Michigan State got three home runs among their four hits and got a complete game from Kristina Zalewskias the Spartans won the series over visiting Rutgers, 6-4, on Sunday.
The Spartans (25-26, 6-14) were playing their final game at Secchia Stadium this season, and twice rallied from deficits to take home the victory. MSU had used a Kaitlyn Eveland home run and the speedy base running of Ebonee Echols to plate three runs in the third inning to tie the game 3-3, and then used home runs by Echols and Lindsey Besson in the bottom of the fourth to take their first lead of the game, 6-4.
Zalewski tossed her 14th complete game and second of the weekend, scattering 10 hits, three strikeouts, and twice working out of bases-loaded jams. Rutgers left nine runners on base in the game.
The Spartans won the series with Friday and Sunday victories – both games that Zalewski went the distance. MSU is idle during finals week, and opens a three-game series at Ohio State next Friday.
Ebonee Echols went 2-for-2 with a home run. Freshman Kaitlyn Eveland hit her first collegiate home run in the second inning, and went 1-for-3. Lindsey Besson went 1-for-3, launching a two-run homer in the fourth and finishing with three RBI. Kristina Zalewski went the distance, allowing 10 hits and striking out three.
“It was important to us to finish strong – it was our last home game of the year, we had an opportunity to win the series, and it was also the final home game for our seniors. We got another great performance from Kristina Zalewski, who seems to be getting stronger with every outing. Kaitlyn Eveland and Ebonee Echols have been through so much injury-wise this season, and seeing them start to get back to form is fantasatic. We got contributions from so many players this weekend, and as we see our team’s health improve, we’re also starting to see our fortunes turn. ”
— Head coach Jacquie Joseph
STATS AND STORYLINES
Rutgers greeted starter Kristina Zalewski with four straight singles to open the game, but a double play and a fly ball to right got her out of the inning with minimal damage. In the second, the Scarlet Knights got a pair of runs, aided by an MSU error on a ground ball to lead off the inning. Sarah Gutknecht led off the bottom of the second with a single up the middle, and one batter later Kaitlyn Eveland sent her first collegiate home run over the wall in left center to pull MSU within 3-2. Ebonee Echolswas hit by a pitch, and Shanin Thomas laid down a beautiful bunt that allowed the speedy Echols to round second with a head of steam and beat the throw to third. On a fly ball to right, Echols raced home and beat the throw, tying the game 3-3. Zalewski worked out of a bases-loaded one-out jam in the top of the third, as MSU got an out at home on a forceout and then Zalewski got Carly Todd looking. The Scarlet Knights pulled ahead with the help of another MSU error in the top of the fourth, but a fantastic catch in left center by Ebonee Echols got the Spartans out of the inning. The Spartans exploded for a pair of home runs in the bottom of the fourth, turning a 4-3 deficit into a 6-4 lead.Ebonee Echols hit her first-ever home run at Secchia Stadium – 230 feet to dead center – to tie the game at 4-4.Shanin Thomas reached when the third baseman charged in to catch her popup, and the ball ricocheted off her glove and to the backstop, allowing Thomas not only to be safe at first, but to take second. Lindsey Bessonturned on a 1-1 pitch and sent it over the wall in left for her fourth home run of the season, giving MSU its first lead of the day at 6-4. Zalewski allowed one runner in both the fifth and sixth innings, but then sent down the Scarlet Knights in order in the seventh to close out the game. Zalewski’s three strikeouts pushed her season count to 194 (fourth all-time in a single season at MSU) and her career total to 342, fifth all-time in MSU history. Her 26 starts and 14 complete games this season are both career bests. Eveland, who had missed 22 of the previous 28 games with injury, returned to action for this series vs. Rutgers and went 3-for-7 (.429) with three RBI, which included an RBI double on Saturday and a two-run home run on Sunday. Besson hit her fourth home run of the season, extending her career-best total in that category.