EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State baseball shut out Ohio State, 2-0, Friday at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field in the opener of the three-game Big Ten Conference series, as the Spartans posted their first shutout of the season.
Friday was a successful return to McLane Stadium at Kobs Field for the Spartans, returning home after relocating last weekend’s three-game series against Fresno State to Grand Rapids due to wet field conditions after the Red Cedar River overflowed throughout the MSU campus.
“The field is beautiful. The groundskeepers did a tremendous job all week, really almost working around the clock to get it ready. It played great today, you would have never known that five days ago there was all the water out here that there was. It’s good to play at home, good to get a win at home and good to get a win on a Friday at home, so all-in-all a good day for us,” MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr., said.
With Friday’s win, MSU improved to 19-11 overall, winning four of its last five games, while improving to 4-3 in B1G play. Ohio State suffered its third-straight loss in sliding to 14-20 overall and 3-7 in conference action. Friday’s win also snapped the Spartans’ four-game losing skid to the Buckeyes. This weekend is Ohio State’s first visit to East Lansing since 2012.
The Spartans and Buckeyes continue their three-game series with game two on Saturday with first pitch slated for 1:05 p.m., before wrapping the weekend on Sunday, also at 1:05 p.m. start time. Saturday’s game is Military Appreciation Day at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field.
Sophomore Alex Troop fired seven strikeouts in 6.0 innings of work Friday, scattering three hits while yielding four walks. Troop improved to 5-2 on the season and lowered his Big Ten-best ERA to 1.50. It was Troop’s third-straight game with seven or more strikeouts and his sixth outing in last seven games with six or more strikeouts.
Junior right-hander Jake Lowery fired 2.1 IP with three strikeouts and one hit, before giving way to senior lefty Joe Mockbee in a match-up with two OSU left-handed batters, striking them both out to register his first save of the season and eighth of his career.
“Our pitching has been really, really good. Alex got deep into the game and then turned it over to a very, very strong bullpen and it’s exciting for the first shutout of the year for those guys,” Boss said.
Friday’s shutout was the Spartans’ first blanking since April 23 of last season against Indiana.
At the plate, MSU’s first four hits were extra bases with three doubles and a triple, not getting a single until the Spartans’ fifth hit of the ballgame, finishing with seven hits on the day. Sophomore shortstop Royce Ando was 2-for-3 with two doubles, with the second one driving in MSU’s second run of the game in the fourth inning. Senior catcher Matt Byars was 1-for-3 with a double and scored on Ando’s RBI double. Freshman outfielder Bryce Kelley was 1-for-4 with an RBI triple. Junior pinch-hitter Chad Roskelly smacked a double in the eighth for MSU’s fifth extra base hit of the afternoon.
“We had some opportunities that we probably let slip away, but we did get a big triple out of Bryce Kelley and we were able to squeeze another one across there with the RBI double by Ando,” Boss said.
The Spartans got out of an early jam in the top of the first as the Buckeyes got runners on first and third with two outs, but Noah McGowan was thrown out trying to steal second as Byars threw down to second baseman Dan Durkin, who then got McGowan in a rundown, and flipped to junior first baseman Zack McGuire, who bobbled the ball at first, then gathered it and dove to tag McGowan for the out and end the inning.
MSU got on the board in the bottom of the third as freshman outfielder Danny Gleaves reached on a fielder’s choice and Kelley smacked a triple to right to drive Gleaves in and give the Spartans a 1-0 lead.
The home team used a pair of doubles to double its lead in the fourth, first by Byars and then by Ando to score Byars for the 2-0 lead.
MSU loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth, but the rally fizzled, keeping the score 2-0. OSU threatened in the top of the sixth, with a walk and a double, but Troop got out of the jam with a popup, holding the Buckeyes off the board, as they had throughout the game.
From there, the Spartan bullpen kept the Buckeye bats quiet to secure the 2-0 victory for MSU.
After this weekend’s series at home, Michigan State will be on the road for all four games next week, opening with a trip to Ann Arbor to play Michigan on Tuesday, May 18 in a non-conference midweek contest. The Spartans resume B1G action with a trip to College Park, Md., to take on league preseason favorite Maryland in a three-game weekend series April 21-23. MSU returns home to host Toledo on Wednesday, April 26 at 3:05 p.m. at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field.
Fans should stay tuned to www.MSUSpartans.com or follow MSU Baseball on twitter at statebaseball for any schedule and location updates.