May 17, 2017
Box Score | PDF Box: MSU 10, Murray St. 6
Michigan State put together one of its patented late-inning rallies, putting 10 runs on the board in the sixth inning for a 10-6 victory over Murray State in an elimination game in the National Invitational Softball Championship (NISC). WIth the win, MSU (33-23) advances to the regional championship round on Thursday to face host Illinois State. MSU must win twice on Thursday to advance to next week's Championship Round, as the Redbirds won each of their games the last two days.
The Spartans, who held a 6-0 lead over Murray State in Tuesday's game but allowed the Racers to tie the game in regulation and score the winner in the ninth inning, flipped the script from the day before.
MSU couldn't get its bats going early in the game, limited to just three hits over the first five innings. The Spartans made up for it by sending 12 batters to the plate in the sixth inning, rallying for nine hits and 10 runs. Murray State used four pitchers in the frame, as starter Mason Robinson gave up two runs, Amber Van Duyse lasted just one batter and walked in a run, and Thursday winner Haven Campbell came on to give up seven runs, including a moon shot over the left field fence by Kelcey Carrasco that made it 10-6. Robinson came back on and got the final two outs, but the damage had been done.
Starter Bridgette Rainey came back on for a 1-2-3 seventh inning to earn the save after starting and going 3.1 innings where she allowed just two hits, striking out three and walking four; Kristina Zalewski earned the win with 2.2 innings of relief work, scattering five hits.
Lea Foerster and McKenzie Long each went 3-for-4 in the game, while Kaitlyn Eveland was the only other Spartan with multiple base hits (2-for-4). Carrasco's homer was her 11th of the season, good for second on the team.
Brenna Finck was the leader offensively for Murray State, with a 2-for-4 effort at the plate, scoring twice.
Foerster became MSU's all-time doubles leader with her 53rd career double, while Carrasco also added to history with her 11th homer of the season, extending her freshman record.
Lea Foerster was 3-for-4 with two RBI, wile McKenzie Long was also 3-for-4 and scored twice (both inthe sixth inning).
Kaitlyn Eveland was 2-for-4 with an RBI
Bridgette Rainey both started and ended the game, earning the save after a combined 4.1 innings of work, allowing just two hits.
"One of the greatest things about our team is the confidence we have in our offense. We never thought the game was over, never hung our heads, never gave up. We were tenacious, both at the plate and in the circle - this was a team win, thanks to everyone doing their part. Now, we have a big opportunity ahead of us tomorrow - we will get some badly needed rest and take on an Illinois State team that is very talented and has its home crowd behind it".
Head Coach Jacquie Joseph
STATS AND STORYLINES
The Racers got something going in the top of the third. Pinch hitter Maddy Feeney was hit by a pitch, and a sac bunt by Brenna Finck put two runners on. Another bunt (by Kaylee Ranburger) caused a throwing error by the Spartans that allowed Feeney to race home for a 1-0 lead, and a ground ball by Jessica Twaddle brought home a second score, and also served as just the first out of the inning. After a fly ball to center, Rainey walked Cayla Levins to load the bases, bringing shortstop Maggie Glass to the plate with the opportunity to open up the game. She popped it up to Baccay in foul territory just past first base to end the inning.
The Spartans put a pair of runners on in the bottom of the third - Lea Foerster singled up the middle for her second hit of the day, and McKenzie Long laid down a textbook bunt and outran the throw to first. Rogers got the next two batters to strand both Spartan runners.
In the top of the fourth, the Racers looked to add to their lead. Catcher Madison Culver was hit by a pitch, went to second on a wild pitch, then took third on a sacrifice bunt That spelled the end of the day for Bridgette Rainey, and Kristina Zalewski came on and struck out leadoff hitter Brenna Finck, and got a comebacker tot he circle from Ranburger to end the inning.
Murray State added to its lead in the top of the sixth. when reigning OVC Player of the Year Twaddle singled, moved to second on a sac bunt, and then came around to score on a single by Levens. In the sixth, the Racers got some help from a Spartan error - with runners at the corners and one out, a fly ball to right was the first out of the inning, but an errant throw allowed both runners to score for a 6-0 lead.
As they have almost all postseason, the Spartans put together a rally in the sixth inning that sent 12 batters to the plate for a 10-run inning. Long led off with a double to left center, Kelcey Carrasco walked on four pitches, and Eveland stepped in to deliver an RBI single to get MSU on the board. Mason Robinson walked Lexi White, and senior Sarah Gutknecht came to the plate and smacked it through the left side to trim the Murray State lead to 6-2. The Racers made a pitching change, bringing in sophomore Amber Van Duyse. She walked her first batter (Melanie Baccay) to bring home a third run, and the Racers went to pitcher Haven Campbell, who earned the extra-inning win over MSU on Tuesday. Campbell got Besson swinging for the first run of the inning, Echols made it 6-4 with a single into center, bringing up the top of the order for MSU. Foerster ripped a single through the left side to score two, tying the ballgame and bringing up Long for the second time in the inning. She singled, and a throwing error allowed a second run to cross the plate to make it an eight-run inning, and Carrasco capped the scoring with a two-run shot that traveled about 250 feet to cap the 10-run rally.
Starter Bridgette Rainey re-entered in the seventh inning, and sent the Racers down in order on a fly ball to left, strikeout, and grounder to second to end any hope the Racers may have had for a rally of their own.
Lea Foerster's first inning double was the 53rd of her career, establishing a new MSU career record. She also added to her single-season MSU record - it was her 26th of the season.
Carrasco's 11th homer of the year puts her in second place on the team behind Foerster's 14.
MSU's 33rd victory of the season is the most since the 2007 team also won 33; the 2006 team won 34.