MSU Clipped By No. 16 Minnesota, 3-1, In Series Finale Sunday
Spartans fall in rubber match of series
MINNEAPOLIS -- Michigan State baseball battled No. 16 Minnesota tough Sunday afternoon before falling 3-1, in the rubber match of the three-game series at the Gophers' Siebert Field.
The Spartans won the opener of the series on Friday, 6-5, before falling 10-5 on Saturday. MSU is now 18-28 overall and 9-11 in B1G action. Minnesota improved to a 34-13 overall and 16-4 B1G record, remaining atop the B1G standings.
"I'm proud of the way our guys competed, we gave them all they could handle and that's a good ball club over there," MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. said. "We had some opportunities today, but they made some pitches when they had to and that's what good teams do. I take my hat of to them, that's as good of a club as I think we've played all year long. This weekend was three very, very good ballgames, tough to come away with one win, and I feel like we played pretty well all weekend long, with the exception of one bad inning yesterday."
Freshman third baseman Zach Iverson was 1-for-3 with an RBI, driving in senior designated hitter Chad Roskelly, who singled in the fifth to spark the Spartans' rally. Roskelly was 1-for-4 with the run scored, and junior right fielder Marty Bechina was also 1-for-4. Sophomore center fielder Danny Gleaves was also 1-for-4 and added a stolen base, his 22nd of the season, ranking second both on the team and in the Big Ten behind sophomore left fielder Bryce Kelley's 27 base swipes. Kelley is tied for No. 3 on MSU's individual single-season stolen base list, while Gleaves moved up to tie for No. 8 with Sunday's swipe.
Sunday's stolen base by Gleaves was MSU's 88th this season, moving up to tied for third on MSU's team single-season stolen base list, matching the 2014 squad and marking the third time in the last five years that MSU has swiped 88 or more bases, as along with the 2014 team, the 2017 Spartans have the No. 2 spot with 96 stolen bases. The 2005 team holds the record with 98 base swipes.
"Those guys have been lights out all weekend and all year long," Boss said. "There's nobody I'd rather have the ball in their hands in that situation at the end of the game than Riley McCauley, and Mitchell Tyranski has turned into an outstanding set up guy. Both of those guys have been terrific for us."
The first two innings were three-up and three-down for both sides, as sophomore starting pitcher Mike Mokma was solid on the mound for MSU. Minnesota had a leadoff single in the first by Luke Pettersen, but he was erased by freshman catcher Adam Proctor firing a laser to senior shortstop Kory Young for the tag to nab Pettersen trying to steal.
Minnesota broke through by plating two runs in the home half of the third, stringing together three hits.
The Spartans quickly tried to counter, threatening in the top of the fourth with Gleaves leading off with the bunt single to third. Gleaves later stole second and moved to third on a groundout, but was thrown out at home trying to score on an infield hit.
MSU again threatened in the top of the fifth, as Iverson and Proctor both walked and later moved up to second and third with two outs, but the rally fizzled.
The Spartans got on the board in the sixth, with Roskelly reaching on a swinging bunt single. Two batters later, Bechina singled to left field, and Iverson later single up the middle to plate Roskelly and cut the gap in half at 2-1.
MSU tried to rally in the eighth with Gleaves leading off by reaching on a Gopher error, and advancing to third on a pair of groundouts, but the rally fizzled to end the threat. The Spartans went down in order in the ninth to end the game.
Michigan State returns to the Mitten State for its final four games of the regular-season, heading to Central Michigan on Tuesday. First pitch from Mt. Pleasant is slated for 4 p.m. The Spartans then wrap up Big Ten action by hosting Ohio State in a three-game series, Thursday-Saturday, at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field. Thursday and Friday's game have 4:05 p.m. first pitch times, with Saturday's series and regular-season finale scheduled for a 1:05 p.m. start. Saturday is also the Spartans' Senior Day, honoring their seniors in a pre-game ceremony.
The Spartans and Gophers wrap up the series finale on Sunday afternoon with a 2 p.m. ET first pitch.
Any schedule updates will be announced on www.MSUSpartans.com and on twitter @statebaseball.