MSU Falls in B1G Opener to Ohio State, 13-6
Gutknecht grand slam, Thomas homer provide MSU offense
March 21, 2014
East Lansing, Mich. - - Michigan State opened its Big Ten season on Friday at Ohio State, as the Buckeyes rallied for 18 hits and posted a 13-6 win over the Spartans. Sarah Gutknecht hit her fourth homer of the year, a grand slam, while Shanin Thomas also hit a solo homer. All three pitchers threw for MSU, with the starter Valerie Kaff suffering the loss, allowing 11 hits and nine runs, all of them earned. The Spartans fall to 7-16 on the year, while OSU is now 13-14. The teams meet again on Saturday in a doubleheader that begins at 1 p.m.
OSU 1B Evelyn Carillo led the Buckeyes with two homers and four hits overall on the day, knocking in three RBI; Taylor Watkins and Cammi Prantl each had three hits, while Keelia Nester added a solo homer. Olivia O'Reilly picked up the win, going 5.1 innings, allowing four runs on just two hits.
The Buckeyes greeted Kaff with five straight hits to lead off the bottom of the fifth inning. Caitlin Conrad smacked a leadoff double to center, and was moved to third on a bunt by Watkins. Jayla Saibene singled to plate Conrad, and Carillo loaded the bases with a single to left. Erika Leonard laced a double into right to put two more runs on the board, and Melaina Saalfeld's sac fly to right plated the fourth run of the inning. After Kaff walked Prantl, she got both Anna Kirk and Nester to ground out to second to end the inning.
In the second, the Buckeyes added four more, putting together four doubles. Carillo singled home the first run of the inning, and Saalfeld's double to right center gave OSU a 6-0 lead, chasing Kaff and bringing classmate Kristina Zalewski in. She was greeted with a two-run double by Prantl, but got Nester on a fielder's choice to get out of the second.
In the top of the third, Destinee Luna picked up a one-out single, and was sacrificed over to second by Reiser. She was stranded at second, however as the Spartans couldn't move her any further along.
The Buckeyes extended their lead to 10-0 lead through four, as Carillo led off the bottom of the inning with a first-pitch homer. Zalewski got the next two batters, but Prantl singled to left to keep the inning alive. Pinch hitter Jesse Machovina doubled to left center to score Prantl, but after walking Meilssa Rennie, Zalewski got out of the jam by getting Conrad to fly out to right.
MSU had its big inning in the top of the fifth. Thomas got the rally going with a one-out homer to center, her third homer of the season. O'Reilly walked Alyssa McBride, and Destinee Luna reached on an error to put runners at first and second. Stephanie Sanders came in as a pinch hitter for Reiser and drew a full-count walk, loading the bases and chasing O'Reilly in favor of Melanie Nichols.
Nichols walked McKinzie Freimuth to plate MSU's second run of the inning, then got Kassidy Kujawa on a fielder's choice to leave the bases loaded for Gutknecht. The freshman sent the first pitch over the left field wall for her first career grand slam, her team-best fourth homer of the season. Ellie Stoffer kept the inning alive with a walk, but Nielsen flew out to end the inning.
The Buckeyes got one back in the bottom of the fifth, as Carillo picked up her fourth hit of the day, a two-out homer to right, to give the home team an 11-6 lead. The Spartans couldn't get anything going in the top of the sixth, bringing the Buckeyes back to the plate.
Kelly Smith came on to pitch for the Spartans in the bottom of the sixth. Prantl got on base with a one-out double to right, and after Machovina flied out to center, Nester sent a 1-2 pitch over the fence in right center to extend OSU's lead to 13-6. Smith walked Conrad on a 3-1 pitch , then Watkins followed with a single to right to put runners at the corners. Smith got Saibene to foul out to end the inning, but MSU was down to its last chances at the plate to try to make up a seven-run deficit.
MSU led off the top of the seventh with a walk to Freimuth, and Kujawa followed with a single to left to give MSU a pair of runners. O'Reilly came back into the circle to relieve Nichols, and she got Gutknecht to ground to third on a fielder's choice, nabbing Freimuth at third. Kujawa got to third on a wild pitch, but O'Reilly got Stoffer to ground out to second to end the game.