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Indiana rallies late to defeat Spartans in Big Ten Tournament

May 25, 2012

For the second consecutive day, the MSU baseball team looked like it would breeze its way to an easy victory early on in Big Ten Tournament play on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the Spartans blew a huge lead by allowing seven runs in the final frame to narrowly escape, 10-9, against No. 4-seed Nebraska. MSU struggled to hang onto a lead once again Thursday against No. 2-seed Indiana, as the Hoosiers’ late rally was enough to down the Spartans, 6-4.

“Credit Indiana — they made plays when they needed to make plays and that’s what it takes in a tournament setting,” Boss said after the game.

The Spartans got to work in the second inning after freshman first baseman Ryan Krill was walked with two outs on the board. Krill was scored after the next batter — fellow freshman and designated hitter Blaise Salter blasted a homer over the fence at Huntington Park in Columbus, Ohio., to give MSU a 2-0 advantage.

MSU earned a 3-0 lead immediately after,the very next pitch was sent soaring over the wall for a solo homer by sophomore catcher Joel Fisher.

“I got up there … just knew his pattern (and) was sitting on a changeup, and he threw me one and I got a hold of it.” Fisher said of the back-to-back homers.

After two scoreless at-bats for MSU, Indiana was able to cut the deficit to one-run after scoring two runs in the bottom of the fourth.

With one out in the top of the fifth, the Spartans looked to threaten again as junior second baseman Ryan Jones and senior shortstop Justin Scanlon each reached on singles with the No. 3 hitter — junior left fielder Jordan Keur at the plate.

Keur flew out deep into the outfield, allowing Jones to tag and score from third base. Junior third baseman Torsten Boss then reached on a bunt, but the next batter, junior catcher John Martinez flew out to end the inning, stranding two baserunners and leaving the score at 4-2.

Junior pitcher Andrew Waszak was efficient in his seven-inning outing, tossing five scoreless innings while striking out three and only throwing 73 pitches.

MSU ran into trouble immediately to start the bottom of the eighth, allowing a leadoff double by Indiana’s Justin Cureton. Cureton advanced to third after a Hoosier flyout and was scored on a single by the next batter, Sam Travis, and it was a one-run game once again.

“It was supposed to be a fastball away, and I threw it right down the middle,” Waszack said of Cureton’s double. “Good hitters like that are going to capitalize when you make mistakes.”

The Hoosiers took the first lead of the game two batters later, as Michael Basil’s double to right center field drove home two runs, putting the score at 5-4. Indiana added another run before the end of the inning to end the four-run rally and increasing the final margin to 6-4.

The bases were loaded in the top of the ninth with no outs for the Spartans as they attempted to put together a rally of their own. It would prove worthless, however, as the next three MSU batters were retired in order, ending the game and sending MSU to the consolation bracket.

“It’s a cruel game sometimes — when it goes well you can ride that wave as long as possible, and when it doesn’t it can be tough to get out of it,” Boss said.

MSU will fight to stay alive in the postseason today at 3:35 p.m. against the winner of No. 4-seed Nebraska and No. 6-seed Ohio State.

All Big Ten Tournament games are aired live on Big Ten Network.

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