Ohio State outlasted Michigan State on Saturday afternoon, countering an MSU three-run rally in the top of the seventh with a walkoff three-run homer in the bottom of the frame to claim the middle game of the series, 9-7.
The Friday game was a pitcher's duel, but the Saturday matchup belonged to the hitters, as the two teams combined for 16 runs, five homers, and a total of 21 hits on the day. MSU (26-27, 7-15 B1G) lost for just the second time in the last six games, while Ohio State improved 32-16-1, 13-8-1 in Conference action.Dani Goranson threw five innings in relief of Bridgette Rainey, while OSU was forced to use three pitchers on the day - Starter Lena Springer (5 IP) and reliever Shelby Hursh, who started yesterday and tossed 1.2 innings on Saturday, each allowed three runs, while Morgan Ray ended up with the win despite surrendering the go-ahead Spartan runs in the top of the seventh inning.
It was a game where the lead changed three times, and MSU thought it had grasped the momentum whenLea Foerster and Sarah Gutknecht had back-to-back RBI hits for the visitors in the top of the seventh inning to turn a 6-4 deficit into a 7-6 lead. However, a leadoff double and a walk set up the game-winning blast from the bat of Maddy McIntyre, who sent a bomb over the wall in left to take the second game of the series.
The teams will meet on Sunday in the rubber match of the series. First pitch at Buckeye Field will be 3 pm for a game that will air live on the Big Ten Network.
Lindsey Besson hit her fifth home run of the season and had a pair of RBI. Kassidy Kujawa hit her second round-tripper of the series and seventh of the season to claim the team lead. Lea Foerster had a pair of doubles in a 3-for-4 performance and posted a pair of RBI. Dani Goranson entered in relief in the second inning, and finished the game. She scattered 11 hits and allowed seven runs, striking out two and walking one.
"Obviously I will never be happy with a loss, but I'm absolutely happy with the way we battled and competed. Credit where it's due, because OSU scored nine runs on 14 hits - but we competed, and fought with them to the end. We were tough, we got timely hits, and Ohio State just had the last blow in a game where we traded big plays with them all day. "
-- Head coach Jacquie Joseph
STATS AND STORYLINES
MSU struck first in the bottom of the second. With two outs on the board, Shanin Thomas' patience paid off by earning a walk - and Lindsey Besson's fifth home run of the year over the wall in left gave MSU an early lead, 2-0. Ashley Goodwin countered with a two-run shot in the bottom of the second inning to knot the game at 2-2, giving the Buckeyes their first runs of the series. Rainey walked Leonard on four pitches right after the home run, and Dani Goranson entered in relief. She got out of the inning ith a double play. With one down in the third, Cammi Prantl doubled down the right field line, and Emily Clark singled to put runners at the corners. Maddy McIntyre followed with a shot that looked like trouble off the bat, but Celeste Wood did a nice job of corralling it in right - but Prantl came home on the sac fly for OSU's first lead of the weekend, 3-2. The Spartans tied the game in the top of the fifth on an RBI double by Lea Foerster, her second two-bagger of the day. However, Prantl regained the lead for the home team in the bottom of the frame, hitting a two-run shot into right center for a 5-3 lead. After the Buckeyes made a pitching change for the top of the sixth, bringing Shelby Hursh into the game.Kassidy Kujawa hit her second home run of the series and her seventh of the season with two outs, sending a ball into the street behind the left-field wall to cut the OSU lead to 5-4. Pinch hitter Jess Machovina doubled into right field with one on and one out in the bottom of the sixth inning, putting a pair of runners into scoring position. A ground ball by Taylor White brought home an insurance run that made it 6-4, but Goranson got a big strikeout - she got Alex Bayne to go down looking - to end the frame. Besson led off the top of the seventh with a four-pitch walk to get a runner on. Pinch hitter Lexi White struck out, and Wood flew out to center that was an impressive play by the center fielder for the second out of the inning. Hursh walked McKenzie Long to put two batters on for Lea Foerster, The Buckeyes made a pitching change, their second of the game, to bring in Morgan Rey, who gave up and RBI single right up the middle to Foerster to make it 6-5. Sarah Gutknecht, who was 0-for-3 on the day, smacked a single off the wall in right that scored both runners, but nabbed her at second base to end the inning - but not before she gave MSU a 7-6 lead. Prantl led off the bottom of the seventh with a double to left center, and Goranson walked Clark to bring up McIntyre - and the senior delivered the big blast for a three-run homer and a walkoff win for the homestanding Buckeyes. Kassidy Kujawa's seventh home run of the season gave her sole possession of fifth place on the MSU career home run list, with 21 career round-trippers. Lea Foerster's pair of doubles gives her 15 on the season, which is good for a tie for fourth place in MSU's single-season record book. The three hits pushed her season total to a career-best 62. MSU's leadoff batters went just 1-for-7 in the game, but went 7-for-12 at the plate with two outs - and all seven MSU RBI on the day came with two outs on the scoreboard.