ANN ARBOR, Mich. â€“ On a chilly Friday afternoon with temperatures in the low 30s, the Michigan State baseball team defeated Michigan at Ray Fisher Stadium, 9-3, in a non-conference contest.
Sophomore right fielder Torsten Boss and senior first baseman Jeff Holm led the way for the Spartans (13-5) at the plate as each collected three hits, while junior shortstop Justin Scanlon drove in a season-high three runs.Â Â
Senior right-hander Kurt Wunderlich improved to 4-1 on the mound after striking out six and scattering seven hits in his 6.0 innings of action.
â€œI think our guys showed some character today,â€ said Michigan State head coach Jake Boss, who improved to 4-1 against Michigan in his Spartan coaching career. â€œWe got down early, weathered the storm a little bit, and we just tried to stay with the plan offensively and fortunately it worked out. Our guys arenâ€™t going to quit, theyâ€™re competitors. I was pleased with how we played today overall.â€
After MSU scored the gameâ€™s first run in the second on a RBI groundout by Scanlon, the Wolverines (6-13) responded by scoring all three of their runs in the bottom of the inning off Wunderlich to go up, 3-1.
Michigan State bounced back and tied the game at 3 in the top of the third. The Spartans capitalized on a Wolverine error to score two unearned runs with two outs in the inning. With Brandon Eckerle on first and two down, the Spartans put the next four runners on base, as Boss singled, Holm was hit by a pitch, and Ryan Jones walked with the bases loaded. Scanlon then collected his second RBI of the game by hitting a single to right field that plated Boss.
The Spartans took the lead for good in the sixth, again taking advantage of Wolverine miscues. Scanlon reached on catcherâ€™s interference, advanced to second on a passed ball, and scored on a Jared Hook single to right field to make it 4-3.
â€œWe try to put pressure on defenses and force those guys to make plays,â€ Boss said. â€œThatâ€™s what we try to do offensively. We were able to take some extra bases and thatâ€™s what itâ€™s going to take in order to beat a good ballclub.â€
In his last inning, Wunderlich got out of a jam in the bottom of the sixth. He walked the first batter on four pitches, but got the next two batters to pop out; however, he allowed a two-out single to Kevin Krantz that put runners on first and third. With his pitch count over 100, Wunderlich battled against Wolverine leadoff hitter Patrick Biondi and struck him out swinging to end the scoring threat.
â€œI thought that was the biggest out of the game,â€ Boss said.
MSU fed off the momentum from that big strikeout to put the game away with two runs in the seventh and three in the eighth, building a commanding a 9-3 lead. Jones had an RBI single in the seventh and Scanlon came up with his third RBI on a sacrifice bunt that scored Boss.
In the eighth, Boss drove in two of his three RBIs with a single up the middle, and later scored on a Holm double and an error by the Wolverine left fielder.
Tony Wieber pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Wunderlich, followed by a perfect ninth from Tim Simpson.
Michigan starter Tyler Mills (1-2) took the loss as he allowed four runs, one earned, on six hits in 5.1 innings.
The three-game weekend series between the Spartans and Wolverines are all non-conference games. The two teams were left of the Big Ten scheduling rotation in 2010 and 2011.
Game two of the series will be Opening Day for Michigan State as the Spartans host the Wolverines at McLane Baseball Stadium Saturday at 1:05 p.m.