EVANSVILLE, Ind. â€“ The Michigan State baseball team scored eight runs in the top of the ninth inning to rally past Evansville, 10-3, Friday night at Braun Stadium. Down 3-2 heading into the final inning, the Spartans crossed the plate eight times on six hits to win their fifth straight and improve to 12-3 for the season.
â€œWe really showed a lot of character and never gave up tonight,â€ said MSU head coach Jake Boss. â€œWe had a lot of focus in the ninth inning. One guy didnâ€™t try and win the game by himself. It was a complete team effort against a good ballclub.â€
Michigan State got on the board early as a Justin Scanlon sacrifice fly made it 1-0 in the top of the first, but the Purple Aces (7-7) responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning off Spartan starter Kurt Wunderlich.
Wunderlich settled in for the next two innings, but gave up an unearned run in the fourth as Evansville increased its lead to 3-1.
Meanwhile, EU starter Kyle Lloyd cruised through his seven innings, striking out four and allowing just four hits.
The Spartans cut the margin to 3-2 in the eighth as Jeff Holm led off the inning with a double, advanced to third on a groundout, then scored on another groundout off the bat of Andrew Carpenter.
In the decisive ninth inning, Adam Culiver came in for relief to close out the game for Evansville, but ended up giving up six runs on six hits in just 1/3 of an inning.
The rally started with a walk to Jordan Keur, then Brandon Eckerle got the first of his two hits in the inning with a bunt single. Ryan Jones advanced Keur and Eckerle along with a sacrifice bunt, and from that point, five consecutive Spartans reached base. Torsten Boss was intentionally walked to load the bases, followed by a clutch Holm single to right field that brought home two runs and gave MSU the 4-3 lead.
The Spartans added to their lead as Scanlon and Andy Johnson both rattled off RBI singles, making it 6-3. Jared Hook then tacked on a two-run double, while Keur and Eckerle also had RBIs in the big inning.
MSU had 12 hits in the contest, with Eckerle, Jones, Boss and Holm each collecting two apiece.
â€œJust like in the Pittsburgh game, hitting is contagious,â€ said Boss. â€œWe got a seeing-eye single from Holm to give us the lead, and it kind of snowballed from there. Credit their starter for keeping us off balance most of the game. We just came out on the right side of the comeback tonight.â€
Tony Wieber threw two scoreless innings in the eighth and ninth to get his second win of the season. Wunderlich struck out five and gave up seven hits and three runs, two earned, in seven innings.
â€œKurt didnâ€™t have his best stuff tonight, but he really battled,â€ Boss said. â€œAnd really, we needed Tony to just get a hold there in the eighth. He did such a good job, we put him back out there in the ninth and he got the win.â€
The Spartans and Purple Aces will meet for game two of the three-game series Saturday at 3 p.m. ET.