UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Michigan State baseball took the series from Penn State and won 2-1 on Saturday afternoon at Medlar Park. The Spartans trailed 1-0 heading into the ninth but scored two runs in the final inning to steal the win. MSU moved to 33-17 and 12-9 in the Big Ten following the win.
Michigan State finished in seventh place in the Big Ten, missing the Big Ten Tournament for the first time since 2010. Illinois won its series over Minnesota and Michigan took its over Nebraska to hold onto the last two spots. The top-six teams advanced to the conference tournament in a race that came down the final day.
"It's very disappointing," head coach Jake Boss said. "Give our guys credit for battling back today and at least giving ourselves a shot. At the end of the day we left it in somebody else's hands. We've made our bed and now we have to lie in it. It's tough when you can't control your own destiny. We didn't take care of business when we needed to and that's the result we get. It's something that we're going to have to live with. We have to get ready for next fall and make sure it never happens again."
Sophomore right-hander Mick VanVossen was exceptional on the mound for the Spartans. He tossed eight innings and allowed just one run on four hits. He struck out five and walked two in the win.
"Mick was lights out today," Boss said. "He really only got himself into trouble once or twice. He was able to get out of it and had runners at first and third with one out and got out of that with only giving up one run. That was huge for us and gave us a chance to win. He really competed his tail off for us today and at a time where we really needed him to. I was very impressed with his outing today. He kept us in it and gave us a chance."
Penn State scored its only run in the sixth inning on an RBI-groundout from J.C. Coban. James Coates went 2-for-3 for the Nittany Lions.
In the ninth, Ryan Richardson put himself in scoring position after leading off with a walk and advanced to second on a passed ball. Jimmy Pickens was the go-ahead run at the plate with the Spartans trailing 1-0. Pickens tripled to deep right field to score Richardson, keeping the Spartans in the game.
Anthony Cheky sent in Pickens on an RBI-fielder's choice and it that was all MSU would need.
Freshman Justin Alleman relieved VanVossen in the ninth and earned his seventh save of the season for the Spartans.
Alleman retired the side on three consecutive strikeouts. Coban, Zach Eli and Alex Farkes went down in order, all swinging.
The Spartans end the season with a program-best fourth straight 30-win season and the winningest senior class in school history. The 2013 class of Trevor Cousineau, Cody Huge, Jordan Keur, Trey Popp, Andrew Waszak and Joe Zwierzynski notched 140 wins, besting last year's mark of 130 wins.
"It's a special group of guys," Boss said. "It's tough to say good bye to them. They have deserved all of the accolades that they've got and there have been a lot of them. For those guys again to be able to say that nobody's won more games in a Michigan State uniform than that senior class is a testament to their leadership, skill competitiveness and drive to be successful.
"It's an extremely impressive group of young men and I know they are going to be successful, hopefully some of them in the game of baseball. All of them will be very successful in anything they do beyond Michigan State University. I know they are going to represent us well down the road. It's been an honor for me to coach them and they deserve all the successes they have earned."