MSU Splits Doubleheader With Valpo In Pair Of One-Run Ballgames
Spartans walk-off to win opener, 5-4 in 12 innings, before dropping game two, 7-6.
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State baseball split a doubleheader with Valparaiso, winning the opener, 5-4 in 12 innings, before dropping the second game, 7-6, Friday afternoon at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field.
Sophomore center fielder Justin Antoncic drove in freshman shortstop Ryan King for the walk-off win with a single to left in the 12th inning, for MSU’s longest game since a 14-inning contest vs. Central Michigan on April 13, 2016. It was the second walk-off victory for MSU this season and first at home, after beating Arizona, 3-2, on March 4 in Minneapolis. The Spartans rallied from down 4-2 in the seventh inning to earn the victory.
“It was a really good win in game one, even though we didn’t have many good at bats late in the game,” MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. said. “I thought we were getting ourselves out an awful lot, even in the bottom of the 12th, but we finally hit a ball hard. Justin hit a first pitch and put a good swing on it and that’s what we’re capable of, so it was a real good win.”
The second game was flipped as MSU led 6-3 after three innings, but Valpo plated four runs in the top of the fourth for the lead.
“We kicked it all over the park, we didn’t locate the strike zone, and when you don’t play good defense you’re going to have a hard time beating anybody. We knew that’s a very offensive club, we talked about it all week long, and if you give them extra opportunities and more chances, they’re going to take advantage of it and that’s exactly what happened,” Boss said. “We just played horrendous defense early in the game on the infield and they made us pay for it, so before you know it, you take a 6-3 lead and you give it away and you end up losing 7-6.”
Antoncic was 3-for-5 with two RBI in the opener, while King was 2-for-5 with a run scored. King’s classmate, second baseman Zach Iverson was also 2-for-5 with a run scored. Junior third baseman Marty Bechina was 1-for-4, but it was a big one with a solo home run, part of his two runs scored and two home runs on the day. Senior designated hitter Chad Roskelly was 1-for-4 with an RBI, while sophomore left fielder Bryce Kelley was 1-for-3 with a run driven in.
In game two, Bechina was 2-for-2 with his aforementioned second round-tripper of the day, and part of his two runs scored. Iverson, Kelley and Roskelly were all 2-for-5 with Kelley scoring twice and Iverson driving in two. Junior catcher Nic Lacayo was 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored. King and junior right fielder Dan Chmielewski were both 1-for-4.
Kelley also swiped two bases in the second game, adding to his Big Ten leading total now up to 21 stolen bases, moving up to tie for fourth in the NCAA.
Senior reliever Jake Lowery picked up the win on the mound in game one, pitching 2.0 IP, striking out two. Fellow senior Ethan Landon started the game, going 6.1 IP, striking out six while scattering four hits and yielding two runs. Sophomore reliever Mitchell Tyranski got the final two outs of the seventh, before junior Riley McCauley pitched 3.0 IP, tallying four strikeouts while spraying three hits, before giving way to Lowery.
Game two’s starter was redshirt-freshman Mason Erla, who went 4.0 IP and was dealt the loss after allowed eight hits and seven runs. Junior reliever Evan Flohr also went 4.0, striking out three, before Lowery pitched the ninth, chalking up two more strikeouts, giving him three strikeouts in as many innings of work.
In the opener, the Spartans got on the board first with a sacrifice fly to center by Kelley, scoring senior first baseman Zack McGuire who led off with a walk, and giving MSU an early 1-0 lead.
The visiting Crusaders quickly tied it up in the top of the third with a two-out rally, drawing a walk and then a double down the left field line, leveling the score at 1-all.
MSU took a 2-1 lead in the fifth with Bechina sparking the rally with a walk and moving to second on a sac bunt and to third on a groundout, and scoring on a swinging bunt single by Antoncic for a 2-1 Spartan advantage.
The Crusaders put three runs on the board in the top of the seventh on a pair of home runs, with Scott Kapers hitting a solo shot to lead off the frame and Sam Shaikin belting a two-run round-tripper, and Valpo took a 4-2 lead.
The Spartans got a run back nearly immediately after fans had sat down from the seventh-inning stretch with Bechina blasting a one-out home run off the scoreboard in left. MSU tied it an inning later with Iverson starting the rally with a double to left center. After advancing to third, Iverson was plated by Roskelly with an RBI single to right to knot the score at 4-4, which it remained for the next inning, sending the game to extras.
Valpo got two runners on in both the 10th and 11th innings, but the Spartan defense and pitching thwarted the threats, before Antoncic’s heroics in the bottom of the 12th for the victory for MSU.
In game two, the Crusaders jumped out to an early 1-0 lead before the Spartans had even batted, taking advantage of a pair of MSU errors in the top of the first.
The home team leveled the score in bottom of the opening inning on an RBI double down by Iverson down the right field line.
Another RBI double started the Spartans’ scoring in the second inning, this time by Lacayo, with Iverson also added an RBI single, and when all was said and done, MSU had scored four runs in the inning to open a 5-1 lead.
After a two-run HR by Valpo’s Giovanni Garbella in the top of the third pulled the visitor’s within 5-3, Bechina belted his second home run of the day, blasting a line drive down the left field line into the trees for a 6-3 lead in the bottom of the frame.
However, that was a short-lived score as the Crusaders scored four runs in the top of the fourth, loading the bases before Blake Billinger cleared them with a three-run double, and he later scored on a Garbella double.
That would be all the scoring, despite the Spartans threatening in the fifth, leaving two runners one, as well as the sixth and eighth frames, stranding runners. MSU again rallied in the ninth, getting a two-out double by Roskelly, but a groundout ended the rally, the game and the doubleheader.
The Spartans and Crusaders are scheduled to wrap up their series on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field.
Any schedule updates will be announced on www.MSUSpartans.com and on twitter @statebaseball.