March 17, 2012
CINCINNATI – The University of Cincinnati baseball team fell to Michigan State 5-4 in a 14-inning marathon Saturday afternoon at Marge Schott Stadium.
Michigan State (9-7) scored in the top of the 14th when Spartans catcher John Martinez hit a two-out RBI single up the middle to put MSU ahead 5-4.
Cincinnati (8-8) put runners on first and second with one out in the bottom of the 14th, but could not get the runs needed to tie or win the ballgame.
The 14-inning contest marked the longest game the Bearcats have played since May 9, 2003 when they defeaed St. Louis University 5-4 in 15 innings.
Senior catcher Jake Saylor paced the Bearcats with a 2-for-6, one-RBI performance. Junior centerfielder Jake Proctor followed with a 2-for-7 game. Sophomore shortstop Matt Williams, junior outfielder Braden Kline, freshman third baseman Joey Bielek each added one RBI for UC.
The Bearcats rallied for two runs to force extra innings in their final at-bat trailing 4-2. With one out, sophomore right fielder Justin Glass walked and scored in the next at-bat when Kline lined a double to left-center field to bring UC to within one. The next batter, Bielek hit a groundball to third base, but the runner on second base, Taylor Schmidt, was caught in no-man’s land and was thrown out at second.
Senior first baseman Spence then walked to put runners on first and second and two outs. Up to bat next for UC was Saylor, who belted a 2-2 pitch to left field that allowed Bielek to cross the plate and tied the score 4-4. Redshirt sophomore outfielder Ethan McAlpine nearly ended the game with a line drive that Spartans CF Anthony Cheky dove to corral for the third out.
Trailing 3-1, the Bearcats threatened to tie the score in the bottom half of the seventh after Glass led off with a double down the left-field line and advanced to third on a groundball out to first base. Bielek then drove in Glass with an RBI single to center field that made the score 3-2. In the next at-bat, Spence popped up to the shortstop for out No. 2, but Bielek was running on the play and was tagged out at second base to end the inning.
Michigan State wasted little time scoring the first run of the ballgame. Spartans centerfielder Anthony Cheky led off the top of the first with a home run to right field off a 3-2 pitch from Morris to give MSU an early 1-0 lead.
Cincinnati went down by two runs in the fourth inning after the Spartans plated their second score of the day. With one out and runners on first and second, MSU shortstop Justin Scanlon singled through the left side of the infield for an RBI that made the score 2-0.
The UC offense was limited early by a solid performance from Michigan State right-hander Andrew Waszak. The junior from Rochester, Mich., who entered the game ranked third in the Big Ten Conference with a 1.01 ERA, went seven innings and allowed two runs (both earned) on five hits with four strikeouts.
Proctor gave UC its first base hit of the game when he roped a single down the left-field line in the bottom of the first inning, but was thrown out at second as he tried to stretch the base hit into a double. From that point, Waszak did not allow another base runner until the sixth inning, a span of 14 batters.
The Bearcats finally got to Waszak in the bottom of the sixth inning when senior designated hitter T.J. Jones hit a one-out double down the right-field line. McAlpine pinch ran for Jones and scored two batters later when Williams dropped a single to right-center field for a two-out RBI that made the score 2-1 MSU.
UC freshman left-hander Zach Morris was relieved in place of redshirt sophomore LHP Jason Pascuzzi in the top of the seventh after allowing a lead-off double. Morris produced his second consecutive quality start after allowing just three runs on eight hits with three strikeouts in six-plus innings pitched.
Pascuzzi struck out the first batter he faced and allowed a single up the middle before getting pulled in place of freshman RHP Matthew Lathuras. The first batter Lathuras faced, Martinez, executed a sacrifice bunt single that scored the base runner on third base and put the Spartans up 3-1.
Cincinnati and Michigan State will conclude the three-game series at 1 p.m. Sunday at Marge Schott Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on Real Talk 1160 (WQRT-AM) and can be viewed on GoBEARCATS.com.