May 26, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Michigan State baseball team was eliminated from the Big Ten Tournament after falling to Indiana, 4-3 in 11 innings, Saturday afternoon at Huntington Park. Michael Basil's RBI single in the top of the 11th proved to be the difference as the Hoosiers advanced to the championship round against Purdue.
The Spartans now own a 37-21 overall record and will have to wait until Monday to find out if they will be selected for the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA baseball selection show is set for noon on ESPNU.
"That was a tough one," said MSU head coach Jake Boss. "That's a sad locker room right now. It's a good group of kids, and I hope we get a chance to continue to play together.
"It was a heck of a ballgame. It was a good ballgame to watch, but it's a tough one to come out on the other side."
After both teams scored two runs in the second, the game remained tied all the way until an eventful ninth inning.
With two outs and no one on base, Hoosier third baseman Dustin DeMuth hit a double off the wall in left-center field that knocked Spartan starter Mick VanVossen out of the game. VanVossen produced a solid effort in his first career appearance in the Big Ten Tournament, scattering eight hits in a career-high 8 2/3 innings.
Will Nolden, the eighth hitter in the Hoosier lineup, then came through with his second RBI hit of the game, delivering Spartan reliever Bryce Jenney's first offering to right field for an RBI single that plated DeMuth to give Indiana the 3-2 lead.
The Spartans rallied in the ninth to it at 3 - but missed out on a golden opportunity to win the game.
Following Justin Scanlon's leadoff double, two Hoosier miscues helped push across the tying run for Michigan State. Jordan Keur reached on a fielding error by DeMuth at third, putting runners on first and second with no out for Torsten Boss, who dropped a bunt single. Boss not only reached on the play, but the throw was wild to first, allowing Scanlon to score.
With runners on first and third and no outs, the Hoosiers implemented various defensive strategies to prevent the game-winning run to score - from using five infielders to intentional walks to switching outfielders - and they worked.
Following a John Martinez strikeout, Indiana put Ryan Krill on first, loading the bases for Jimmy Pickens. The freshman right fielder drilled a liner back to the mound off Jonny Hoffman's foot, but Hoffman had plenty of time to get the force at the plate for the second out of the inning.
The Hoosiers then inserted starting pitcher Joey DeNato to left field - their fourth left fielder of the game - with Joel Fisher at the plate. Fisher hit the first pitch he saw to left for what appeared to be the game-winning hit, but DeNato made a diving catch to get Indiana out of the jam.
The Spartans had another opportunity to win it in the 10th, as Anthony Cheky led off with a walk and went to second on a sacrifice bunt, but back-to-back groundouts ended the inning for MSU.
Indiana (32-27) finally broke through in the 11th. Spartan closer Tony Wieber (2-2) walked Micah Johnson to lead off the inning, who then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt before scoring on Basil's RBI single.
"We had our opportunities, but they seemed to make a pitch or make a play when they needed to," said Boss. "And they took advantage of the opportunity they had in the top of the 11th."
Ryan Halstead (4-2) pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings to earn the win for Indiana. Hoosier starter Chad Martin also went into the ninth, allowing just four hits and three runs, two earned.
In the second inning, one play proved costly for the Spartans, as they committed two errors and gave Indiana its first run. With Micah Johnson on second, Dillon Dooney hit a single to right field, but Johnson was held at third; however, Pickens' throw was wild back to the infield, which prompted Johnson to try and score. The Spartans then got Johnson in a rundown on the third-base line, but in trying to get Johnson back to third, VanVossen made an errant toss that went into left field, allowing Johnson to score. Nolden followed with his first RBI single of the game to give IU the 2-0 lead.
The Spartans tied it at 2 in the bottom half of the second on a Krill sacrifice fly and a RBI single by Joel Fisher.
The Spartans finished the Big Ten Tournament with a 2-2 record. MSU defeated Nebraska in the opening round on Wednesday, 10-9, before falling to Indiana in the second round on Thursday, 6-4. In an elimination game on Friday, MSU topped Ohio State, 6-2.