April 18, 2017
Box Score | UM3,MSU1
No. 19 Michigan got another strong performance from All-American hurler Megan Betsa (14 strikeouts), and fell 3-1 to the Wolverines in Ann Arbor.
Michigan opened up a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth on a fielder's choice and an error, and MSU got a single from McKenzie Long in thetop of the fifth to immediately cut the deficit in half. A pair of errors led to a third UM run in the fifth for the Wolverines to re-establish the two-run advantage. Both teams tried to add to their lead, but the respective pitchers buckled down and refused to break.
Both teams left double-digit runners - the Spartans stranded 11, while MSU's pitchers left 10 Wolverine batters.
McKenzie Long had two hits for the Spartans, who fell to 21-17 and 5-9 in Big Ten play. Both Natalie Peters and Abby Ramirez had two hits for Michigan (32-9, 12-2), while Betsa went the distance and scattered five hits and issued seven walks in addition to her 14 K's to improve to 18-6 on the season. Bridgette Rainey turned in a strong relief effort, going 2.2 innings and allowing just two hits and one unearned run, striking out four. Starter Kristina Zalewski took the loss (2-6) after allowing five hits and two runs (one earned) in 3.1 innings.
The Spartans are back in action on Wednesday in East Lansing, hosting Toledo at Secchia Stadium at 4 pm. It will be MSU's first home game since April 2.
McKenzie Long went 2-for-3 with a walk
Bridgette Rainey came on in relief and tossed 2.2 innings and allowed just two hits and one run, striking out four. Kristina Zalewski earned the start and went 3.1 innings, scattering five hits and striking out two, allowing two runs (one earned).
"Our pitchers both pitched well enough to win today, but we were also facing an All-American pitcher who isn't going to give you very much, which we knew from last week. Our effort was outstanding, but our execution was the problem. We were always in the game, but didn't necessarily finish - one swing of the bat and it could have been a different game for us. We dont have much time to dwell on it, because we get our first home game back at Secchia Stadium tomorrow."
-- Head Coach Jacquise Joseph
STATS AND STORYLINES
Michigan loaded the bases in the bottom of the second on a pair of base hits by Kelly Christner and Lindsey Montemorano, and Katie Alexander was hit by a pitch. THe Wolverines went to their bench to bring on pinch hitter Aiden Falk, who went 2-for-3 in last week's game. Zalewski got her to strike out, and then Faith Canfield's batted ball hit Alexander in the hole at second base, resulting in an out to get the Spartans out of the jam.
Sarah Gutknecht came up with MSU's first base hit in the top of the fourth inning, and with two out, Lindsey Besson drew a walk to put two on for Lexi White. White worked a full count, but Betsa got her looking at a called third strike to end the inning.
The Wolverines mounted another threat in the bottom of the fourth. An infield single and hit batter put two on for Montemorano, who laid down a sac bunt to advance the runners. Katie Alexander reached on a fielder's choice when Kaitlyn Eveland came home for the play, but the ball got past Besson and allowed both runners to score for a 2-0 UM lead. At that point, Bridgette Rainey came on to replace Zalewski in the circle - she scattered five hits over 3.1 innings, striking out two.
MSU looked to counter immediately in the top of the fifth. Melanie Baccay led off with a single up the middle, and Betsa walked Lea Foerster - her 34th consecutive game reaching base safely - to put two runners on with none out. After Besta got Echols swinging, McKenzie Long laced a single to left to score Baccay and cut the deficit to 2-1.
In the bottom of the fifth, Rainey looked to be cruising, getting two outs around a baserunner reaching on an error. A single to left by Abby Ramirez brought home pinch runner Nikki Wald to make it 3-1, and Rainey then hit Kelly Christner to again put a pair of runners on base for Montemorano. Rainey got her to pop out to shallow center to end the threat.
MSU continued its determined, patient approach, putting two on with one out in the top of the fifth after Besson walked and pinch hitter Kelly Zackrison delivered a single to left center. Baccay advanced the runners with a bunt, bringing Lea Foerster to the plate. The Wolverines issued the intentional walk to MSU's leadoff hitter, and the gamble paid off as Echols worked a full count, but Betsa eventually got her to swing and miss at a third strike to end the MSU threat.
Two hit batters and a fielder's choice gave the Wolverines runners at first and second with one out in the top of the sixth, but Rainey came back and struck out the next two batters to get out of the inning.
Long led off the top of the seventh by legging out an infield single, but Betsa closed the door when she came back to strike out the next three batters to secure the victory.
In the bottom of the first inning, Kristina Zalewski got her 400th career strikeout, getting Amanda Vargas to go down swinging. Zalewski is the fifth pitcher in school history to reach 400 K's. Jessica Beech (2001-04) is the all-time leader with 659, followed by Stacey Smith (408, 1994-97), Becky Gray (407, 1999-02) and Rachel Turney (406, 2005-07).