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Spartans downed 8-2 by Fresno State, eliminated from NCAA Tournament

June 2, 2012

Another Cinderella season has ended for the MSU baseball team.

Despite a strong effort by junior pitcher Andrew Waszak, the Spartans couldn’t overcome a late surge by Fresno State in addition to their own offensive inadequacies — leaving six runners on base on the day — and fell to the Bulldogs, 8-2, in the Palo Alto Regional of the NCAA Tournament.

After being defeated by Pepperdine 6-2 on Friday, the loss eliminates the Spartans from postseason play, effectively their season. The Bulldogs will advance to play the loser of Saturday night’s winner’s bracket game between No. 1-seed Stanford and No. 2-seed Pepperdine.

The loss highlighted several of MSU’s offensive flaws that have been a struggle for much of the season, which hindered the ability to get any momentum in Saturday’s game, head coach Jake Boss Jr. said.

“Well, very disappointing as far as today is concerned. I thought we were capable of playing better, which is probably the most disappointing thing,” Boss said in a statement to Stanford’s athletics department. “ I think we took a lot of tentative swings on positive counts, which is, again, very disappointing. Credit Fresno. They made a couple big plays when they needed to.”

A season after capturing their first Big Ten championship since 1979, the Spartans finish the 2012 campaign with a record of 37-23, including an 13-11 record against Big Ten opponents.

And even as the Spartans failed to secure a single victory in their first NCAA Tournament berth in 33 years, Boss said the losses hurt more because of the quality group of guys on the roster — including six seniors — who will not play together again.

“Obviously losing today hurts right now,” he said. “But in a week or two when we really step back and take a look at things. A lot of credit goes to our senior class. Really, all the credit goes to our senior class. All those guys came in our first year here and they bought in and changed the culture of the program.”

The Bulldogs jumped ahead in the first inning, starting with a two-out double by center fielder Alex Judge. Following Judge in the order, first baseman Trent Garrison singled to center field to score Judge and pull ahead 1-0. Fresno State added another, as designated hitter Kenneth Wise also singled to center field to score Garrison and put the Bulldogs ahead by two.

MSU answered back in the bottom half of the inning to tie the game at two apiece. With the bases loaded and one out in the inning, freshman designated hitter Blaise Salter doubled to left field to score junior right fielder John Martinez and junior second baseman Ryan Jones to tie the game early on.

After a quiet few innings, the Bulldogs proceeded to score five times over the final four innings starting in the sixth to halt any chance for MSU to claw back in the game.

Even an MSU triple play in the top of the eighth couldn’t stop the Bulldogs from tacking on three more in the ninth to pick up the win and advance in the tournament.

Waszak allowed four runs on eight hits over seven innings, but suffered his fourth loss of the season for the Spartans.

“That Michigan State is a heck of a ball club we faced,” Fresno State head coach Mike Batesole said. “They’re physical, they’re fast and they play really neat and clean on defense. They won 37 games for a reason and had a great year. It took everything we had to get them today.”

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