Michigan State Sweeps Penn State with 10-5 Victory on Sunday
May 1, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Following a back-and-forth affair through the first six innings of play, Michigan State broke the game open with a four-run rally in the bottom of the seventh as the Spartans completed their sweep of the Penn State baseball team with a 10-5 victory on a warm Sunday afternoon at McLane Stadium.
Similar to Saturday's contest, the Nittany Lions (25-16, 7-8 Big Ten) held a pair of leads, but Michigan State (27-13, 10-5) remained unfazed and stormed back with its seventh-inning surge to sweep the series. With the victory, the Spartans remain in first place in the league standings, while Penn State falls three games behind the top spot.
Holding a 5-4 advantage following a two-run surge in the fourth, PSU starter Mike Franklin held onto that lead in the middle innings after settling down on the hill. Rolling through the lineup, he fired zeros on the board in the fourth, fifth, and sixth before the Spartans solved the southpaw in the seventh.
During the rally, Michigan State opened the inning with three straight singles, including back-to-back bunt base hits. On the third single, an errant throw to first allowed Justin Scanlon to scamper home with the tying run.
With a pair of runners in scoring position, the Spartans continued the rally. Jeff Holm fired a sacrifice fly to right, which broke the deadlock. Later, a beautifully executed squeeze by Tony Wieber and a crushing double by Jared Hook extended MSU's lead to 8-5 entering the final two innings of play.
After Penn State was retired in order in the top of the eighth, Michigan State added two more in the bottom of the frame on back-to-back RBI doubles to pull ahead by five at 10-5. With the outcome all but sealed, reliever Bryce Jenney put an end to the weekend in the ninth despite a pair of hits by Jacobs and Blake Lynd.
Franklin (2-1) suffered his first loss of the season for Penn State, while Tim Simpson (1-1) earned the victory after tossing two innings of scoreless relief for MSU.
In the beginning of the contest, the Lions got off to a strong start. Deegan made an early statement for Penn State after blasting a shot to left center on the very first pitch of the game. Although the MSU centerfielder made a good faith effort and took a few strides towards the fence, he soon stopped and watched as the ball soared well into the trees behind the wall.
Following Deegan's fourth leadoff blast of the season, PSU continued to rally. Montesinos and Steranka lined back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners. Later, after a throwing error allowed Montesinos to score and chased Steranka to third, Jacobs fired an RBI single to right, which capped off the three-run surge.
Setting the tone for a high-scoring affair, Michigan State immediately responded with two in the bottom of the first. Although a double play nearly ended the initial threat, Tony Wieber landed a blow after firing a two-out double to right center, which chased in a pair and pulled the hosts within one at 3-2.
After retiring Penn State in order in the top of the second, MSU evened the game in the bottom half. Joel Fisher led off the inning with a double, advanced to third on a base hit by Justin Scanlon, and came home with the tying run on a sacrifice fly by Brandon Eckerle.
Following another shutdown inning by Andrew Waszak in the top of the third, the Spartans completely erased their early deficit and grabbed the lead with another run in the bottom of the frame. After Torsten Boss singled and swiped second, Hook drove him in with a base hit to right center, which gave the squad a 4-3 advantage.
Trailing for the first time all day, Penn State wasted little time responding. Jacobs and Mario Eramo got things rolling with two phenomenal plate appearances. Both men worked the pitcher and eventually drew matching nine-pitch walks. Following an excellent sacrifice bunt by Michael Glantz, Lynd knotted the game with an RBI groundout to second.
With two outs and a runner on third, Elliot Searer came through next with a clutch base hit. On the first pitch of the at bat, he fired a single through the left side of the infield, which brought home the go-ahead run and gave PSU a 5-4 advantage.
Holding their second lead of the game, the Lions desperately needed to quiet the Spartan attack for the first time all day. Franklin came through as he faced the minimum in the fourth. He benefited from the squad's second double play of the game as Montesinos snared a line drive in right and gunned down Scanlon at first, who wandered a bit too far off the bag after reaching earlier on a single.
One inning later, Franklin continued his strong work in the middle innings. With a pair of ground balls and a pop to left, the southpaw retired the side in order to sustain the one-run lead.
Unfortunately, as Franklin tossed zeros on the board, his counterpart did exactly the same. While taking advantage of some strong defense, Waszak cut through the Lion lineup. He picked up a nice 6-4-3 twin killing in the fifth and received an unbelievable play by Eckerle in the sixth.
Leading the Big Ten in batting, Eckerle showed off his defensive skills as well with an incredible effort. On the play, Eramo smashed a missile to dead centerfield. Immediately, Eckerle turned his back and broke into an all-out sprint towards the fence. After taking a peak over his shoulder, he decided to leave his feet and dive on the warning track. While launching himself directly at the fence, he reached out and extended even further. Unable to see the ball over his shoulder, he blindly swiped and miraculously snagged the ball in his out-stretched glove while crashing down on the dirt.
Following that effort, Eckerle continued his strong play and was at the heart of the squad's four-run rally in the seventh that vaulted the hosts to the victory. Overall, he finished 2-for-4 for MSU, while Ryan Jones, Jared Hook, and Justin Scanlon each tallied three hits.
After taking the next few days off for final exams, Penn State will return to action on Friday when the squad travels to Iowa for a crucial three-game series with the Hawkeyes. The opener kicks off at 7:05 p.m. ET.