OMAHA, Nebraska — The Michigan State baseball team fell, 7-3, to Ohio State in the semifinal of the Big Ten Tournament on Sunday morning in Omaha, Nebraska. Leading 4-3, Ohio State scored three runs in the seventh inning to pull away from the Spartans and earn a spot in the championship game vs. Iowa. The Spartans drop to 36-20 for the season while Ohio State improves to 42-18-1.
The Spartans’ 36 wins are tied for the 4th most in program history along.
“Tough day for us,” said head coach Jake Boss Jr. “It’s tough to see it come to an end. I’m proud of the way our guys competed. We had our opportunities, we just didn’t play well enough today and that’s the way the game goes sometimes. I’ve been doing this at the collegiate level for 20 years and I haven’t had a higher character group of kids or a group of kids that have been more fun to be around and that’s no knock against anybody else, but it’s hard to see it come to an end when you’ve got a great group of kids like we do.”
After trailing 3-0 in the early going, the Spartans fought back to tie the game up in the third inning. Kory Young walked to start the inning and Brandon Hughes followed with a single. Dan Durkin then smacked a double into the right field corner that scored both runners to cut the deficit to one. Dan Chmielewski then muscled a pitch over the shortstop and into the outfield, allowing Durkin to come around and score and tie the game at 3-3.
“It was still early, so we were fighting like we have all year,” said Durkin. “We’ve been down and come back and won, so we weren’t shocked. We were ready to go and just needed to get guys on base and we tied it back up.”
With runners on first and third later in the inning, Kris Simonton got in a rundown trying to allow Chmielewski to score the go-ahead run from third, but was tagged out before the run could come across to score.
“Guys competed today,” said Boss. “We just kept fighting and fighting and tied it back up. “We tried to run a force-balk there with two outs and first and third. Credit their guys, they made the play. They executed. That play has worked for us on a number of occasions for us this year.”
The Buckeyes wasted no time getting things going, as they put the first three runners of the game on base. Troy Kuhn plated the first run on an RBI groundout before Troy Montgomery laid a sac bunt down the first base line, allowing Craig Nennig to score from third and give OSU a 2-0 lead.
Ohio State added on in third inning with three consecutive two-out singles to make it 3-0.
Joe Mockbee got the start for MSU and finished with a final line 2.2 innings pitched, giving up three runs on five hits.
OSU loaded bases with one out in fifth, but Dakota Mekkes got out of the jam, forcing a pop out before striking out the final batter of the inning. Mekkes took the loss, allowing four runs (three earned) in two innings of work.
With the game still knotted up in the sixth, OSU put two runners on and executed a double steal. The throw down to third sailed high and into the outfield, allowing the run to come home and give the Buckeyes a 4-3 lead.
The Buckeyes extended the lead to 7-3 in the seventh inning with three runs on just one hit. With two runners on, Jalen Washington put down a sac bunt. In attempt to get the lead runner at third, the throw went wide of the bag and down the left field line and allowed a run to score. The second run of the inning came across on a wild pitch before a sac fly capped off the scoring.
Dan Durkin went 3-for-4 at the plate with two RBIs and one run to lead the offense for the Spartans.