Michigan State was just six outs away from advancing to the winner’s bracket semifinals at the 2012 Big Ten baseball tournament, but a late rally by Indiana and missed chances from the Spartans turned the tables. The Hoosiers put up four in the eighth to erase a 4-2 deficit, then kept MSU off the board after the Spartans loaded the bases with nobody out in the ninth to claim a 6-4 victory.
The Spartans now must win at least four and possibly five consecutive games to capture the conference crown and snap a 33-year NCAA Tournament drought.
Michigan State jumped out in front 3-0 in the second on back-to-back homers by Blaise Salter and Joel Fisher, with Salter’s plating two. Indiana knocked two runs off that lead in the fourth, but the Spartans tacked on an insurance run in the fifth when Jordan Keur brought home Ryan Jones with a sac fly.
The Hoosiers finally solved MSU starting pitcher Andrew Waszak in the decisive eighth, though, derailing what had been a terrific start from the Spartans’ junior.
A one-out RBI single from Indiana’s Sam Travis ended Waszak’s day, and reliever Jeff Kinley was unable to stamp out the fire. Michael Basil’s two-out, two-RBI double gave the Hoosiers their first lead at 5-4, and Dustin DuMuth brought Basil home with a single to up the edge to 6-4.
The Spartans loaded the bases on a walk and two singles in the top of the ninth, but failed to score.
Michigan State could play any of two possible opponents in its next game: Nebraska, which the Spartans defeated Wednesday 10-9 in a thriller, or Ohio State. The Cornhuskers eliminated Penn State during Thursday’s play. If top-seeded Purdue knocks off Ohio State in Thursday’s session finale, the Buckeyes and Cornhuskers would meet in Friday’s first game, with the winner advancing to play MSU; if Purdue loses Thursday’s nightcap, Michigan State and Nebraska would meet again.