ANN ARBOR, Mich. â€“ The Michigan State baseball team completed a three-game sweep over Michigan with two wins on Sunday afternoon in a doubleheader at Ray Fisher Stadium, 5-4 and 8-2. It marks the first time since 1955 and just the second time ever in school history that the Spartans have swept the Wolverines in a series (three games or more). The doubleheader sweep is also the first for MSU over Michigan in 11 years.
Although the games did not count in the Big Ten standings, the Spartans improved to 15-5 for the season.
â€œWeâ€™re excited,â€ said MSU head coach Jake Boss, who moved to 6-1 in his Spartan career against Michigan. â€œItâ€™s tough to sweep a series, first of all, itâ€™s tough to sweep a series on the road, and then you throw in the fact youâ€™re playing your rival and a very good program with a lot of tradition, itâ€™s difficult. But you have to hand it to our guys today, they really played well all day today. It was a chilly day, and the conditions werenâ€™t the best,Â but they hung in there, played hard for nine innings, and thatâ€™s all you can ask for.â€
In game one, the Spartans broke a 1-1 tie with four runs in the seventh, keyed by Andy Johnsonâ€™s three-run homer that cleared the left-field wall.
Before the long ball gave MSU a 5-1 lead, the Spartans used a suicide squeeze to take a 2-1 advantage, as Andrew Carpenter laid down a perfect bunt that scored Ryan Jones. Carpenter actually reached base on the play, beating out the throw after a failed attempt at home to get Jones, which also pushed Justin Scanlon to third base from first. That set the table for Johnson, who cleared the elevated wall in left with his three-run shot â€“ and first of the season.
â€œThat was the turning point in the game for us,â€ said Boss. â€œAndy had a good at-bat going. He fouled off a couple of pitches, just missed a few, and really came through for us when we needed him to.â€
Michigan (6-15) answered back in the bottom of the seventh on a pinch-hit, three-run homer by Coley Crank that cut the Spartan lead to 5-4. But it was close as the Wolverines would get.
Tony Wieber earned his second save of the season by shutting down Michigan in the final two innings. Although he gave up the homer to Crank in the seventh, Wieber struck out three in his three innings of work. Michigan put runners on first and second with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, but a flyout to right field ended the scoring threat and the game.
Tony Bucciferro (4-1) was credited with the win after striking out six batters and scattering five hits in five-plus innings of work.
The Spartans never trailed in taking game two, 8-2. MSU got off to an early lead on a Jeff Holm RBI single in the top of the first and never looked back.
In the fourth, MSU scored three times to push its advantage to 4-0. Joel Fisher hit an RBI single off the left-field wall, followed by a Jeff Kinley triple to the gap in right-center that scored Fisher and Carpenter. MSU made it 5-0 on Scanlonâ€™s RBI bunt in the fifth which plated Torsten Boss.
â€œOur freshmen really came through for us in game two,â€ said Boss. â€œFisher had a big RBI off the wall, and Kinley came up with a huge hit to drive in a couple.â€
Freshman starter David Garner gave up his only run in the bottom of the fifth on a wild pitch. He threw 6.1 innings, scattering four hits while striking out two and walking just one, to get his third win of the season.
â€œ(David) is going to be a special one if he continues to work hard,â€ Boss said. â€œHeâ€™s showed signs every outing of some really good things for the future for us. He was able to make big pitches in big situations.â€
The Spartans padded their lead with three more runs in the eighth, making it 8-1. Boss hit a sacrifice fly to bring home Brandon Eckerle, Ryan Jones doubled in Holm, and Scanlon hit a single up the middle to plate Jones.
Michigan State collected 13 hits in game two and every starter had at least one base hit. Designated hitter Jared Hook led MSU with four hits (4-for-8) in the doubleheader.
The Spartans return to action for their home opener at McLane Baseball Stadium Wednesday, March 31 against Central Michigan. First pitch is set for 3:05 p.m.
The temperature at first pitch of game one was 32 degrees and the entire game was played in temperatures in the 30s, but it was sunny and clear the entire day . . . the two teams played a doubleheader on Sunday following the cancellation of Saturdayâ€™s game at McLane Baseball Stadium in East Lansing . . . Michigan State and Michigan were left off the Big Ten scheduling rotation in 2010 and 2011 . . . the only other time Michigan State swept Michigan in a three-game series occurred in 1955, as MSU, under head coach John Kobs, beat the Wolverines in Ann Arbor on May 13, 3-0, and in East Lansing in a doubleheader May 14, 8-5 and 4-3 . . . Michigan State also swept Michigan in a two-game series in 1969 under head coach Danny Litwhiler, as the Spartans won 5-4 in East Lansing on April 18 and 18-3 in Ann Arbor on April 19 . . . in 1912, Michigan State won three single games against Michigan, defeating the Wolverines on May 4, May 18 and May 30 . . . MSU also beat the Wolverines in a home-and-home series during the 1947 and 1950 seasons . . . in a series that dates back to 1884, the Spartans first beat Michigan twice in a season in 1887 (2-0) . . . in the only meeting between the two schools during the 1903, 1935 and 1957 seasons, Michigan State defeated Michigan in those contests.