Needing only one win to clinch a spot in the Big Ten Tournament title game entering the weekend, MSU baseball season came to an end following a 4-3 loss Saturday and a 7-3 Sunday loss to eventual Big Ten Tournament champions Ohio State University.
The losses left MSU baseball on the outside of the NCAA field once again as the Spartans haven’t reached the field since 2012.
MSU and Ohio State hadn’t met this season until the final two days of the tournament leading to a game chock full of small ball and extra inning heroics by Buckeye left fielder Ronnie Dawson.
Ohio State opened the scoring during Saturday’s game on a ground ball to the right side of the infield giving the Buckeye’s the 1-0 lead heading into the bottom of the second. MSU responded quickly as both designated hitter Chris Simonton and left fielder Marty Bechina reached to start the bottom of the second. Shortstop Kory Young laid down a sacrifice bunt to score Simonton later in the inning.
MSU took a 2-1 lead next inning on a Matt Byars single, scoring first baseman Jordan Zimmerman from second. An RBI groundout by Buckeye catcher Jalen Washington plated the buckeye runner on third and effectively knotted the game up at 2-2.
Ohio State’s Dawson would launch a lead-off home run in the tenth to give the Buckeyes a permanent 3-2 lead; setting the stage for a Sunday morning showdown with the winner grabbing a spot in the title game.
In the play-in game, MSU fell behind 3-0 in the early stages as OSU knocked in two runs in the first inning and plated another in the third. MSU hung three runs on the board in the third behind second baseman Dan Durkin’s two-run double and a Matt Chmielewski single.
But OSU would take the lead in the sixth on an overthrow to third base which allowed the Buckeyes to cross the plate and go out in front 4-3. The Buckeyes tacked on three runs in the seventh inning boosting the lead to 7-3.
Though MSU struggled down the regular season stretch, their Big Ten Tournament run left it two wins shy of the automatic NCAA bid that goes to the Big Ten Tournament’s champion. A low RPI and a highly considered weak non-conference schedule hindered the Spartans chances for an at large bid.
Nebraska and Minnesota join Ohio State as the conference’s representatives in the tournament field.
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