MSU baseball defeats Illinois in comeback bid to advance in Big Ten Tournament
The MSU baseball team (30-25 overall, 11-13 Big Ten) scored nine runs in the final two innings in an 11-2 comeback win over Illinois to advance in the Big Ten Tournament.
The Spartans will face No. 1 seed Indiana on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Redshirt junior left-hander Jeff Kinley pitched the final 6.1 innings and held the Fighting Illini scoreless.
Illinois scored the the first run of the game at the bottom of the second. Junior outfielder Casey Fletcher doubled down the left field line, and freshman shortstop Ryne Roper singled up the middle to advance Fletcher to third.
Sophomore infielder Ryan Nagle drove Fletcher home with a flyout to left field, giving the Fighting Illini a 1-0 lead.
Sophomore catcher Jimmy Goldstein drove in Will Krug from second base at the bottom of the third to give Ililnois a 2-0 lead.
Redshirt junior infielder Ryan Richardson made a big play to score a run at the top of the fifth, doubling down the left field line, stealing third and advancing home following a throwing error to trim the lead to 2-1.
MSU tied the game at the top of the seventh inning. Senior catcher Joel Fisher singled to center field, and junior first baseman Ryan Krill reached first on fielder's choice to score Fisher, making the score 2-2.
The Spartans took control of the game in the eighth, when eight consecutive MSU players reached base. Junior catcher Blaise Salter hit a double to right center to score sophomore outfielder Cam Gibson and advance junior outfielder Anthony Cheky to third.
Junior outfielder Jimmy Pickens was then walked, loading the bases.
Fisher proceeded to slam a double to left field, clearing the bases for three RBI's and giving MSU a 6-2 lead.
Krill then singled to advance Fisher to third, and Richardson singled to the pitcher to drive in Fisher, making it a 7-2 Spartan advantage.
Kinley pitched a 1-2-3 inning at the bottom of the eighth, continuing his strong relief performance.
The Spartans remained prosperous in the ninth. Fisher hit another RBI double to push the lead to 8-2, scoring Salter. Richardson and Nate went on to hit RBI groundouts, adding to the commanding lead. An RBI single by Cam Gibson capped off a dominating performance by the Spartans.