EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan State baseball team had its eight-game winning streak snapped Saturday afternoon in its Big Ten opener as Ohio State edged the Spartans in a pitcher’s duel, 1-0, at McLane Baseball Stadium.
Spartan starter Tony Bucciferro threw eight scoreless innings and struck out nine while giving up just two hits, but was bested by Buckeye right-hander Jaron Long (1-1), who tossed a complete-game, five-hit shutout.
Bucciferro had to exit the game after the eighth with his pitch count at 122, and the Buckeyes (14-10, 2-2 Big Ten) took immediate advantage by scoring the game’s only run in the top of the ninth.
David Garner was called on to relieve Bucciferro, but Garner (1-3) walked the first two batters he faced and gave way to Trey Popp. Buckeye shortstop Kirby Pellant then sacrificed the runners to second and third with one out. Spartan closer Tony Wieber entered the game to face David Corna, and Corna delivered a 2-1 pitch to right field to bring home pinch runner Joe Ciamacco for the game-winning run.
Although the Spartans (15-8, 0-1 Big Ten) eventually got out of the jam with runners on first and third
with one down, it was the only run Ohio State would need.
In the bottom half of the ninth, Long issued his lone free pass of the afternoon by walking leadoff batter Anthony Cheky, but Cheky was thrown out at second trying to steal for the first out of the inning. Although Ryan Jones came through with a single, Jordan Keur hit into a 4-6-3 double play that ended the game.
The Spartans collected five hits overall, while Ohio State was limited to just three.
In his two home outings, Bucciferro has not allowed an earned run in 15 innings, but has two straight no decisions. Over his last three starts, Bucciferro has not given up an earned run since the first inning at Cincinnati on March 16, a current streak of 21 consecutive innings. His nine strikeouts were one shy of a career high he set against the Bearcats.
MSU’s best chance to score came in the bottom of the eighth. Joel Fisher reached first on a throwing error by Buckeye third baseman Brad Hallberg, and was pinch run for by Kevin Goergen. Goergen advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jimmy Pickens, and moved to third on a single to center by Justin Scanlon. But the Spartans fell to victim to the double play as Ryan Krill hit into a 1-4-6-3 twin killing
that ended the threat.
Ohio State only put three runners in scoring position against Bucciferro. In the second, Bucciferro uncharacteristically hit a batter and walked a batter to put runners on first and second with two out, but he fanned Greg Solomon looking to end the inning. In the seventh, Bucciferro allowed a leadoff single to Josh Dezse, who advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and a passed ball. Bucciferro then struck out the next two hitters, both swinging, to keep the game scoreless. Another leadoff single, this time to Patrick Porter, was wasted in the eighth for OSU. A sacrifice bunt did move Porter to second, but he was stranded after a groundout and a strikeout.
Long allowed just eight base runners the entire game and only Goergen in the eighth was in scoring position for the Spartans.
The loss also ends MSU’s streak of five straight wins in games decided by one run. The Spartans are now 5-5 in one-run games this season.
The two teams return to action for game two of the series Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. at McLane Baseball Stadium.