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Sunday, Feb. 25
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

Hoosiers swept in series by Spartans in walk-off

EAST LANSING, Mich. — The Spartans mobbed first baseman Ryan Krill halfway between first and second base. The pile extended into foul ground in shallow right field as Michigan State celebrated his game-winning single. A single that fell just in front of diving left fielder Chris Sujka. For the third consecutive game, the Spartans won in walk-off fashion, this time a 6-5 triumph Sunday afternoon at Kobs Field at McLane Baseball Stadium.

They swept the series against the No. 13 Hoosiers (26-7, 8-4), the first sweep since Illinois dispatched them three times in 2011 to end the Hoosiers’ season.

“It’s tough, especially when you’re one pitch away, really, from winning in the ninth,” MSU Coach Jake Boss, Jr., said. “They string a couple good at-bats together, and we get out of a jam. Then we show some character in coming back. ... (I’m) just really proud of these guys, the effort that they showed all weekend was just tremendous against an outstanding ball club.”

Senior shortstop Michael Basil drew the Hoosiers even in the top of the ninth. With two men retired, sophomore first baseman Sam Travis and sophomore designated hitter Scott Donley hit successive singles. Basil, the next hitter, fouled off two pitches to fall behind 1-2. Spartans relief pitcher Anthony Misiewicz threw two consecutive pitches outside the zone, and Basil laid off to run the count full. He fouled off one pitch, and the Cincinnati, Ohio, native stroked the seventh pitch of the bat, a fastball, into right field. Jimmy Pickens dove, but too late, as pinch runner Trace Knoblauch scored from first.

Basil said he knew off the bat Pickens wouldn’t make the play.

“When I hit it, I thought it was down,” he said. “He ended up getting closer than I originally thought.”

Errors and an inability to produce with runners in scoring position caused IU to fall behind early. They finished 2-for-9 in such situations.

The Hoosiers struck first in the second inning, as freshman second baseman Nick Ramos notched his eighth RBI on a sacrifice fly to left.

In the third, sophomore Chad Clark fielded Ryan Richardson’s sacrifice bunt attempt. His low throw bounced in front of Travis and to his left, and the three-base error plated the Spartans’ first run. An RBI groundout by Anthony Cheky scored Richardson.

“It’s not a tough play,” Smith said. “(Clark) really didn’t execute.”

MSU starter Mick VanVossen held the Hoosiers at bay, surrendering three runs — all earned, but two in the top of the eighth — because his pitches featured a lot of movement and kept the Hoosiers off balance, junior third baseman Dustin DeMuth said.

IU Coach Tracy Smith said a loss is a loss, but things get magnified in walk-off losses.

In the bottom of the ninth, Basil dove to his right trying to keep Richardson’s ball in the infield, and the deflection off his glove allowed the Spartans’ shortstop a double. Junior relief pitcher Ryan Halstead walked Cheky intentionally. He struck out catcher Joel Fisher. He hit Pickens with an 0-2 offering to load the bases. Halstead struck out designated hitter Blaise Salter to draw the Hoosiers within an out from forcing extras for the third time in as many contests. Instead, Krill deposited a 2-1 pitch into left field and sent Halstead to his second loss in two days.

Basil said it was good the Hoosiers could rally, but it’s bad that they’re falling behind early.

“If you’re coming back, that means that you did something wrong earlier,” he said. “(It’s) kind an emotional roller coaster, but ... we can’t let games get away early.”

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