Sunday, June 16, 2024

Baseball team takes step toward Big Ten tourney

April 23, 2001
The Spartan baseball team hosted Northwestern University on Sunday afternoon. The Wildcats jumped out to a 1-0 lead during play at the plate in the top of the first inning. MSU went on to win 6-2.

A two-hour rain delay didn’t put a damper on MSU’s chances for post-season action, as it defeated Northwestern 6-2 Sunday afternoon.

Head coach Ted Mahan said the Spartans - who trailed 1-0 after two innings after a fielding error - were able to respond at the right time and overcome an early deficit.

“Our guys didn’t execute well in the beginning of the game, but were able to find ways to get it done when we needed a late run,” Mahan said. “We had some strong pitching today and that definitely made the difference.”

Freshman pitcher Bryan Gale (7-0) had a career high eight strikeouts and helped MSU (20-20 overall, 6-12 Big Ten) - who has struggled at times in two-out situations - play with more consistency on the defensive end. Gale allowed one earned run the entire game.

The Wildcats (17-24, 6-10) were held to only one run after the delay, which occurred after the fourth inning.

Gale, who wasn’t sure if he was going to see action after the delay, credited much of his success to the solid play of his teammates.

“My body felt pretty tight during the big break in the game,” Gale said. “But I began to loosen up once we started playing again and thought I executed pretty well. We had a lot of guys that helped me out by making a lot of big catches and key plays in the infield.

“We’ve had that kind of play all season, but our problem has been finishing games solid, fortunately we did that today.”

Mahan said he was impressed with Gale’s efforts.

“Bryan showed great poise out there due to the circumstances,” Mahan said. “It can be tough sitting for so long because of a rain delay, but he responded well.”

Junior leftfielder Chris McCuiston connected for a double in the third inning to tie the game at one.

After a lengthy drought, scores from sophomore center Bob Malek in the sixth and eighth innings gave MSU a 3-2 lead. Junior infielder Troy Bergman’s double in the eighth pulled MSU ahead 4-2 and secured the win.

Sophomore infielder Kevin Crews, who found his mark from the plate, recording a team-high three hits, tallied the final run of the game.

With only eight conference games remaining, Mahan said the Spartans will have to win at least six to have a chance to secure one of the six spots in the Big Ten Tournament.

“We had some good signs this weekend that we’re improving,” Mahan said of the series. “With six non-conference games coming up this week, it should help us give some of our guys some rest so that we can try and finish the season strong. It’s going to be tough to qualify for the post-season.”

The Spartans fell to Northwestern 8-4 Friday after the Wildcats scored five runs in the fifth inning and split a double header Saturday, tallying a winning run in the final inning of the first game to win 7-6. Northwestern took game two 11-6.

MSU’s next game is Tuesday against Central Michigan in Mount Pleasant at 3 p.m. The Spartans will host CMU Wednesday and Grand Valley State on Thursday at Lansing’s Oldsmobile Park. Both game times are scheduled for 7 p.m.

Tickets for both games at Oldsmobile Park are free for MSU students, staff and faculty with a valid university ID.

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