Michigan State advanced to Saturday’s Big Ten Tournament semifinals with a 7-0 victory over No. 16 Michigan. Senior pitcher Kristina Zalewski tossed a three-hit shutout for her 15th complete game of the season.
The Spartans (26-25) defeated the top-seeded Wolverines after a pair of regular-season losses – a 1-0 loss in Ann Arbor on April 11 and an 8-0 run-rule loss at Secchia Stadium on May 2. MSU has now eliminated the Wolverines in the Big Ten quarterfinals for the second straight season. MSU won a 5-4 decision in the 2017 quarterfinals in Ann Arbor, which was the 800th career victory for head coach Jacquie Joseph.
The game was played in less than ideal conditions – the game was delayed nearly six hours by inclement weather, starting at 10:15 pm CT. With a game time temperature of 45 degrees and a steady shower throughout, Zalewski was masterful from the first pitch. She struck out 10 batters and walked four, allowing just three base hits. Lea Foerster went 3-for-5 with a pair of RBI while Kaitlyn Eveland was 2-for-2 with a pair of walks.
The victory was the largest for MSU over Michigan since an identical 7-0 victory on May 5, 2007.
The Spartans scored twice in the second inning and five in the fifth inning to build a 7-0 lead, chasing Big Ten Freshman of the Year Meghan Beaubien from the game. The Spartans scored those five fifth-inning runs on just two base hits, as Beaubien walked five and struck out five in addition to surrendering six base hits and allowing seven runs, six of them earned.
MSU will have to wait to learn its semifinal opponent – the final Friday quarterfinal was pushed to Saturday morning, where Northwestern and Iowa will battle (10:15 am CT) to take on the Spartans in the 3:30 pm CT semifinal.
- Kristina Zalewski threw a complete game three-hitter, striking out 10 and limiting the Wolverines tojust three base hits
- Lea Foerster was 3-for 5 with a pair of RBI
- Kaitlyn Eveland was 2-for-2 with a pair of walks and an RBI.
“This was just a solid effort from the first pitch to the last. I loved our approach, and I thought that Kristina Zalewski showed that she can be one of the best pitchers in the country. I’ve said that I liked the way we were playing ball over the last few weeks. Maybe its the seniors with a sense of urgency, but they’ve really set a nice standard and everyone is just dialed in right now. We’ll get our rest and get ready to play tomorrow.”
Head Coach Jacquie Joseph
STATS AND STORYLINES
- Kaitlyn Eveland led off the second inning with a double to right and went to third on a ground ball by Katie Quinlan. Lindsey Besson was hit by a pitch and Melanie Baccay walked to load the bases, bringing up the top of the order. Foerster fought through a nine-pitch at bat to send a single right back up the middle to score Eveland and pinch runner Summer Callahan for a 2-0 lead. Beaubien walked Long to re-load the bases, but a fly ball to right ended the inning.
- The Spartans had hits in the third and fourth innings, but finally broke through fifth, when Caitie Ladd was hit by a pitch, and a ground ball into the hole at third by Carrasco was thrown away by the shortstop allowing the MSU runners to move into scoring position. Beaubien walked Eveland to load the bases, bringing Echols to the plate. She barely missed a grand slam by inches down the left field line to make it a full count, but Beaubien missed on the next pitch inside to walk Echols and bring home a third run for the Spartans. Quinlan followed with a ball into the hole at short, and the defense had nowhere to go as the bases remained loaded and brought home another run to make it 4-0. That chased Meghan Beaubien from the circle and brought on Sarah Schaefer for the Wolverines with the bases loaded and none out. Lindsey Besson reached on a fielder’s choice as the throw went home, but Katie Alexander missed the tag on Echols, who plated the sixth run. A single by Kelly Zackrison plated Quinlan with the seventh run, but Besson was tagged out on a strong throw by right fielder Aidan Falk. The Wolverines got out of the inning with no further damage, but the Spartans had blown the game open.
- After a lengthy top of the fifth inning, Zalewski walked the leadoff hitter Taylor Swearingen in the home half of the frame. Natalia Rodriguez singled into the 3-4 hole to put a pair of runners on with one out. Zalewski worked out of the jam to leave the Wolverines without a run.
- A Carrasco walk and a single by Eveland gave the Spartans a pair of runners in the top of the sixth, but Schafer got out of the inning with a fielder’s choice and a ground ball.
- The Wolverines went down fighting in the seventh. A two-out walk and a single gave them a pair of baserunners, but a heads-up play by a diving Kelcey Carrasco in foul territory followed by a ground ball to end the game eliminated any chance of the Wolverines breaking up the shutout.
- The Spartans have now won 10 of their last 11 games, with the lone loss in that stretch the 8-0 loss to the Wolverines on May 2.
Want the latest breaking MSU news delivered straight to your email for FREE? Sign up for the DAILY Spartan Nation newsletter WHEN YOU CLICK RIGHT HERE! Don’t miss any of the latest up to the second updates on Michigan State Sports when you follow on Twitter @HondoCarpenter