Friday, May 20, 2022

Spartans need extra innings to down Grizzlies

April 4, 2002
Senior pitcher Keri DeJong winds up during MSU’s 2-1 win against Oakland on Wednesday. The Spartans won on a wild pitch in the bottom of the 10th inning. —

After three hours of play and numerous squandered opportunities, the MSU softball game was decided by one errant pitch.

Scheduled for seven innings, the Spartans found themselves in a 10th-inning pitchers’ duel. With the tiebreaker rule in place - each team starts with a runner on second base starting in the 10th inning - the game was tied at one in the bottom of the 10th.

Junior right fielder Tiffany Wallace stepped to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded. But a wild pitch from Oakland pitcher Jaymie Voss allowed sophomore pitcher Jessica Beech to score the winning run.

“Coach told me to make sure I scored on a wild pitch,” Beech said. “So as soon as I saw it I took off.”

The wild pitch gave the Spartans (13-21 overall, 1-3 Big Ten) a 2-1 win at Old College Field on Wednesday.

MSU trailed the Grizzlies (8-23-1) 1-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning. The Spartans ended the sixth with a bases-loaded ground out.

With only two outs separating MSU from a loss, sophomore left fielder Angel Merren hit a sacrifice fly to score freshman third baseman Brittney Green from third base. Freshman designated player Lauren Pedersen struck out to end the rally and force extra innings.

Not only did Beech score the winning run, but she was the Spartans’ winning pitcher. She improves to 5-5 on the season.

Senior Becky Gray was the starting pitcher for MSU. She went nine innings and recorded 11 strikeouts, five walks and one earned run.

“I just tried to pitch my game,” Gray said. “I just tried to throw it so the defense could get it and they did today.

“I think this is a big win for us, especially going 10 innings and finding a way to win it. I think that‘s great for us.”

The two teams combined to strand 21 runners in the contest.

The Spartans managed only six hits for the game. MSU manager Jacquie Joseph said the team needs to improve offensively.

“I’m disappointed that we didn’t show a little more effort the first six innings,” Joseph said. “We had ample chances to win the game in regulation, but I got to give our kids a lot of credit. They hung in there the whole game and never gave up.

“I’m thrilled with the outcome.”

Oakland started pitcher Jaymie Voss, but she left the game after five innings. Voss returned to finish the game with five strikeouts in eight one-third innings.

“I thought their pitcher did a very nice job, however I didn’t think she posed anything that we had not seen before,” Joseph said.

“I was disappointed we did not put more hits on the board.”

The Grizzlies took the lead in the third inning on a solo home run by third baseman Ericka Burns.

But one run wasn’t enough to prevent the Spartans from getting their second extra-innings game of the season. MSU is now 2-3 in extra-inning games.

The Spartans will play three more nonconference games before returning to Big Ten action on Sunday against Indiana.

MSU hosts Eastern Michigan (8-13) today to make up for its game that was rained out Tuesday.

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