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MSU beats Ohio State, Wieber sets school career saves record

April 1, 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

Driving in the winning run before earning the save in the same game would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most baseball players.

For Tony Wieber, it’s becoming a regular occurrence.

With the MSU and Ohio State baseball teams knotted at one in the seventh inning Sunday at McLane Baseball Stadium at Old College Field, the junior utility player stepped to the plate and singled through the left side, bringing home junior second baseman Ryan Jones. Two innings later, Wieber took the mound and picked up his 15th career save, making him the all-time leader in program history and giving the Spartans a 2-1 win over Ohio State.

“Hey, not bad,” Wieber said smiling after the game. “As long as we win, I’ll take it.”

Nine days ago, Wieber did nearly the exact same thing, notching the game-winning hit in the eighth inning and earning the save in a 2-1 home win over Oakland on March 23.

But Wieber’s clutch play late came in a much more significant game for MSU (16-8 overall, 1-1 Big Ten) on Sunday. After dropping the Big Ten opener to the Buckeyes (14-11, 2-3) on Saturday, head coach Jake Boss Jr. said Sunday’s win was a crucial one.

“It was a much-needed win, there’s no question,” Boss said. “We’re two games into a 24-game Big Ten race, so it’s early. But at the same time, you want to play well at home, and you have to win your home games.”

Sunday’s game was similar to Saturday’s, in that it was a pitchers duel throughout. MSU scored in the bottom of the first on a single by sophomore catcher Joel Fisher but not again until Wieber’s hit in the seventh.

Meanwhile, Ohio State struggled mightily trying to figure junior right-hander Andrew Waszak, who threw eight innings and gave up just two hits and one earned run.

The Buckeyes’ lone run of the game came on a ground out in the second inning. Waszak never surrendered a hit after that, while allowing four walks and retiring the side in order in three straight innings.

Waszak delivered his quality outing one day after senior Tony Bucciferro also went eight innings and gave up two hits in a 1-0 loss. After the game, Waszak said he had the advantage of some helpful advice watching Bucciferro pitch against the same batters he faced.

“I was just trying to go out there and do what (Bucciferro) did,” Waszak said. “We talked before the game, walked me through each hitter, what to pitch them, when to do it (and) stuff like that.”

It was important for Waszak to have success on the mound as the Spartans once again struggled to execute at the plate, leaving 10 runners stranded and their head coach frustrated.

“It’s a situation offensively right now where it seems whatever we do doesn’t work,” Boss said. “I think guys are pressing maybe a little bit, and we’re trying to do a lot of different things to see what can give us a spark.”

The Spartans will have one more chance to turn things around at the plate against the Buckeyes at 3:05 p.m. on Monday, when they wrap up the home series. The loser will be below .500 in conference play, and Boss said that’s not somewhere his team wants to be, even if there’s plenty of baseball to be played.

“If you want to win the championship, you have to win series,” Boss said. “We’ve given ourselves a chance, and hopefully we can come out and play well (Monday).”

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