ANN ARBOR, MICH. – For a moment, it was as if MSU Baseball's back-to-back games in Ann Arbor on Sunday couldn't have gone any differently.
For most of the Spartan's second game: One where they led Big Ten powerhouse Michigan 7-0 heading into the bottom of the 9th inning, it definitely looked that way.
Until the outcomes became the same – and Jimmy Obertop punched a ball deep over the right field fence that capped a 8-0 run in the bottom of the 9th inning. The homer walked-off an 8-7 win for the Wolverines as MSU stood stunned and Michigan's dugout sprinted onto the field to celebrate the win that was incredible in its own right as Michigan scored the final two runs with 2 outs on the board.
MSU lost game one of the doubleheader, 7-3, to Illinois.
"When it's winning time, we need guys that are poised and ready to win," MSU baseball head coach Jake Boss Jr. said postgame. "That's from guy one to guy 42, and it's a shame that is the way it ended. Now, we got a lot of guys that say they want the ball but when it comes to it we need to be able to execute. It's a shame the way it ended today ... we pitched it well for eight innings but the games not eight innings long."
The Spartans blew a 7-0 lead after shutting out their in-state rival for eight innings.
"At the end of the day when you get the ball, you have to be able to make pitches, you have to be able to execute and if you don't – you're gonna get up in the eight spot in the bottom of the 9th to lose," Boss Jr. said.
Adam Berghorst was the lone bright spot as Michigan's dugout dumped Gatorade all over Obertop as he rounded third to come on home. The football-baseball dual-sport athlete pitched 5.1 scoreless innings, only giving up three hits.
"What happened in the 9th ... I don't even know if I could put that into words to accurately describe the feeling," Michigan baseball coach Erik Bakich said postgame. "I can just tell you it's the second coolest thing I've personally ever experienced in a Michigan uniform."
This one was a battle.
Michigan walks it off, scoring all 8 runs in the bottom of the 9th capped by a Jimmy Obertop walk-off homer over the right field fence with two outs and a 1-2 count. What a moment for Obertop.
Illinois came out of the gates firing in game one, a complete opposite of what MSU showed against the Wolverines as the Illini scored five runs in the first three innings – and starting pitcher Sam Benschoter was pulled with only 2.1 IP after MSU fell behind 5-0.
Then it continued to go south, MSU fell behind 7-1 in the 5th inning and never made a comeback.
Against Michigan – MSU was 12-of-21 in the batter's box with two outs – which was a major reason the Spartans were able to get a hefty lead against the now 9-2 Wolverines.
"We were better with two outs in game two and game one was kind of, you know, kind of the opposite of that," Boss Jr. said. "I think we got them on in game one, a lot of base runners, but just couldn't get that two-out hit. We were able to do it in game two here ... a lot of good approaches at the plate."
But at the end of the evening, it remains that the shocking comeback in the end of the ballgame takes the cake on an otherwise productive evening for the Spartans, who fell to 5-6 after coming off a win Saturday against Illinois with a 5-4 record.
MSU Baseball will next play on Monday afternoon with a rematch against Michigan set for 4 p.m.
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