong."
Gibson finished game two a home run short of the cycle, registering a base hit, double and triple.
Penn State starting pitchers, Tim Dunn (game one) and Nick Hedge (game two), both took losses.
The two teams will close the regular season tomorrow with a single game beginning at 12 p.m.