Saturday, December 4, 2021

U splits weekend series with Hoosiers

April 15, 2002
Senior center fielder Chris McCuiston dives back into first base as Indiana first baseman Gibran Hamdan crouches to catch the ball. The Spartans beat Indiana 10-6 Sunday at Kobs Field. —

With a win Sunday, the MSU baseball team salvaged a split in its four-game series with Big Ten leader Indiana at Kobs Field.

The Spartans (22-8 overall, 6-5 Big Ten) started slow Sunday, but outlasted the Hoosiers (26-8, 8-4) 10-6. MSU won Friday’s game 13-6, then dropped Saturday’s doubleheader 1-0 and 8-4.

“It’s a huge win against a very good team,” MSU manager Ted Mahan said. “We were down 4-0 after we got swept yesterday. I think it’s a sign of what our team can do.”

The change in momentum came in the top of the second. With the Hoosiers up 4-0 and nobody out, senior right-hander Pat Gill picked off the first of two Indiana base runners at second base.

“The key to the game is when we were up 4-0 and we got two guys picked off with no one out at second base,” Hoosier manager Bob Morgan said. “From that point on, the momentum shifted to their side and we couldn’t get it back.”

In the bottom of the second inning, MSU posted three runs to close the gap, then took the lead in the fifth on a three-run home run to left-center field by junior catcher Brady Burrill. Burrill finished the day 3-for-5 with three RBIs and a triple short of the cycle.

Indiana tied the game at six in the top of the sixth inning, but junior left fielder Brett Wattles broke the tie with his fourth homer of the season, a 400-foot blast. The shot to left-center field not only juiced up the crowd, but it gave the Spartans the lead for good.

“It was a fastball out and I just went with it,” Wattles said. “I’ve been working on my swing with coach and I just went with it and I got a pretty good piece of it.”

Another three-run homer off the bat of junior second baseman Charlie Braun gave MSU its final runs of the game in the bottom of the seventh inning.

“It was a slider down and in, and I just got the barrel out and pulled it and it went up in the air and over,” Braun said of his first home run. “With that right there, I think we just took the wind out of them and I think that killed them.”

Gill (5-1) picked up the win after one and one-thirds innings of work. Four of his six earned runs came in the games first two frames.

“Coming out in the first inning, I didn’t have my best stuff,” Gill said. “I knew that if I just put some zeros up on the board, our hitters would come through and they did just like they have done all year and luckily I went out and finished strong.”

Senior left-hander Kyle Geswein closed the game for MSU. In two and two-thirds innings, he struck out two and allowed two hits.

“We still could have won three with a break here or there,” Mahan said. “But it was a split with a very good team.”

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