April 26, 2014
Michigan State 7, Northwestern 1 |
McLane Baseball Stadium East Lansing, Mich.
Box Score | Box Score
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- After tallying 10 hits or more in each of its last five games, Northwestern's offense was unable to provide similar production as the Wildcats fell to the Michigan State Spartans Saturday, 7-1.
Pitching and defense were the story on both sides through the first two innings. Northwestern's Brandon Magallones retired the first six Spartans he faced in order, while Michigan State's Justin Alleman got the first three Wildcats out before Scott Heelan reached on a throwing error by shortstop Ryan Richardson to lead off the top of the second. NU tried a hit-and-run with Matt Hopfner and the right fielder blistered a ball to center field, but it was caught on a line and Heelan was doubled off at first base.
The Wildcats put together the first serious threat of the game in the top of the third inning, all with two outs. Nick Linne walked and advanced to second base, later, on a passed ball. Luke Dauch's single gave NU runners at the corners and Cody Stevens walked to load the bases, but Alleman reached back and recorded his second strikeout of the inning to keep his opponents off the scoreboard.
As it did on Friday, Michigan State started the scoring on Saturday in the bottom of the third inning. Ryan Krill began the inning by singling to center field for MSU's first hit of the game and Johnny Nate followed by drawing a base on balls. Both runners moved up on a sacrifice bunt and Krill scored the first run of the afternoon on a fly ball that was mishandled by Hopfner in right field. Michigan State could not add on, however, because Magallones struck out Anthony Cheky for the second time in as many at-bats and then got a fly ball that was run down in left-center field by Jack Mitchell for the third out.
Heelan doubled down the left field line to open the top of the fourth, but he was doubled off on a stroke of bad luck. Hopfner hit another smash, but this time it was right to Richardson who made a nice play at short to catch the line drive and toss it to second base before Heelan could dive back to the bag. Heelan's two-bagger extended his hitting streak to nine games (tied with Zach Jones for the team lead) and the redshirt junior has reached base safely in a team-high 14 straight games.
The home team was able to scratch out another run, this one unearned, in the bottom of the fourth. Jimmy Pickens singled off of Magallones to begin the inning and he later advanced to second base on a throwing error. After stealing third base, Pickens scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Joel Fisher.
Michigan State's two-out rally in the bottom of the fifth produced four more runs. Cam Gibson and Cheky both singled and Blaise Salter doubled both runners home to give the Spartans a 4-0 lead. Three batters later, Fisher kept the surge going with a two-run single to right field that blossomed the lead to six runs.
Senior Ethan Bramschreiber relieved Magallones to start the sixth inning. The right-hander surrendered a double, but sent down the next three in order to strand the runner on third and get off the bump with no damage. Bramschreiber retired the side in order for the first time since the second inning as he worked a perfect seventh for the Wildcats.
Dauch got Northwestern on the board in the top of the eighth. The Bloomfield, Hills Mich., native led off the inning with a double, his fourth of the season. He advanced to third on a groundout to the third baseman and scored with on a sacrifice fly from Jones. After Alleman hit Heelan by a pitch, the Spartans turned to Jake Lowery out of the bullpen. Hopfner singled to greet the new pitcher with a base hit through the left side, but Mitchell flew out to left to end the inning.
Michigan State matched Northwestern's run in the home half of the inning. Krill doubled and scored on a single from Nate to set the game's final margin, 7-1. Pinch hitter Walker Moses and Dauch both drew walks in the top of the ninth against Lowery, but the Wildcats were unable to score.
The three-game series will conclude on April 27 with a Sunday matinee at McLane Baseball Stadium. The first pitch between the 'Cats and Spartans is slated for 12:05 p.m. CT and the game will be streamed live on BTDN on Wildcats All-Access.
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