May 24, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Second-seeded Indiana used a four-run eighth inning to rally past the Michigan State baseball team, 6-4, in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday afternoon at Huntington Park.
The Spartans (36-20) now drop into the consolation bracket and will play at 3:35 p.m. on Friday against the winner of the Ohio State-Nebraska game, which starts at 12:05 p.m.
Michigan State, the No. 5 seed, led the entire game and was up 4-2 heading into the bottom of the eighth until the Hoosiers (31-27) put together their comeback and won their seventh straight.
"Credit Indiana - they made plays when they needed to make plays," said MSU head coach Jake Boss. "That's what it takes in a tournament setting. It's disappointing on our end. We'll have to come back tomorrow and play, and try to stay alive."
Spartan starter Andrew Waszak was efficient and effective through the first seven innings, giving up just two runs on six hits while throwing only 66 pitches. But he ran into trouble right away in the eighth, as Hoosier leadoff batter Justin Cureton drilled a double to left center and advanced to third on a flyout. Waszak was lifted after Sam Travis' RBI single scored Cureton and cut the Spartan lead to 4-3.
Southpaw Jeff Kinley, who was called on to face left-handed Micah Johnson, gave up an opposite field single to Johnson before striking out Dillon Dooney for the second out of the inning.
The key at-bat came against Michael Basil. With runners on first and second and the count full, Basil delivered a two-run double off the wall in right-center, giving Indiana the 5-4 lead. The Hoosiers added an insurance run on a RBI single by Dustin DeMuth that made it 6-4.
But the Spartans didn't back down in the ninth.
Unfortunately, the Spartans couldn't capitalize on their golden opportunity, as the 2-3-4 hitters in the lineup - Justin Scanlon, Jordan Keur and Torsten Boss - flew out to shallow center, struck out and grounded out, respectively, to end the game.
"We gave ourselves a chance in the ninth, but we just couldn't get a hit when we needed it," Boss said.
Hoffman (8-1) earned the win after tossing 1 1/3 scoreless innings, while Kinley (6-5) suffered the loss.
Waszak was charged with four runs and surrendered eight hits in the no decision.
Indiana starter Joey DeNato threw 134 pitches in 7 2/3 innings and gave up four runs on six hits.
The Spartans got on the board first in the second inning after hitting back-to-back homers for the first time this season. Blaise Salter crushed his third tater of the year with a deep two-run shot that cleared the bleachers in left field, while Fisher followed with a solo blast, also to left, to make it 3-0.
Indiana answered with two runs in the fourth, but the Spartans manufactured a run in the fifth as Ryan Jones singled, went to second on an infield hit, took third on a wild pitch, and scored on a Keur sacrifice fly. The game remained 5-2 until the decisive eighth inning.
Jones and Cheky each collected multi-hit games for the Spartans, who had eight total in the game.