Michigan State smacked three home runs and added a pair of triples by Ebonee Echols to post a 12-3 victory over Maryland in College Park. The Spartans (20-17, 2-5 B1G) exploded for six sixth-inning runs to put the game away, as Kristina Zalewski dealt as many strikeouts (4) as she did hits in four innings of relief work.
Echols tied the school record with two triples in a game, which had been accomplished eight times previously in program history; the most recent by Nikki Nicosia in March of 2008. It was the first time ever done by a Spartan player in a Big Ten game.
The teams each hit early home runs – a two-run shot by Skylynne Ellazar in the home half of the first and a matching two-run bomb by Celeste Wood in the top of the third that helped MSU take it’s first lead, 3-2.
The second of Echols’ triples and a second two-run home run for the Spartans – this one from Sarah Gutknecht– put the Spartans up 6-2 in the top of the fifth. A two-out infield single by Ellazar brought the Terps within three, but after loading the bases, Zalewski got a ground ball out to end the threat.
The six-run sixth put the game away for MSU, as the nine-run margin ended the game after the sixth inning.
The teams play again on Saturday, with first pitch scheduled for 2 pm.
“I was proud of the way we executed our game plan – I thought we looked really good at the plate, and hopefully that’s something that we will be able to continue the next couple of games. Celeste Wood really just had a day – she had five RBI, and Ebonee Echols continues to be a factor that teams have to try to figure out how to stop. I thought both of our pitchers were effective – Dani set the tone in the first two innings, and `Z’ had as many strikeouts as she allowed hits. It’s a strong statement for us as we start the series.” – Head CoachJacquie Joseph
Celeste Wood (third inning) , Sarah Gutknecht (fifth), and Shanin Thomas (sixth) each hit two-run home runs. Wood finished her day with five RBI on a team-best three hits. Ebonee Echols went 2-for-3 with a school-record two triples, an RBI, and three runs scored. Gutknecht went 2-for-4 with three RBI Lea Foerster 2-for-3 with a pair of singles, and was hit by a pitch. Kristina Zalewski entered in the third inning for starter Dani Goranson. She pitched four innings, striking out four and scattering four hits while walking one.
STATS AND STORYLINES
The Terrapins junped out in front in the bottom of the first, with a two-run shot by Skylynne Ellazar over the wall in right. MSU pulled ahead with a big third inning. With two outs, Foerster was hit by a pitch to put a runner on first, and Ebonee Echols followed with a triple to center which scored Foerster and cut Maryland’s lead to 2-1.Celeste Wood stepped in and hit a two-run bomb to left center to give MSU its first lead, 3-2. It was Wood’s team-best fifth of the season. In the top of the fifth, Echols’ second triple of the game became the fourth run for MSU on an RBI single by Wood. Sarah Gutknecht’s third home run of the year pushed the Spartan lead to 6-2. Maryland cut into the lead in the bottom of the fifth. Jordan Aughinbaugh led off the inning with a double, and moved to third when Lindsey Schmeiser reached on an error to put runners at the corners with two outs. Ellazar came up with an infield single to score Aughinbaugh, but Schmeiser had to stop at second. Zalewski got ahead of Hannah Dewey 0-2 in the count, but Dewey fought through the at-bat and walked to load the bases. Zalewski got a big ground-ball out – a roller to first by Kristina Dillard that Gutknecht handled on her own for the third out, stranding all three runners. The Spartans put the game away with a six-run sixth inning. Shanin Thomas came in as a pinch hitter and smacked a two-run shot, her second home run of the season and sixth of her career. Celeste Wood delivered a bases-loaded single to right later in the inning for two more RBI and push the Spartan lead to 10-3, and Gutknecht’s RBI single made it 11-3. The Spartans batted around to load the bases again, and Eveland grounded into a fielder’s choice for the second out of the inning. Ebonee Echols’ triples in the third and fifth innings were her sixth and seventh of the year. She ties Jessica Nathan of Florida A&M for the national lead. Her seven triples is tied for fifth all-time (with Keri Lemasters) in a season at MSU. She extended her hitting streak to 11 games, the team’s longest this season. Wood’s five RBI tied her season high, which she previously did against Stony Brook on Feb. 26. Freshman classmate Lexi White also had five RBI in a game this season, vs. Bowling Green on March 19. MSU scored 13 runs in the Penn State series last weekend, and nearly matched that in the opener tonight against Maryland.