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Spartans beat Chippewas, continue on 8-game streak

March 28, 2012
Freshman pitcher Mick VanVossen throws a pitch Wednesday afternoon at McLane Baseball Stadium. The Spartans defeated the Central Michigan Chippewas 6-5. Jaclyn McNeal/The State News
Freshman pitcher Mick VanVossen throws a pitch Wednesday afternoon at McLane Baseball Stadium. The Spartans defeated the Central Michigan Chippewas 6-5. Jaclyn McNeal/The State News

Looking at the box score, there’s very little that stands out about Tony Wieber’s ground out in the bottom of the ninth inning. However, it might have been the most significant at-bat of the ballgame between MSU and Central Michigan Wednesday at McLane Baseball Stadium at Kobs Field.

The junior right fielder stepped to the plate in the final frame with the game tied at five and the go-ahead runner junior third baseman Torsten Boss on first. After Boss took second on a steal and Wieber failed twice to bunt him to third, Wieber grounded out to the second baseman. The play moved Boss to third, allowing him to score on the very next at-bat on a sacrifice fly by junior first baseman Jared Hook to carry the MSU over the Chippewas, 6-5.

“If you think about it, that’s a huge at-bat,” Hook said after the game. “First of all, he’s trying to move the run over with a bunt and he gets down 0-2 and can’t get him over. Torsten steals second base, which is a great move. … He battled off three or four pitches and even the last pitch he hit to the right side — it was way outside of the strike zone — but he took it and ran with it. He really set (us) up to win that ballgame.”

Even after a tough game in the field for both squads — the teams combined for seven total errors — head coach Jake Boss Jr. stressed the importance of the Spartans (15-7) winning mid-week games heading into Big Ten season.

With a three-game weekend series at home against Ohio State on deck, the Spartans did just that in getting a pair of wins this week against Bowling Green and CMU and now are winners of eight games in a row and 11 of their last 12.

“We feel like we can win every ball game we play and that’s obviously a good attitude to have,” Jake Boss said. “I don’t think we played particularly well today but, at the same time, when it gets late in the ball game — we’ve played several extra-inning games this year and we’ve had a couple walk-off wins already and I think guys are confident we’ll be able to get it done.”

Saving the bulk of the rotation for the weekend series with the Buckeyes, Jake Boss gave freshman Mick VanVossen his first career start on Wednesday. VanVossen struggled early, walking four batters within the first two innings and allowing right fielder Nick Regnier to score on a sacrifice fly in the first.

Trailing by a run, the Spartans put up a pair of runs in the bottom of the second inning. With Wieber on third and senior shortstop Justin Scanlon on base, senior catcher Andy Johnson singled for his only hit of the afternoon to score Wieber and tie the game at one.

A fielding error by Chippewa shortstop Jordan Dean allowed Scanlon to score and the Spartans to take their first lead of the day.

Despite settling down, VanVossen didn’t get much help from his defense and left the game after 4 and 1/3 innings of work with the Spartans trailing, 5-3. His replacement sophomore Jeff Kinley needed a little offense to finish out the duration of the game against the Chippewas.

The Spartans picked up a run on an RBI single by Scanlon in the fourth and another on a sacrifice fly by Torsten Boss in the fifth to knot up the game and set up the ninth inning walk-off dramatics.

“It’s always exciting to walk off with a win,” Jake Boss said of his team’s win. “As a coach, I’d prefer it’d not be too exciting but, at the same time, Central Michigan is a very good program and they played the game hard.”

The Spartans look to continue their winning ways this weekend against the Buckeyes, with the first of three games starting Friday at 3:05 p.m. at McLane Baseball Stadium.

“It’s big, especially going into the weekend,” senior pitcher Tony Bucciferro said. “Our first conference series. It’s a great win. I think it’s gonna provide an extra little boost for our team and keep building throughout the season. The next game is the most important game, always.”

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