May 25, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Needing a win to stay alive in the Big Ten Tournament, the Michigan State baseball team defeated Ohio State, 6-2, Friday afternoon in an elimination game at Huntington Park.
The Spartans (37-20) will now play on Saturday at 3:35 p.m. against Indiana, who fell to top-seeded Purdue in the winners bracket on Friday. If the Spartans beat the Hoosiers at 3:35 p.m. on Saturday, they will advance to the championship round, needing two wins against the Boilermakers to claim the tournament title. The first game would be at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.
"We beat a good ballclub, there's no doubt about that," said MSU head coach Jake Boss. "We were fortunate to push a few through there in the middle of the ballgame, and we were able to hang on there at the end. I was extremely happy with how our young guys played today."
Sophomore right-hander David Garner allowed just two runs, one earned, while scattering six hits in 6 1/3 innings to earn the win on a muggy afternoon with temperatures in the high 80s. Garner (6-3) struck out six and walked four in throwing a career-high 114 pitches.
Leading 5-2 in the top of the seventh with one out and runners on first and second, Spartan reliever Bryce Jenney came out of the bullpen and got out of the jam by inducing a 4-6-3 double play.
From there, Jenney shut the door on the Buckeyes in the eighth and ninth to earn his second save of the season.
"David is a very talented young man who has a bright future ahead of him," said Boss. "And Bryce came in and gave us what a senior needs to give us out of the bullpen."
After four scoreless innings, Ohio State (33-27) put two runs on the board in the top of the fifth, but freshman right fielder Jimmy Pickens threw out Ryan Cypret at the plate for the third out of the inning after a run had already scored on the play, limiting the damage for the Spartans.
"To take that momentum out of their dugout and put it into our dugout to change the ballgame at that point was very big," said Pickens.
MSU bounced right back with two runs in the bottom half of the fifth and three in the sixth to take a 5-2 lead.
After leaving seven runners on base the first four innings, the Spartans had another scoring opportunity in the fifth as Justin Scanlon stood on third and Jordan Keur on first with one out. Following a foul pop up, freshman first baseman Ryan Krill had perhaps the most important at-bat of the game, drilling a two-out single to center that finally put MSU on the board.
Krill's hit knocked Buckeye starter Trace Dempsey out of the game, and the next Spartan batter, Pickens, greeted OSU reliever Brett McKinney's first pitch just fair down the right-field line for a double, tying the game at 2.
"We finally got a hit with Ryan, and I think everyone was able to take a deep breath," said Boss. "And Jimmy followed with another hard hit ball. Those young guys played well for us."
In the sixth, Anthony Cheky's speed helped create the first run of the three-run inning. Cheky walked and then went to third on a Ryan Jones single to left - drawing a throw in the process - which allowed Jones to take second. Cheky then scored on a chopper to short, beating out the throw at the plate with a head-first slide. Torsten Boss had a sacrifice fly for the second run of the inning, and Pickens got hit with the bases loaded to make it 5-2.
The Spartans added an insurance run on a Krill RBI single in the eighth. Michigan State collected 11 hits in the game, led by Pickens, who went 3-for-3 with two RBIs and reached base in all five of his at-bats. Keur went 3-for-4 - his seventh game with at least three hits this season - and scored three runs. Krill also reached bases five times with two hits, two walks, and a hit by pitch.
The Buckeyes advanced to play the Spartans by defeating Nebraska in the first game on Friday, 6-2.
Freshman right-hander Mick VanVossen (4-0) will get the start against the Hoosiers on Saturday. MSU fell to Indiana in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday, 6-4.
Michigan State's 37 wins are the third most in program history (41 in 1988; 38 in 2002) . . . David Garner improved to 6-1 as a starter, including 5-0 against Big Ten opponents . . . Ryan Jones now has 90 hits for the season, which is third most in school history (school record: 96 by Brandon Eckerle in 2011) . . . MSU claimed the season series over Ohio State, 3-1.