April 29, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — In a wild, back-and-forth game at Frank Eck Stadium Tuesday night, Michigan State hit two home runs in the top of the 12th inning to catapult it past the University of Notre Dame baseball team, 9-6, in the 133rd meeting all-time between the two schools.
After a clutch Robert Youngdahl RBI double in the bottom of the ninth inning tied the game at six, the two schools went to extra innings. For Notre Dame, it was its sixth extra-inning game of the year, including its second in a row.
In the 10th and 11th innings neither team could get much going, as a Cavan Biggio walk and eventual advancement to second base highlighted the two innings.
However, the Spartan bats woke up in the 12th, beginning with a Mark Weist leadoff homer that sailed over the right-field fence and gave Sparty a 7-6 lead.
The Irish then brought in freshman LHP Sean Guenther (1.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 2 SO) to replace fellow freshman RHP Evy Ruibal on the mound, but the MSU bats didn’t let up. After one out, Ryan Richardson unleashed the second of his two triples on the day to set the stage for a Brandon Hughes two-run homer that cruised over the left-field fence and put the Spartans up three.
In the bottom half of the 12th, the Irish put runners on first and second with one out, but a lineout and strikeout ended the game and gave Michigan State the win.
“I think tonight was two good teams playing a pretty good college baseball game,” said head coach Mik Aoki. “I was a little disappointed in innings two through five or six. I felt like we all of a sudden allowed Michigan State to sort of dictate the tempo of the game and I think to be honest we got a little complacent. We just assumed 4-1 with the way we pitch and play defense was going to be enough and that came back to bite us. At the same time, you give credit where credit is due. Misiewicz came in and shut us right down to sort of get their feet under them after suffering a body blow with the four-run first.”
Notre Dame (28-16), who won eight-straight games from March 31 to April 12, is just 4-6 since, with four of the six losses coming by two runs or less and three of the six losses coming in extra innings.
“We have to go back and lean on our preparation and worry about all the things that we can control,” said Aoki. “We are still a very good baseball team with a lot to play for. We have to continue to go out there and be the aggressor and continue to have confidence in what we can do and what we have done. We just have to keep playing. There is no magic solution for this. We might be in a little three-game funk here, but we lost three in a row to Louisville and three in a row to Virginia and we just have to bounce back. With Wake Forest on the road, those are two tight games. The game we lost to Indiana last week was the same type of deal. The story is that any one of the games we lost in the last week could have very easily gone the other way with one swing of the bat or one pitch, so I don’t think we go re-invent the wheel. We just have to keep doing what we have been doing.”
The Irish got off to a hot start, as they quickly plated four runs in the first inning behind a Ryan Lidge RBI single and subsequent Spartan throwing error and a Zak Kutsulis RBI single. Later in the inning with Kutsulis at first and Lane Richards at third, the Irish pull off a delayed steal, as Kutsulis took second and on the catcher throw down to second Richards darted home for another run. Following a walk, Michigan State starter Alex Troop’s night ended after 39 pitches and just 0.2 innings. He allowed four runs, four hits and two walks in the no-decision.
Sparty turned to reliever Anthony Misiewicz, who proceeded to hurl 6.1 outstanding innings, allowing a run on two hits while striking out six Notre Dame batters to settle his team down.
Trailing 4-2, Michigan State had its big inning in the seventh, as it plated four runs on five hits spread out among Irish starter Ryan Smoyer (6.1 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 3 SO, 95 pitches) and Ruibal (4.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 60 pitches). Highlighting the inning was a big Richardson two-RBI triple that gave Michigan State a 6-4 lead going to the bottom of the seventh.
Besides allowing the one Youngdahl run that sent the game to extras, MSU reliever Walter Borkovich has an impressive relief effort that ended with a victory. He went 4.1 innings and allowed a run, two hits and three walks while striking out six.
For the night, the Irish struck out 14 times compared to eight K’s for the Spartans. Notre Dame also left 12 runners on base.
Michigan State had an impressive 18 hits in the game, led by Ryan Krill’s three as part of a 3-for-6 night with an RBI and two runs scored. Six other players registered two hits, as every starter recorded at least one base knock. Richardson had two triples, while Weist and Hughes tallied the clutch homers in the 12th inning.
For Notre Dame, sophomore Kyle Fiala registered two ground-rule doubles on the night to up his on-base streak to 33 games. The Carmel, Indiana native has tallied two or more hits in three straight games and in six of his last seven contests.
Elsewhere, Biggio cracked his sixth homer of the year and his third in the last five games to cut the Spartan lead to 6-5 in the seventh inning. Both Richards and Kutsulis had two-hit days.
Notre Dame must quickly regroup, as its eight-game homestand continues with a 6:05 p.m. (ET) Wednesday game against Sacramento State. Fans can follow the game through WatchND’s free online video stream or by listening to WHME 103.1 FM in South Bend.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director