A collision at the plate between MSU catcher Lindsey Besson and South Carolina senior Jordan Bizzell with two outs in the bottom seventh inning jostled the ball free and gave homestanding South Carolina (16-2) an 8-7 walkoff victory over Michigan State on Saturday afternoon. The Spartans fall to 9-8 on the season.
The Spartans came out with a confident effort from the first inning, and the two teams went blow-for- blow throughout seven innings. The game was tied at 4-4, 5-5, and 7-7 before the Gamecocks pushed across the winning run with a heads-up baserunning play with two outs in their final at-bat.
Junior Kassidy Kujawa hit her team-best third home run of the year in the sixth as a pinch hitter, and sophomore Lea Foerster smacked her first of the season, a two-run shot, in the seventh to tie the game, 7-7. Both Foerster and Celeste Wood went 3-for-4 at the plate.
This is heartbreak for sure, and just so frustrating. I’m proud of our effort and the way we responded after a pretty lackluster offensive effort in the first game today. We stood toe-to-toe with South Carolina, and refused to back down. They scored a run, we scored a run … they hit a homer, we hit a homer. That is the type of effort it’s going to take for us to be successful – and that is an NCAA Tournament team that plays in the toughest conference in the country. It hurts for sure, but it’s also something that I think we can be better for in the long run if we remember the lessons we learned today in a back-and-forth battle a high-caliber team.” – Head Coach Jacquie Joseph
Celeste Wood had went 3-for 4, delivering a game-tying single and RBI in the fourth, and had a pair of stolen bases in addition to pitching two innings of middle relief, surrendering three runs.
Lea Foerster smacked a game-tying two-run home run to dead center in the top of the seventh inning to cap a 3-for-4 performance.
Kassidy Kujawa hit her third home run of the season and 17th of her career in the sixth inning as a pinch hitter.
Kaitlyn Eveland had a double with two RBI in the first inning .
Bridgette Rainey got the start, going 3.1 innings, allowing three hits and three earned runs, striking out two and walking three, and hitting four batters. In relief, Celeste Wood went two innings, and Zalewski took her second hard-luck loss of the day by closing out a 1.1 inning performance in which she had two strikeouts and two walks.STATS AND STORYLINES
MSU jumped on the board in the top of the first inning, all with two outs. Celeste Wood singled up the middle and stole second, then advanced to third on a wild pitch. Sarah Gutknecht walked to put runners at the corners for Kaitlyn Eveland, and the freshman delivered an RBI double to right center for a 2-0 lead. Alaynie Page sent the second pitch of the bottom of the first over the left-field wall to cut the MSU lead in half. Rainey hit the next batter and then issued a walk, putting on a pair of runners without an out. Rainey got the next batter to pop up to Besson, but then walked the bases loaded for DP Victoria Williams. Rainey worked a full count, but Williams flew out to right, but a throwing error scored a second run after Williams sac fly to give the home team a 3-2 lead. Rainey got a strikeout to strand one, but the Gamecocks overcame the early deficit. Foerster led off the top of the third by legging out an infield single to short, and McKenzie Long moved her to second with a sac bunt. Wood followed with her second hit of the game, MSU’s second infield single of the inning, moving Foerster to third. Gutknecht grounded out to first, plating Foerster for the tying run, but Wood was stranded at second after junior pitcher Nickie Blue got Eveland to end the inning. The Gamecocks threatened in the third, putting two on with one out. Rainey got Taylor Williams to pop out, but walked Bizzell on an illegal pitch, bringing home the go-ahead runner from third. Rainey got Ansley Ard swinging to end the inning. Celeste Wood entered with one out in the fourth, making her first appearance in the circle since Feb. 19 vs. Northern Iowa. She got two quick outs, and the Gamecocks went to ace Jessica Elliott to start the fifth. Foerster delivered a one-out single off of Elliott, was sacrificed to second by Long, and then Wood helped her own cause, smacking a single to right to plate Foerster and tie the game 4-4. A two-out home run by Taylor Williams in the fifth gave the Gamecocks a 5-4 lead, but Kassidy Kujawacame in as a pinch hitter in the top of the sixth and launched the first pitch she saw over the wall in center field. It was her third of the season, and gives her sole possession of 8th place in the MSU annals for career home runs (17). With two on and one out in the sixth, Zalewski entered the game in relief of Wood. She walked the first batter she saw, but then surrendered a two-run single to Krystan White to give the home team a 7-5 lead, but shook it off to record back-to-back strikeouts to get out of the inning. Echols led off the seventh with a double into the gap in left center, and Lea Foerster delivered her biggest hit of the season to date, a home run to dead center to knot the game at 7-7. Jordan Bizzell was hit by a pitch to lead off the home half of the seventh, and with one out, and Bizzell beat the throw to second on a double-play ball that got Alaynie Page at first. Zalewski walked Kenzi Maguire to put runners at first and second, which brought No. 3 hitter Kennedy Clark, a freshman, to the plate. With two outs, Clark’s check swing put the ball into play about two feet from the plate. Catcher Lindsey Besson couldn’t get the batter, and with no one covering home, Bizzell rounded third and both she and the Besson broke for the plate. A collision at the plate jostled the ball free from Besson, as Bizzell was ruled safe for the walkoff win.