May 18, 2007
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Despite jumping out to a 4-0 lead, the Michigan State baseball team fell to Illinois, 6-5, Friday night at Illinois Field. The Illini (29-23, 15-12 Big Ten) bounced back with a three-run homer in the third and scored single runs in the fifth, sixth and eighth innings to take a 6-4 advantage. MSU rallied for a run in the top of the ninth, but Jake Toohey closed the door on the Spartans for his eighth save.
With the loss, the Spartans (23-25, 13-15) remain in seventh place in the Big Ten standings, 1.5 games behind sixth-place Ohio State (14-13). The four-game series resumes Saturday with a doubleheader beginning at 2 p.m. ET.
Five players had two hits apiece for Michigan State, as the Spartans collected 11 in the game. Brandon Doherty and Kyle Day each went 2-for-4 with two RBI, while Steve Gerstenberger went 2-for-4 with two runs. Chris Roberts and Evan Friedland also had two hits for the Green and White.
The Spartans pounced on Illini starter Tanner Roark for four runs and six hits in the first two innings. Gerstenberger led off the game with a single, extending his season-best hitting streak to nine games. Doherty's sacrifice placed Gerstenberger at second, and the junior second baseman came around to score on Day's double that hit the center-field fence. Chris Roberts then delivered MSU's third hit of the inning, but Day was thrown out at the plate on a 9-3-2 relay for the second out of the inning.
Michigan State added three runs in the second, all with two outs, as Gerstenberger hit an RBI double to center and Doherty drilled a two-run single up the middle.
Spartan starter Craig Brookes (4-6) ran into trouble in the third as Mike Rohde crushed a three-run homer past the right-field wall to cut the lead to 4-3. All three runs were unearned, as the Spartans committed a two-out fielding error on a ground ball that would've ended the inning.
Illinois tied the game at 4 as Rohde collected an RBI groundout in the fifth. Rohde had four RBI in the game.
The Illini took a 5-4 lead in the sixth as Kyle Hudson crushed a two-out triple to right-center, plating Joe Bonadonna from first. Illinois scored an insurance run in the eighth, capitalizing on two Spartan errors.
With two outs and no runners on base in the top of the ninth, Doherty ignited the Spartans with a double to left field. The shortstop trimmed the Illini lead to 6-5 as he scored on a Day RBI single through the right side. A groundout ended MSU's rally, however, as Toohey earned his eighth save.
Roark (7-2) took the win for Illinois, giving up four runs on seven hits with four strikeouts in seven innings. Brookes picked up the hard-luck loss, allowing five runs - one earned - on six hits in seven innings.