MSU baseball earns Easter Sunday victory in walk-off fashion, 3-2

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Campbell Berg

Campbell Berg

After six innings, Michigan State baseball’s offense looked lifeless as Rutgers held a 2-0 lead. The Scarlet Knights came into Easter Sunday 17-0 when they led at that point in the game.

The game ended with a freshman second baseman, Ryan McKay, lining a two-out, RBI single to drive in junior Nick Williams and deliver a 3-2 walk-off win and much-needed series victory for MSU (12-14, 3-3 Big Ten).

“I’ve never had a feeling like that,” McKay said. “I might’ve had walk-offs in the past, but nothing beats what just happened.”

The winning hit served as redemption for McKay, too. After the Spartans tied the game in the seventh, McKay had the chance to grab the lead with the bases loaded and just one out. He struck out, but McKay said he used what he had learned from it in the ninth.

“[RU’s Donovan Zsak] threw me two curve-balls, I took some questionable swings on, so I scooched up in the box because I was assuming I would get another one,” McKay said. “[RU’s Joey DeChiaro] hung one and then I just put a good swing on it.”

This was MSU’s first walk-off victory since it beat Eastern Michigan 11-10 in 11 innings on May 10 last year. It is also the Spartans’ lowest run total in a victory since a 3-2 finish one year ago Sunday, also against Rutgers, in Piscataway.

“To have such little runs for the other team helps us as an offense so much more,” said McKay.

Despite Rutgers (19-9, 1-2 Big Ten) having the best team batting average and second-highest scoring output in the conference, Michigan State held the Scarlet Knights in check through great performances by graduate Nick Ferazzi and freshman Logan Pikur on the mound.

Ferazzi pitched seven innings, allowing two earned runs, containing six of the seven hits he allowed to singles, and giving the bullpen an easier day on the final day of the series.

“I thought Nick did a really nice job today,” said MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr.

Pikur was the only Spartan to head to the mound from the bullpen Sunday. He threw the remaining two innings and kept Rutgers off of the scoreboard, including a situation where the Scarlet Knights had runners on first and third with two outs, where RU’s RJ Johnson Jr. lined out to left.

“Logan did a great job too,” Boss said. “Didn’t give up a hard-hit ball… he just got in there and competed.”

Campbell Berg

The Spartans needed to compete for that win. They would not have had the chance to walk it off without that critical seventh inning. The bats came to life once redshirt sophomore Jacob Anderson and freshman Landon Lozier hit doubles to get MSU on the board in the seventh. Shortly thereafter, senior Jack Frank went up the middle for an RBI single to tie it up after drawing three walks in as many plate appearances.

“We were just saying, in this situation, you really gotta just take it one pitch at a time,” McKay said on the mood in the dugout before the seventh inning. “You gotta be who you are.”

Themselves was enough to take the series against the third-best team in the Big Ten, according to college baseball’s RPI (Rating Percentage Index).

“Rutgers is a good team,” McKay said. “They had some really, really good arms and we ended up winning the series, so we have a whole lot of momentum going into the next weekend.”

The Spartans will look to take their momentum into one game in South Bend against Notre Dame on April 2, before the 2024 Crosstown Showdown against the Lansing Lugnuts and a weekend home series with Niagara.

“That’s all the momentum in the world right there,” McKay said.