Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Season-high 15 runs not enough for Spartans against Eastern Michigan

April 27, 2011

Anyone who enjoys a good old-fashioned pitcher’s duel may want to look away.

There was offense, offense and some more offense in the MSU baseball team’s 17-15 loss to Eastern Michigan in 12 innings Tuesday at McLane Baseball Stadium at Kobs Field.

The Spartans (24-13) blew a 10-run lead and used eight pitchers in the game.

“The bullpen is a problem, it’s been a problem, and if we’re going to win, we need to figure out whose going to get some guys out,” head coach Jake Boss Jr. said. “We haven’t figured that out yet.”

The Spartans exploded out of the gate. MSU scored three runs in the first inning and seven in the second, quickly opening a 10-run lead. All 10 runs were scored with two outs.

Ironically, MSU senior outfielder Brandon Eckerle, who came into the game with a Big Ten-leading .409 average, made two outs in the second inning and went 0-for-7 on the day.

Sophomore second baseman Ryan Jones extended his hitting streak to 26 games when a fierce wind turned what appeared to be a basic fly ball into a double. Jones went 2-for-5 from the plate.

“I always like to get it over early, especially in the last week,” Jones said of extending his hitting streak. “When it happens earlier, the better. Today, I got it in the second and to get another hit was just good.”

But just as the Spartans seemed to be ready to pick up another win against an in-state opponent, the Eagles (25-15) scored four runs before recording an out in the top of the third and had cut MSU’s lead in half by the end of the frame.

MSU sophomore pitcher Andrew Waszak left the game after three innings of work, giving up five runs, four of which were earned.

Each of the Spartans’ next three pitchers — freshman Jeff Kinley, senior Stephen Doty and sophomore Joe Zwierzynski — were unable to get through an entire inning of work as the Eagles sent all nine batters to the plate in the third, fourth and fifth innings and took a 14-13 lead after five innings.

“We had some guys that were given opportunities and didn’t handle them very well,” Boss said.

The Spartans pushed two runs across the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning, but Eastern Michigan tied the game at 15 on a sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth.

In the bottom of the 10th, MSU freshman catcher Joel Fisher hit a ball to left field that was only a few feet from being a game-winning home run. But it hit the top of the fence and Fisher wasn’t able to score in the inning.

With one out in the top of the 12th, Eastern Michigan infielder Lee Longo pinch-hit a one-out, two-run home run to give the Eagles a 17-15 lead.

The Spartans were able to get two runners on and bring the winning run to the plate in the bottom of the inning, but a fielder’s choice ground ball ended the high-scoring affair.

The Spartans were led at the plate by sophomore designated hitter Jared Hook, who went 2-for-5 with four RBIs and two walks, and sophomore outfielder Tony Wieber, who went 4-for-7 with three RBIs.

The Spartans and Eagles will play Wednesday in Ypsilanti, Mich., and MSU will need to get quality innings out of starter Chase Rihtarchik because of the amount of pitchers MSU has used in its past two games.

“We’re going to have to hope our starter gets deep into the game (Wednesday),” Boss said. “We used a ton of guys (Tuesday) and nobody had any success. If our starter can’t get deep into the game (Wednesday), we’ll see what happens.”

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