Feb. 17, 2012
DUNEDIN, Fla. - St. John's clawed back from a 5-0 deficit with a pair of runs in both the seventh and eighth innings, but Michigan State plated six runs in the bottom of the eighth to notch an 11-4 win at the fourth annual Big Ten-BIG EAST Challenge. Matt Wessinger was 2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI to pace St. John's (0-1), which had its Opening Day winning-streak snapped at four games. Sean O'Hare was also 2-for-4, while Jeremy Baltz was 1-for-4 with an RBI triple. Kyle Hansen (0-1) took the loss, allowing two runs in 4.0 innings of work and racking up nine strikeouts. Torsten Boss had three RBI, while Ryan Jones, Justin Scanlon and Joel Fisher had two apiece to lead Michigan State (1-0). Tony Bucciferro (1-0) had six strikeouts in 6.0 scoreless innings to earn the win.
Despite Hansen striking out the side in the bottom of the first inning, Michigan State took a 1-0 lead on a two-out solo home run by Boss.
Hansen racked up three more strikeouts in the second inning, but the Spartans were able to add a run to go up 2-0. After back-to-back strikeouts, Hansen issued a walk before Jimmy Pickens added an RBI double. The righty added a strikeout in a 1-2-3 third and had two more Ks in the fourth inning to keep it a 2-0 game.
Bucciferro, meanwhile, retired the first 13 batters he faced before Wessinger roped a one-out double in the top of the fifth. Wessinger advanced to third on an error, but Bucciferro kept the Red Storm off the board.
Kevin Kilpatrick took the ball in the fifth and retired the first two batters before allowing a Jones triple. After a Scanlon RBI single, Boss singled and Fisher added an RBI single to give the Spartans a 4-0 lead. Kilpatrick got out of the jam and left the bases loaded with a strikeout.
The Spartans added a run in the sixth after Jordan Keur set the table with a leadoff double. Keur moved to third on a groundout before Jones made it 5-0 with an RBI double.
Michigan State lifted Bucciferro in the seventh and St. John's immediately got on the board with a pair of runs. After O'Hare singled and advanced to second on a balk, Baltz roped an RBI triple to make it a 5-1 game and chase reliever Ryan Martin. Wessinger then greeted Mike Theodore with an RBI double as the Red Storm pulled to within 5-2. Theodore, however, retired the next two batters to end the inning.
The Red Storm tacked on two more runs in the eighth after Robert Case drew a leadoff walk to set the table. Case advanced to second on a groundout before Anthony Iacomini plated a run with an RBI single. O'Hare followed with a two-out single and Michigan State went to the bullpen and brought in Tony Wieber. Baltz then reached on a fielding error as Iacomini came home to make it a 5-4 ballgame, but a Wessinger flyout ended the threat.
The first six Michigan State batters reached base in a six-run eighth inning as the Spartans took an 11-4 lead. Keur and Pickens greeted Matt Carasiti with back-to-back singles before Kevin Goergen was plunked to load the bases. Jones was then plunked to force in a run before Scanlon drew a bases loaded walk to make it 7-4 and chase Carasiti from the game. Boss greeted reliever Jerome Werniuk with a two-run single before an RBI groundout and a two-out RBI single made it 11-4.
St. John's returns to action on Feb. 18 for a 1 p.m. game against Minnesota at the Walter Fuller Complex in St. Petersburg.