MSU Nipped By Notre Dame, 8-7, Tuesday
Spartans rally from eight-run deficit comes up short, halting three-game win streak.
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State baseball’s rally came up a run short in an 8-7 loss to Notre Dame Tuesday at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field, snapping MSU’s three-game win streak.
The Spartans were down 8-0 entering the seventh inning, but plated seven runs, including home runs from freshman catcher Adam Proctor and senior designated hitter Chad Roskelly, to close within a run, but couldn’t complete the comeback. It was MSU’s ninth 1-run game this season, tied for sixth-most in the country.
“Our guys never quit, I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it’s a great, unbelievable character group of kids that you know they’re never going to pack it in, they’re never going to fold and they just keep plugging away and all of a sudden before you know it, you put a big number up in the seventh inning and got ourselves right back into the ball game,” Spartan head coach Jake Boss Jr. said.
Tuesday was the third-straight 1-run loss to Notre Dame, and the fourth 1-run game in the last seven meetings with the Irish. MSU still leads the all-time series, 79-57, winning 16 of the last 21 match-ups with Notre Dame.
Proctor belted his first home run of his Spartan career on a three-run shot in the seventh for MSU’s first runs of the big seventh inning. The Spartan freshman catcher continued his hot return to the MSU lineup after being out with an injury, now with five hits, including two for extra bases, in his last three games back in action.
“He had a tough couple weeks; he missed some time with some shoulder stiffness and we were careful with him,” Boss said “He’s a talented kid and he’s got a bright future, so we were a very conservative approach and wanted to make sure he was back and healthy. I think him getting a chance to sit back and watch a little bit really helped him on the offensive side of it too. He’s seeing the ball great, hit a couple, obvious a home run today, but I think he just missed another one earlier in the game and a high fly ball, hit a couple hard, but just missed a couple, so I think he’s seeing the ball pretty good right now and feeling pretty comfortable.”
Along with Proctor, Roskelly had a two-run blast into the trees beyond the left field fence for his third round-tripper of the season, all two-run shots, and tying senior first baseman Zack McGuire for the team lead for home runs. McGuire had a two-run double Tuesday to round out the Spartans’ seven RBI, as eight different players had one hit apiece.
Sophomore Mike Mokma was dealt the loss on the mound after going 4.0 innings, scattering eight hits while yielding five runs. Freshman Jesse Heikkinen pitching 1.1 inning of relief, followed by sophomore Caleb Sleeman with 1.2 IP, tallying four strikeouts, while junior Evan Flohr threw 2.0 IP, ringing up three strikeouts.
Zack Martin got the win for the Irish, going 6.0 IP, while Cole Kmet picked up the save. Kmet is on the Irish football team and had spring football practice Wednesday morning before joining the baseball team for the trip to East Lansing.
Notre Dame darted out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the second, striking together four-straight singles, followed by a double, plating three runs before the inning ended with two Irish runners still on base.
The visiting Irish plated two runs in the top of the fourth on a sacrifice fly and a home run over the right field fence into the Red Cedar River by Cole Daily for a 5-0 lead. That lead grew to 6-0 in the fifth, as the Irish loaded the bases with no outs, but the Spartan defense got a double play to get out of the jam with just one run being scored. Notre Dame added two runs in the visitor’s sixth on a two-run double by Matt Vierling.
The Spartans closed the gap by hanging seven runs on the board in the bottom of the seventh, sending 10 batters to the plate with freshman shortstop Ryan King starting the rally with a walk, followed by junior third baseman Marty Bechina roping a double down the left field line, chasing ND starter Zack Martin, as the Irish made a pitching change.
Proctor rudely welcomed new Notre Dame pitcher Anthony Holubecki by belting a three-run home run over the fence in right field and into the Red Cedar River. Sophomore left fielder Bryce Kelley and fellow sophomore, center fielder Justin Antoncic, singled and reached on an error, respectively. After a pair of pop ups, McGuire laced a double down the left field line to plate Kelley and Antoncic. Roskelly followed with his two-run home run into the top of the trees beyond the wall in left field to bring the Spartans within 8-7, but the comeback came up short.
It was MSU’s second game in the last three outings with a big seventh inning, scoring nine in the seventh in last Saturday’s win over Nebraska.
Flohr kept the Irish bats quiet in the eighth and ninth, holding them to just one hit, but the Spartans were unable to get a rally started, going down in order in the eighth and ninth to end the game.
The Spartans continue their four-game non-conference stretch hosting teams from Indiana, welcoming Valparaiso to McLane Stadium at Kobs Field for a three-game non-conference series Friday-Sunday, April 13-15. The Spartans-Crusaders clash opens on Friday at 3:05, followed by Saturday and Sunday with 1:05 p.m. start times. While Tuesday will be the 136th all-time meeting between Michigan State and Notre Dame, last meeting a year ago, MSU has only nine previous meetings with Valparaiso, with the last match-up coming in 1994.
Any schedule updates will be announced on www.MSUSpartans.com and on twitter @statebaseball.