Feb. 17, 2013
| First Pitch Invitational
| Final Score
|| MSU 7, NU 4
|| NU 1-1, MSU 1-1
| Next NU Event
|| Friday, Feb. 22 at Kansas (Lawrence, Kan.) 3 p.m.
GREENVILLE, S.C.-- A trio of pinch hitters sparked a seventh-inning rally for Northwestern, but the comeback fell short as Michigan State topped the Wildcats, 7-4, in the finale of the First Pitch Invitational at Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C.
The game featured a combined 11 runs, 20 hits and five errors with high skies making it difficult for players on both sides to field the ball cleanly on more than a one occasion.
Both offenses failed to make much noise through the first four innings on a frigid Sunday in the Palmetto State. The Spartans struck first on the scoreboard in the top of the fifth inning. Michigan State scored three times off of Northwestern's Brandon Magallones. As he climbed over 100 pitches on the day, the sophomore was lifted after punching out Jimmy Pickensto collect his fourth strikeout of the game.
Ethan Bramschreiber came on in relief of Magallones and the junior induced a high pop-up that was eventually tracked down by shortstop Trevor Stevens.
After Bramschreiber sent the Spartans down in order in the top of the sixth, NU's offense got its bats going once again. Zach Morton lined a double high off of Fluor Field's Green Monster and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Jack Havey. The next hitter, Colby Everett followed suit and put a sacrifice down the first base line to allow Morton to come home for Northwestern's first run of the game.
Michigan State answered back with three runs once again in the top of the seventh to take a 6-1 lead, but the 'Cats clawed back in their half of the frame with three runs of their own and it was a trio of pinch hitters that set the wheels in motion.
Zach Jones reached safely with his first collegiate hit to start the inning and moved to third base when Reid Hunter doubled to left field. Jones scored on a fielder's choice off the bat of Luke Dauch and both Hunter and Dauch scored on a pinch-hit double into the right field corner off the bat of Jack Mitchell. When the rally ended, NU had trimmed a five-run deficit to two as Michigan State led, 6-4, to open the eighth.
MSU tacked on another run in the top of the ninth, but Northwestern loaded the bases one last time with two outs in the home half. Dauch and Stevens singled before Morton drew a walk from Jeff Kinley. Kinley finally got the save when Morton was forced at second base to end the game.
Morton and Walker Moses each had two hits for the Wildcats Sunday.
NU finished 1-1 at the First Pitch Invitational. The 'Cats beat Miami (Ohio), 8-1, Friday. The Wildcats led Furman, 4-2, in the top of the fifth inning Saturday before that game was cancelled because of snow.
Northwestern continues its nonconference slate with a three-game set against the Kansas Jayhawks next weekend. The Wildcats will open the series in Lawrence, Kan. on Friday, Feb. 22 at 3 p.m. The two teams are also scheduled to play single games both Saturday and Sunday.
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