May 21, 2010
Site: Evanston, Ill. (Rocky Miller Park)
Score: Michigan State 2, Northwestern 1
Records: NU (23-30, 12-11 Big Ten), Michigan State (34-18, 11-12 Big Ten)
Next NU Event: Saturday, May 22 -- vs. Michigan State (Rocky Miller Park), 1 p.m.
EVANSTON, Ill. -
One day after Northwestern won a pitchers' duel with Michigan State, the Spartans returned the favor. MSU rallied for solo runs in the eighth and ninth innings to come back and defeat the Wildcats 2-1 in the middle game of a three-game series Friday afternoon at Rocky Miller Park.
A victory would have guaranteed NU a berth in next week's Big Ten tournament. Now the Wildcats must wait until Saturday to either clinch the bid themselves or else get some help from around the league.
Northwestern got runners to second and third with one out in the bottom of the second inning but were unable to cash in against Kurt Wunderlich. However, the Wildcats were able to break through for the game's first run in the third.
With runners on the corners and one away, NU had a runner thrown out at the plate for the second consecutive inning. However, Chris Lashmet lined a rocket right back up the middle to plate Chad Noble from second with the game's first run.
Meanwhile, Francis Brooke settled into a groove after allowing two singles in the first inning. From the second through sixth innings, he allowed just two more singles and faced only one over the minimum.
Michigan State finally got its first man into scoring position against Brooke in the top of the seventh inning. Jonathan Roof opened the inning with a single and stole second with one out. He'd advance to third on a groundout, but Brooke was able to keep him stranded there as center fielder Arby Fields made a nice running catch to end the threat.
As effective as Brooke was, Wunderlich matched his counterpart. The right-hander sat down 12 straight Northwestern batters before the Spartans finally scratched out a run in the top of the eighth.
Following a leadoff single by Brandon Ecklere, a pinch hit single by Jordan Keur gave MSU runners at the corners. The Wildcats then brought on closer Paul Snieder
, but a perfectly executed squeeze bunt by Ryan Jones on the first pitch he saw plated Eckerle from third to tie the game.
Wunderlich retired the first two NU batters in the home half of the eighth before Snieder nearly gave the Wildcats the lead back. Snieder's deep fly to right didn't quite have enough to leave the park, as Eli Boike made the grab for the third out just in front of the fence.
A one-out walk came back to cost Northwestern in the ninth as Chris Roberts drew the free pass and then scored the go-ahead run on a double to left by Boike. Kurtis Frymier pitched a perfect bottom of the ninth to earn his eighth save of the season.
The teams close out their regular season with the series finale beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Be the first to know what's going on with the 'Cats -- Follow @NU_Sports on Twitter and become a fan of Northwestern Athletics on Facebook! Get the latest news, schedule updates, video and interact with NU. For more information on following specific Northwestern teams online, visit our Social Media page!