Feb. 14, 2014
East Lansing, Mich. - - Michigan State dropped a 3-2 heartbreaker to SIU-Edwardsville on Friday afternoon at the Littlewood Classic. A bunt single by Kayla Riggs plated Allison Smiley for the winning run in the bottom half of the ninth inning for the Cougars, who improved to 1-4 on the year.
SIUE pitcher Haley Chambers allowed four hits over nine innings, walking one and striking out 12. Senior Kelly Smith went six innings in the circle for MSU (2-3), as she scattered five hits and struck out three. Valerie Kaff came on in relief for MSU in the seventh and finished the game, taking the loss after throwing 2 1/3 innings, allowing just two hits and walking one. The Spartans left 10 on base in the contest - including seven runners combined in the final five innings.
After four quiet innings for both teams, each side had good opportunities in their halves of the fifth. The Spartans left two on in the top of the frame, as McKinzie Freimuth picked up a bunt single, followed by Lindsey Besson reaching on an error. However, the two runners were stranded after a strikeout by Carly Nielsen, and Destinee Luna flew out to right field to end the MSU threat.
Smiley led off with a single down the right field line, and Rachel Coonrad followed with a single to left - which sent pinch-runner Allison Smiley to second. Smith got Kayla Riggs to pop out to third, and Rebecca Gray flied out to right for the second out of the inning. After a wild pitch advanced the runners to second and third, Smith got Chambers to pop up to Reiser at second to get out of the jam.
McBride led off the top of the sixth with a double to left center; Sarah Gutknecht grounded out to first to advance McBride to third. Kujawa extended her hitting streak to four games with a single to left center, plating McBride and picking up the RBI. Dana Briggs came in to run for the freshman, and advanced to second when Shanin Thomas was hit by a pitch to put two runners on for MSU with just one out. Chambers struck out Stephanie Sanders and Freimuth to limit the Spartans to just one run in the inning.
The Cougars immediately threatened in the bottom half of the sixth, as Chelsea Yankolovich led off with a double, and advanced to third as Jordan LaFave reached base on an error in SIUE's next at-bat. McDavid came to the plate and grounded out to short, but it allowed Yankolovich to score from third to tie the game. Smith got Brittany Toney to pop out to Thomas at third, and then Smiley to ground out to Reiser at second to end the Cougar rally.
Freshman Lindsey Besson led off the top of the seventh for MSU, and hit a 3-2 pitch up the middle for a single, and Reiser followed and reached first on a fielder's choice. Reiser advanced to third as Destinee Luna reached base on an error (the second of the day for the Cougars), then stole second to have runners at second and third with one out for MSU. McBride came to the plate, and despite grounding out to second, she got Reiser home and Luna to third. Gutknecht popped out to end the inning, but MSU got a the go-ahead run to take a 2-1 lead.
Coonrad led off the bottom of the inning by reaching base and advancing to second on an error by McBride, and Valerie Kaff came in to relieve Smith. Smith got Riggs to ground out, but Gray flew out to center, plating Coonrod with the tying run. Chambers flew out to left to end the inning, and the team headed to extras tied at two.
Kujawa led off the eighth for MSU with Gutknecht placed on second; the freshman went down swinging, but reached first on a wild pitch, which also advanced Gutknecht to third. Pinch runner Emma Fernandez, who came on to run for Kujawa, stole second, but Gutknecht was out at home on the double-steal, leaving one on and one out for Shanin Thomas. She flew out to center, and Sanders fouled out to the first baseman to keep the score knotted at two.
Yankolovich led off the bottom of the eighth with a single to right, sending Rachel Keller to third. Yankolovich stole second with LaFave at the plate; and LaFave then reached first on an error to load the bases. Alex McDavid flew out to center with the bases loaded, and McBride threw out Keller at the plate to save a run. Brittany Toney then walked, putting Smiley at the plate with the bases loaded. The second baseman was 2-for-3 on the day, but grounded into a fielder's choice, ending the SIUE threat and sending the game to the ninth.
Sanders began the ninth on base for MSU, with Freimuth at the plate. The first baseman reached on an error, sending Sanders to third. Freimuth stole second, and after Besson went down swinging, Sanders was thrown out at home when trying to score on a wild pitch. Reiser struck out to end the inning. In the bottom half of the ninth, Kelsey Hansen led off for the Cougars by grounding out to third, but Smiley advanced to third on the throw. Riggs put down a bunt single that scored Smiley for the winning run.
MSU has single games each of the next two days. The Spartans will play No. 3 Washington, a College World Series participant a year ago, at 10:15 p.m. ET on Saturday, and will wrap the weekend with a game against defending National Champion No. 11 Oklahoma on Sunday afternoon.
NOTES: Besson finished the day with three hits in MSU's two games. The freshman had her first career multiple-hit game with a pair of singles vs. San Jose State earlier in the day ... Kassidy Kujawa has the team's longest active hitting streak (four games), and contributed an RBI in each game ...