EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State baseball was defeated by Ohio State in a see-saw battle Sunday afternoon, 13-8, at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field in the final game of the three-game Big Ten Conference weekend series, despite two home runs from Dan Durkin.
MSU is now 20-12 on the year, 5-4 in B1G play, while OSU snapped a four-game losing streak overall in moving to 15-21 on the season, 4-8 in conference competition.
Despite Sunday’s loss, Michigan State won the weekend series, two games to one, after winning Friday and Saturday, 2-0 and 6-5, respectively, for the Spartans’ first series win over the Buckeyes since 2013. Ohio State was making its first visit to East Lansing since 2012, and the Spartans now have won four of the last five match-ups over their visitors from Columbus, as part of five of the last seven at home over Ohio State.
“The goal is to win a series for sure, and once you win two, you want to win the next one. If we’re going to get ourselves into the conference mix after being swept once, we felt like we needed to get one today,” MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr., said. “There’s still a long ways to go, we’ve got 15 more conference games left, so we’re not even half way through, but you’d like to take advantage when you feel like you have an opportunity and we just didn’t get it done today.”
Senior second baseman Durkin smacked two home runs, for his first multi-HR outing of his career, finishing with five RBI and three runs scored. Durkin now has six round-trippers this season, matching his season total from a year ago. The five RBI ties a career-high from at ACU earlier this season on Feb. 18, while the three runs scored tied a season-best from at Illinois on March 24.
“It was a good day today for Dan, he saw the ball well today. I thought he saw the ball well really all weekend, he was getting on base in different ways, but maybe didn’t have a result in the box score to show for it, but it was a good day for him for sure,” Boss said.
Sophomore right fielder Dan Chmielewski was 2-for-4 with an RBI, while freshman outfielder Robbie Jones was 1-for-3 with an RBI, and sophomore third baseman Marty Bechina was 1-for-4, also with a run driven in.
Michigan State scored its eight runs off eight hits, while Ohio State scored its 13 runs off 21 hits, led by Dominic Canzone with a 4-for-6 outing with three RBI.
“They had a good approach at the plate today. We could just never stop the bleeding and they just kept coming at us. We had a hard time commanding both sides of the plate today and when that happens, hitters sit on a certain location and they were able to get the barrel to the ball today,” Boss said.
Ohio State pulled away from a 2-2 tie after the first inning with one run in the second, two in the fourth and then six in the fifth for an 11-2 lead. Michigan State battled back with three in the sixth and one in the seventh to get back within 11-6. The Buckeyes added a run in each the eighth and ninth innings, sandwiched around two Spartan runs in the eighth.
“Our guys competed, I’m proud of them for that. We kept trying to get back in the ballgame offensively and put up some hits and scored some runs, we could just never get ourselves over the hump. It felt like we had momentum a couple times, but we’d have a strikeout at a bad time, or we’d make an error at a back time and give the momentum right back to them,” Boss said.
OSU got on the board as early as possible as leadoff hitter Jalen Washington smacked a home run to left for an early 1-0 lead after one batter. Tre’ Gantt followed with a double and later came around to score on a groundout to give the visitors a 2-0 lead.
The deficit was short-lived for the Spartans as sophomore Royce Ando drew a one-out walk, then Durkin blasted his first home run of the day on a two-run shot deep over the trees behind the right field fence and into the Red Cedar River.
OSU took its first lead of the series after a complete inning in the second with a run, adding two more in the fourth before batting around and plating six in the top of the fifth for an 11-2 lead.
The Spartans got within 11-5 in the bottom of the sixth, on a three-run home run by Durkin, after freshman outfielder Bryce Kelley doubled down the left field line and Ando walked.
MSU closed to 11-6 in the home half of the seventh after a single by Chmielewski then a double to left center from Jones, but the rally fizzled to end the threat.
After the Buckeyes added a run in the top of the eighth, the Spartans rallied with two of their own. Durkin led off with a walk and two batters later, sophomore designated hitter Alex Troop walked for two on with one out. Bechina then belted a single to right center to plate Durkin. Freshman Justin Antoncic came on to pinch run for Troop and scored on an RBI single by Chmielewski to pull the Spartans within 12-8 before the rally ended.
Ohio State tacked on an extra run with a home run by Brady Cherry on the first pitch of the inning for a 13-8 lead. In their last at bat, MSU got a one-out single by Ando, but a double play ended the game.
The Spartans 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. First pitch is slated for 6 p.m. Tuesday’s clash between the Spartans and Wolverines will be streamed on BTN Plus.
Michigan State resumes 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 updates.