MSU Clipped By No. 10 Clemson, 9-7, Wednesday
Spartans open action in Greenville with competitive battle with nationally-ranked Tigers.
GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Michigan State baseball was clipped by No. 10 Clemson, 9-7, Wednesday night at Fluor Field, home of the Greenville Drive, with a ninth-inning rally coming up short.
The Spartans loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth, but a popup and a strikeout ended the threat and the game. Junior third baseman Marty Bechina belted a deep drive to left that drifted foul before the strikeout.
MSU suffered defeat to a top 15 ranked opponent for the second time in its last three games, after losing to No. 11 UCLA last Saturday in Minneapolis. The Spartans are now 3-8 on the season with five of the losses decided by two runs or less. Overall, MSU has now been involved in seven games so far this season that were decided by two or fewer runs. Clemson improves to 12-1 on the season. Wednesday was the Tigers' second-straight win over the Spartans, after last year's 9-2 win at Fluor Field, but MSU still leads the all-time series, 10-9-1.
Junior second baseman Royce Ando was 4-for-5 with a run scored, tying a career-high for hits. Sophomore outfielder Justin Antoncic was 2-for-3 with an RBI single in the second, part of MSU's three-run frame to open a 5-0 lead, adding another run in the third. Antoncic also had a double to go with two walks and was hit by a pitch, not being retired until the ninth inning. Sophomore outfielder Bryce Kelley was 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI, while freshman shortstop Ryan King was 2-for-5, also with a run scored and an RBI.
"I thought we got a little bit better offensively, tonight. Justin Antoncic had a big night for us and Royce Ando was very good tonight. Bryce Kelley is starting to swing it a little better and I thought Ryan King had another good night as well. But there are no moral victories. We had our opportunities both offensively and on the defensive side, but we couldn't stop the bleeding in the fifth. We were one pitch away from being out of that inning, the entire inning, but we couldn't figure out a way to get it done, and that's not good enough," MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. said.
Clemson was led by Kyle Wilkie, who was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored, while leadoff hitter Logan Davidson was 2-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored. Chris Williams was also 2-for-4 with a run driven in and a run scored.
The Tigers batted around and plated nine runs on seven hits, facing three different MSU pitchers in the inning, but couldn't get out of the jam, with two hits and what proved to be the winning runs, all coming with two outs.
"Again, I commend the way our guys competed, they gave us a chance to win in the ninth and that was great to see, but at the end of the night, we've got to get it done. Playing a good team like Clemson, there's very little room for error, and we made too many mistakes on the mound. We walked eight guys and playing a very offensive club like Clemson, you can't give them extra bases, and they certainly took advantage of it."
Michigan State remains at Fluor Field for the weekend, hosting the ninth-annual First Pitch Invitational on Friday-Sunday, March 9-11. The Spartans lead off action against Furman on Friday, March 9 at 6 p.m., then take on Big Ten Conference foe Illinois on Saturday, March 10 at 5 p.m. and Sunday, March 11 at 11 a.m. in a pair of non-conference contests, with the weekend schedule subject to change.