Spartans Fall at Iowa, 5-1
April 19, 2014
East Lansing, Mich. - - MSU dropped the middle game of a three-game set to Iowa on Saturday afternoon, leaving 13 runners on base in a 5-1 loss to the Hawkeyes. The loss denies Michigan State its first three-game winning streak of the season, and the Spartans fall to 11-29, 3-13 in the Big Ten. Iowa is 13-24, 6-10 in Conference games.
Freshman pitcher Shayla Starkenburg pitched a complete game, allowing seven hits, walking seven Spartan batters, and striking out four. MSU freshman Valerie Kaff allowed just one more hit than Starkenburg, scattering eight hits, walking none, an allowing just two earned runs. The Spartans committed two errors.
"I thought their pitcher had a perfect `Bend, don't break' outing," said head coach Jacquie Joseph. "When she needed an out, she got one. We have struggled all year with timely hitting - moving runners over, getting those two-out hits that can generate a run. At any time today, with a couple of timely hits, we could have taken control of the game. It's an issue, and something we have to continue to stress and work on."
Catcher Holly Hoffman had a 3-for-3 outing at the plate for Iowa, with one RBI. She was the only Hawkeye with multiple hits, while Claire Fritsch (triple) and Megan Blank each had a hit and an RBI. For the Spartans, both Kassidy Kujawa (who had her debut in the leadoff spot) and McKinzie Freimuth went 2-for-3.
Things looked good for MSU, which scored right off the bat in the top of the first inning. Alyssa McBride earned a one-out walk, and Sarah Gutknecht followed her with a shot to center that scored McBride for the freshman's team-best ninth double of the season, giving MSU. Stephanie Sanders was walked - the second walk of the inning for Starkenburg - to put runners on first and second. Lindsey Besson was able to move the runners to second and third with a comebacker to the mound, but Nielsen popped out and MSU had to settle for a single run.
Iowa tied the game in the bottom of the first on an RBI single by Hoffman, scoring Brianna Luna, who led off the game by reaching on an error. In the third, Iowa padded its lead to 3-1. By the time the Hawkeyes had come to bat, the Spartans had stranded seven runners - two in the first, three more in the second, and two in the third. Kaitlyn Mullarkey led off with a double to left, and scored two batters later when Fritsch tripled to left center to make it 2-1. Megan Blank `s single plated Fritsch, and Hoffman reached base with a single to center. Repole popped up to Kaff, and she doubled off Hoffman at first to get out of the inning - but the Hawkeyes still came away with a 3-1 lead after the third.
The home team pushed their lead to 5-1 after the fourth. Erin Erickson led off the inning with a single up the middle, and was sacrificed Navarro over to second. Michelle Zoeller delivered a single to right to get Erickson over to third, then stole second to put a pair of runners in scoring position with just one out. Luna reached on an error in the field, bringing home both Erickson and Zoeller for a pair of insurance runs.
MSU stranded two runners in both the sixth and seventh innings for their final total of 13 on the day.
The teams will play the rubber game of the three-game series on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET in Iowa City.
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