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Spartans Upset Michigan in Big Ten Quarterfinals

May 12, 2017

Box Score | PDF Box : MSU 5, UM 4 Get Acrobat Reader

WATCH: Highlights vs. MIchigan


Michigan State staged another late-game rally, putting three runs on the board in the top of the seventh inning to upend Big Ten Tournament host and No. 2 seed Michigan, 5-4 on Friday in Ann Arbor.

As big a win as it was for this Spartan team, it was also the 800th career victory for Michigan State head coach Jacquie Joseph. The 2016 NFCA Hall-of-Fame inductee is in her 24th season at Michigan State and 29th season overall as a Division I head coach.

The Spartans turned a two-run deficit into a 5-4 lead, as Lindsey Besson was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame, and then MSU strung together four straight base hits to take the lead - a Kelcey Carrasco single into left tied the game, and Kaitlyn Eveland brought home the go-ahead run.

Bridgette Rainey earned the win in relief, tossing three innings of three-hit ball. Kristina Zalewski went four strong innings in the start, scattering four hits and striking out three. Rainey allowed the two runs in the fifth that allowed the Wolverines to break a 2-2 deadlock, but she didn't allow a base hit in the sixth or seventh innings to close out the win and help her team advance to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals for the first time since 2004 - when a No. 8 seed Spartans team defeated MIchigan in Ann Arbor in the quarterfinals. That 2004 team defeated Northwestern and Illinois to claim the school's lone Big Ten Tournament title.

The Spartans (31-21) got a 3-for-3 day from junior Lea Foerster, who had a double and a pair of singles. Freshman Melanie Baccay also had a pair of hits, and scored twice.

After MSU went up 2-0 in the third inning, the Wolverines plated two in the fourth and two more in the fifth on a Abby Ramirez RBI single to go up 4-2. MSU, which rallied for four runs on Thursday in the sixth inning to down Indiana, came up with the three-spot on Friday to post the win over their archrival Wolverines.

MIchigan won 36 straight home games entering the Big Ten Tournament, and that streak as well as UM's 18-game winning streak in the series both came to an end with the Spartan win today. MSU's last win over the Wolverines was on May 9, 2009. UM had won twice over MSU earlier this season by 5-1 and 3-1 scores in games where pitcher Megan Betsa had double-digit strikeouts in each. Betsa went the distance today, scattering eight hits and striking out six, walking four.

MSU will play Ohio State in Saturday's second semifinal at 3:30 pm on Saturday. The winner of the game advances to the Big Ten Championship game at 6 pm. Both the semifinals and final on Saturday will air live on the Big Ten Network.


  • Lea Foerster went 3-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored.

  • Kelcey Carrasco had the game-tying hit in the top of the seventh, and Kaitlyn Eveland had the RBI single that put the Spartans up 5-4 in the top of the inning.

  • Kristina Zalewski surrendered four hits in her four innings of work, striking out three. Bridgette Rainey came on in the fifth and surrendered the two runs in the bottom of the frame, but struck out


    " I have so much to say about our pitching performance today - both Kristina Zalewski and Bridgette Rainey were just so focused, so much on point and staying within our game plan. Our offense is perhaps the best one I have ever had in my time at MSU, and there is just zero quit in this team. I am so proud, so very happy for what we were able to accomplish today. This team believes in itself, and you can't ask more as a coach than when your team gives it 100% from the first pitch to the last."
    -- Head Coach Jacquie Joseph

    "I am so proud of this team - this is an across-the-board team win, and we have worked so hard. It was time - we wanted to just focus pitch-to-pitch. Today, I wanted to be so focused on going one pitch at a time. We felt that it was our time to beat Michigan. We were focused, and today was a great, great team victory."
    -- Junior Lea Foerster


  • MSU was the team to strike first, stringing together a single by Melanie Baccay and a double by Lea Foerster. Foerster's shot crossed up left fielder Natalie Peters and bounced off the top of the wall in left. Peters got the throw home in time, but catcher Katie Alexander dropped the ball and Baccay scored the opening run, allowing Foerster to go to third on the throw. McKenzie Long's sac fly brought home Foerster for a 2-0 lead.

  • The Wolverines looked to rally in the top of the fourth, getting back-to-back singles from Faith Canfield (to right field) and Aidan Falk (through the left side) to lead off the frame. Zalewski retired Blanco on a ground ball back to the circle for the first out of the inning, putting DP Madison Uden in the batters box with two in scoring position. With the count at 2-2, she fouled off three pitches before putting a fly ball into left for a sac fly that scored Canfield; Lindsey Montemorano fought through a nine-pitch at bat, then sent one up the middle to bring home the pinch runner Nikki Wald and tie the game 2-2.

  • Lindsey Besson led off the fifth inning with a little bloop single into shallow center, but was eliminated on a fielder's choice. That brought up the top of the MSU order - Lea Foerster singled, but the Spartans stranded both runners as Betsa got out of the inning on another fielder's choice and a popup.

  • Kristina Zalewski went the first four innings, scattering four hits and striking out three in allowing two UM runs. Bridgette Rainey came on in the fifth in relief. Rainey got a strikeout to start off her outing, but Kelly Christner followed with a double to left that just eluded the glove of a diving Ebonee Echols - the quick left fielder got up and got the ball in quickly to keep Christner's hit to a double. An infield single by Abby Ramirez put runners on the corners for Faith Canfield, UM's second-leading hitter with a ..394 average. Ramirez stole second to move both runners into scoring postiion, which allowed both to score on Canfield's hit that kissed the left-field line to make it 4-0 UM. Rainey got Richardson on a called strike three, and the Wolverines put a second runner on with two outs thanks to a Spartan miscue that allowed Tera Blanco to reach. Rainey got her third strikeout of the inning to end the frame, limiting the damage.

  • The Spartans came to bat in the top of the seventh desperate for a rally, and got a start when Lindsey Besson was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame. Melanie Baccay looped a fly ball into short left for a base hit, putting two on for Foerster. She laced a single up the right field line to score pinch runner Kelly Zackrison to trim the Wolverine lead to 4-3, still with no outs and runners at the corners. Kelcey Carrasco dropped one into shallow left to score the tying run, and Kaitlyn Eveland followed with a single up the left field line to score Foerster. After Betsa got a strikeout for the second out of the inning, she walked Sarah Gutknecht to load the bases, but retired Lexi White on a fly ball to halt the rally.

  • Lexi White made a sliding catch on Kelly Christner to lead off the bottom of the seventh. and despite walking Abby Ramirez, Rainey remained in control. She got Faith Canfeld on a slow roller to first which was an easy handle for Sarah Gutknecht, and Aiden Falk popped out to third to end the game.

  • Foerster's third-inning double was her 23rd of the season, establishing a new MSU single-season record. The previous standard of 22 was shared by Natalie Furrow (2004) and Keri Lemasters (1997). She also extended her school record number of runs to 65,

  • Besson's fifth-inning single was her third hit against the Wolverines in this season's three games - second behind Lea Foerster, who had three in today's game and four overall in the three games.

  • Kelcey Carrasco's game-tying single in the seventh inning was her first hit against Betsa in three games this season - she was 0-for-10 vs. the Wolverine ace before that at-bat.



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