Feb. 27, 1998
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Iowa pushed across the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh to edge Michigan State, 3-2, as the Spartan baseball squad opened a three-game set at the Blue-Gray Classic in Montgomery, Ala.
The loss marks the third one-run defeat for the Spartans this season, as they fall to 1-3. The Hawkeyes, playing their season-opener, rise to 1-0. The contest does not count in the conference standings.
After Iowa jumped on the board first in the top of the second, the Spartans responded. Mike Wagner and Mark Mulder each clubbed solo home runs in the second and third innings to gain a 2-1 advantage for Michigan State. But the Hawkeyes clawed back into it, notching single runs in both the fifth and seventh innings to take the game, 3-2.
Despite his second straight quality start, MSUis Brian Murphy takes the tough-luck loss. Murphy struck out seven over 6.2 innings, while giving up nine hits and walking no one. Despite a strong 3.09 ERA, Murphy falls to 0-1 on the season, as the MSU offense has only scored three runs during his two starts. Lefty Kimya Massey finished out the game for the Spartans, not allowing a Hawkeye hit over the final 2.1 innings.
By fanning seven, Murphy moves into ninth place on Michigan Stateis all-time strikeout list with 144.
Iowa southpaw Steve Rasmussen (1-0) notched the victory, with reliever James Magrane coming in two pick up the save, as he held the Hawkeye 3-2 lead over the final three innings.
Mulder and catcher Carlos Fernandez each posted two hits and a walk, as Fernandez raised his season batting average to .600 (6-10) and on-base percentage to .666 (8-12), both team-leading marks.
An intriguing match-up is scheduled for 3 p.m. EST on Saturday, as MSUis preseason All-American hurler Mark Mulder gets the start against Troy State. The Trojans have been one of the top offenses in the country thus far this season, averaging 11.5 runs per game while boasting an 8-2 slate. Mulder, the 1997 Big Ten ERA leader (2.26), checks into the affair averaging 16.20 strikeouts per nine innings this season, as he has only given up two hits (both singles) during his five innings of work.
NOTES: For the third consecutive game, the Spartan gloves played flawless defense, as MSU has not committed an error since their opening game. The Michigan State fielding percentage now stands at .983 this seasonOeWagner and Mulder, each of whom belted their first home runs of the season during the Iowa game, are the only Spartans who have opened the season with four-game hitting streaksOe The Spartan staff has 32 Ks in 30.1 inningsOeJunior transfer Mike Wagner has shown to be a productive Big Ten player, as he has posted a .412 on-base percentage while holding down the Spartan leadoff spotOe As a team, MSU is hitting .276 this season, while their opponents hold just a .213 markOeSophomore second baseman Ted Demetral has now struck out only once in 101 career non-conference at-bats, as he put his bat on the ball in each of three at bats, despite going 0-3.