FINAL: MSU baseball powers, then squeezes by Ohio State for the victory, 6-5
It all came down to Buckeyes’ first baseman Zach Ratcliff.
He stepped up to plate with runners on first and second base, looking to tie the game. His team down just one run.
As the crowd came to a roar, it was Ratcliff with the swinging strikeout, preserving the Spartan win, 6-5.
Sophomore righty Riley McCauley flirted with danger as he allowed a homer to Buckeye infielder Jalen Washington to start the ninth, bringing the Buckeyes to within a run. As outfielder Tre’ Gantt doubled to left-center, the comeback effort was officially on.
As the ball zipped by Ratcliff, though, McCauley earned his seventh save as he ultimately struck out the side.
Tallying 14 strikeouts on the day, it was the 10th time this season MSU's pitching staff combined for double-digit punchouts in a game.
Bursting out of the gate, it was all MSU in the opening frame. The Spartans exploded for four total runs in the inning, doubling their total in game one within the first three outs.
A scary scene met McLane Baseball Stadium as senior infielder Dan Durkin lined a ball off of Buckeye starter Jake Post's head. Post walked off the field under his own power but his day came to an end.
Post’s replacement, righty Ryan Feltner, was rudely welcomed to the game as the Spartans were in the midst of four straight hits.
By the time the dust settled, the image of junior infielder Zach McGuire trotting around the bases was all that was left. The Sterling Heights, Mich. native blasted a three-run homer over the right field fence as MSU jumped to a 4-0 lead.
Ohio State, though, retaliated, methodically chipping away at the MSU lead. On the backs of two doubles in the second frame, the home Spartans found their lead halved.
The advantage was split in two again as the Buckeyes added another run in the third inning. By the end of the frame, it was shaping up to be a nailbiter, MSU up just a run, 4-3.
As the Buckeyes looked for their fourth Big Ten win on the season, they continued to rely on Feltner. After the abrupt beginning, Feltner settled in for Ohio State.
However, with just a run separating the two teams for much of the afternoon, it was redshirt-sophomore outfielder Dan Chmielewski to the rescue. Chmielewski put a charge into a long two-run home run over the left field fence, forcing the Spartans to a 6-3 advantage.
The Buckeyes refused to lay low, though, as they continued to push runs across the plate. Buckeye outfielder Dominic Canzone hit a no-doubt solo shot over the right field fence in the following half-frame. As the teams hit the seventh inning stretch, it was a 6-4 Spartan lead.
McCauley then came in with two outs in the eight inning, vying for the save. He failed to slam the door on the Buckeyes, but eventually shut it on them, albeit without struggling first.
While the Spartans would go on to win for Jake Boss Jr.’s team, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the squad.
MSU’s offense struggled at times, striking out 13 times on the day. On the backs of the timely home runs, the Spartans found a way to clinch the series.
The Spartans and Buckeyes will match up for game three of the series on April 16. First pitch is again set for 1:05 p.m. as MSU eyes to sweep its visiting Big Ten foes.