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Baseball drops Big Ten opener against Ohio State, 1-0

March 31, 2012
MSU players gather in the field as head coach Jake Boss Jr. talks at the conclusion of the game on Saturday afternoon at McLane Baseball Stadium at Olds College Field after the team fell to the Buckeyes by 1-0. Justin Wan/The State News
MSU players gather in the field as head coach Jake Boss Jr. talks at the conclusion of the game on Saturday afternoon at McLane Baseball Stadium at Olds College Field after the team fell to the Buckeyes by 1-0. Justin Wan/The State News

Tony Bucciferro hasn’t always had the best luck against Ohio State. Coming into Saturday’s matchup, the senior pitcher had surrendered 22 hits and 13 earned runs in 10.2 innings of work in his last two outings against the Buckeyes.

Even as Bucciferro reversed his fortune Saturday with a nine strikeout performance with just two hits surrendered in eight innings, the MSU baseball team (15-8 overall, 0-1 Big Ten) couldn’t overcome the two walks by his replacement sophomore David Garner in the ninth and were out-dueled by the Buckeyes, 1-0, at McLane Baseball Stadium at Old College Field.

After dropping the first game of the Big Ten schedule, head coach Jake Boss Jr. said the Spartans need to find a way to get the bats going in order not to waste an effort like the one put forth by Bucciferro.

“It’s really too bad,” Boss said. “I told the team after the game, ‘You will not find a better pitching performance out of any guy in the conference all year long than what we got out of Tony Bucciferro today.’ Unfortunately, we couldn’t capitalize.”

The game was scoreless in the bottom of the eighth inning when sophomore catcher Joel Fisher reached base on a throwing error. After a sacrifice bunt by freshman right fielder Jimmy Pickens, the pinch-runner for Fisher, freshman Kevin Goergen, moved up to second base with Justin Scanlon due up.

The senior shortstop Scanlon laced a looping base hit to the outfield that initially was misread by Buckeye left fielder Mike Carroll, but enough so that it stranded Goergen on third with one out in the inning.

But the momentum ended with runners on the corners in the next at-bat, as freshman first baseman Ryan Krill grounded into an inning-ending double play to end the scoring threat for the Spartans.

“The eighth is what it is,” Boss said. “We hit a ball hard but it hit off a pitcher and it ends up in a double play. You know, hit a ball hard to left center that really, our base runner — nothing really he could do. I mean, the ball could have been caught and he has to wait and see if it drops. You can’t get doubled off in that situation.”

With Bucciferro done for the day after the eighth, Garner entered the game looking to shut the Buckeyes down and keep the game scoreless in the ninth. However, Garner walked third baseman Brad Hallberg and first baseman Josh Dezse and was lifted in favor of junior pitcher Trey Popp.

Popp managed to get shortstop Kirby Pellant to ground out before being replaced on the mound by junior Tony Wieber. Wieber allowed an RBI single to the first batter he saw right fielder David Corna before settling down and securing the last two outs heading into the bottom half of the frame.

“David’s got a great arm, you know, and he just gets a little loose in the strike zone, at times,” Boss said. “When you get into a close ballgame and you get into the bullpen, you need to have those guys throwing strikes. It was unfortunate that he walked the first guy and kind of set up the next guy as well.”

Freshman center fielder Anthony Cheky was caught stealing following a leadoff walk in the ninth to force the first out of the inning. The next batter junior shortstop Ryan Jones knocked a single to left field but would not come around to score, as junior left fielder Jordan Keur grounded into a double play to end the game.

The Spartans now are 6-6 in games decided by two runs or less on the season and will be out for redemption tomorrow afternoon in the second game of a three-game series at 1:05 p.m. at McLane Baseball Stadium.

“It’s baseball, that’s gonna happen,” Bucciferro said. “We’ve been on the other side of that and that’s the game. That’s why you love the game. You can do well and not come away with a win. Our team’s gonna bounce back. We’re a fighting team and we’re gonna bounce back.”

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