May 17, 2014
STATE COLLEGE, Pennsylvania - The Michigan State baseball team closed its regular season on Saturday by defeating Penn State, 7-6, finishing off a three-game sweep of the Nittany Lions. MSU is now 29-24 overall and 11-13 in the conference and will be the sixth seed in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament, which begins Wednesday in Omaha, Nebraska. MSU will play third-seeded Illinois at 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday at TD Ameritrade Park in its first game of the eight-team, double-elimination tournament.
"I'm really happy with the effort our guys showed this weekend; we did what we came here to do," said MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. "After winning game one yesterday, we knew we were playing for a higher seed and we challenged the team to respond and they did. I'm proud of them for that."
Ryan Richardson went 3-for-4 and scored four of the Spartans' seven runs, including the winning run in the eighth inning.
With the game tied, 6-6, and one out in the top of the eighth inning, Richardson reached on a double. He then stole third and when catcher Alex Farkes' throw was offline and got away from the third baseman, Richardson came home to give MSU a 7-6 lead.
Jeff Kinley earned his third save of the weekend by pitching a 1-2-3 ninth. The save was Kinley's 12th of the season, breaking the MSU single-season saves record of 11 set Mike Ericson in 1990.
"Jeff was really good all weekend. We put him in a few tough situations and he got it done," Boss said.
Penn State scored a pair of runs in each of the first two innings to take an early 4-1 lead.
A balk and a sacrifice fly gave PSU two runs in the first inning, while RBI singles through the middle from Taylor Skerpon and Jim Haley added two more for the Nittany Lions in the second, ending MSU starting pitcher Cam Vieaux's afternoon.
Sandwiched around the pair of two-run innings for PSU was an RBI single by Justin Hovis in the top of the second to get Michigan State on the scoreboard.
Trailing 4-1 in the top of the fourth inning, the Spartans grabbed the lead, scoring four runs off three hits and the help of a costly PSU error. Joel Fisher started the inning with a four-pitch walk and Ryan Krill followed with a double to give MSU runners and second and third. Richardson then struck a ball toward PSU shortstop Jim Haley, who picked up the ball and made an errant throw, allowing both runners to score and Richardson to reach second on the play.
The lead didn't last long as a sacrifice fly by Greg Guers knotted the score at five in the bottom of the fifth inning.
The teams traded runs again in the sixth. A passed ball allowed Richardson to briefly give MSU the lead in the top of the frame, but Colin Keefe came home to tie the game, 6-6, in the bottom of the inning. Keefe scored from third while teammate Sam August was picked off in a rundown between first and second base.
Walter Borkovich took over for Vieaux in the third and tossed four innings in relief, allowing two runs (one earned) off two hits. Anthony Misiewicz struck out three in his two innings of work and allowed just one hit.
Geoff Boylston, one of six Penn State pitchers to see action on Saturday, took the loss.