University Park, Pa. – The Michigan State baseball team split a doubleheader with Penn State on Sunday afternoon and the Spartans are now 20-6 on the season and 5-1 in Big Ten play. After winning the first game, 5-2, the Spartans overcame a three-run deficit in game two and took the lead before the Nittany Lions scored two in the ninth to win, 7-6.
In game one, the Spartans fell behind twice but scored two runs in both the sixth and seventh innings to pull away from Penn State.
The Nittany Lions got the scoring started with a walk and a pair of singles in the second inning to gain the early 1-0 lead.
After Penn State regained the lead in the fifth, MSU loaded the bases with nobody out and got consecutive sac flys from Brandon Hughes and Taylor Grace to go ahead 3-2.
Ethan Landon picked up his third win of the season, pitching 5.2 innings and allowing two runs on six hits.
Game two featured a back and forth match that saw Penn State jump out to another early lead. A two-run fifth inning for PSU opened up a 4-1 lead, before the Spartans eventually regained the lead at 6-5. The Nittany Lions pushed across two runs with two outs in the ninth to spoil the sweep, with the game-winning run coming across after an error would have forced extras.
“It was a good job by our guys to keep playing in the eighth and take advantage of opportunity they gave us,” said head coach Jake Boss Jr. “When you get beat when you don’t feel like you should have it leaves a sour taste in your mouth. Penn State competed their tails off and you have to give them credit.”
Brandon Hughes and Taylor Grace combined to go 5-for-9 at the plate in game two with four runs and two RBIs. The two facilitated both rallies that got the Spartans back in the game.
Trailing by three in the sixth inning, a Dan Durkin walk followed by a Hughes double built some momentum. Grace then came through with a big two-RBI single to bring MSU within one. Grace eventually came around to score from third on a failed pickoff attempt and tie the game.
After the Nittany Lions responded in the home half with a run of their own to regain the lead, MSU needed another rally. Hughes and Grace led off the eighth inning with a pair of singles. Justin Hovis then laid down a bunt with runners on first and third. Hughes was thrown out at the plate to start the play, but then Grace and Hovis both came around to score after a throwing error by the Penn State catcher.
PSU put its first two runners of the ninth on before tying the game on an RBI single. With two outs, a ground ball looked to have forced extra innings, but the throw to first pulled Jordan Zimmerman off the bag and the winning run scored from third.
Andrew Gonzalez took the loss in game two and is now 3-2 on the year.
Zimmerman extended his hitting streak to 20 games with three singles on the day.
Michigan State will take on Michigan at home on Tuesday in a nonconference matchup starting at 4 p.m. The following day, the Spartans will head to Detroit to take on Central Michigan in the annual Clash at Comerica, starting at 7:05 pm. MSU returns to Big Ten action next weekend with a three-game set vs. Purdue in West Lafayette, Indiana.