The Michigan State Baseball team (15-9, 3-3) was unable to squeeze out a victory in Sunday afternoon’s matinée game of a weekend series against the Minnesota Gophers (18-8, 6-0) losing 9-4 and losing all three games in the three-game set.
The Gophers bats struck early and often by scoring in five different innings, beginning in the top of the second.
The Golden Gophers broke the scoreless tie in the top of the second inning when Eduardo Estrada hit a sharp single with two men on to score Jordan Smith from second base and give Minnesota a 1-0 lead.
Michigan State had a great opportunity to counter in the bottom half of the inning with a runner, Zach McGuire, on third base with one out. MSU’s catcher Will Salter hit a hard ground ball to third base and McGuire charged for home. The Gophers caught him in a pickle as Toby Anderson, Minnesota’s starting pitcher tagged him out at home and Salter advance to second base. Bryce Kelley would fix Michigan State’s mistake on the next play by hitting a hard ground ball up the middle for a single to score Salter from second and tie the game at 1-1.
Michigan State took their first lead of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning. With runners on second and third, Dan Chmielewski hit a hard single into left field to score both of the runners on base and collect his 10th and 11th RBI on the season as well as giving MSU a 3-1 lead. Chmielewski also gave the Spartans their first lead of the series. That lead did not last long.
Minnesota took no time to start cutting into MSU’s lead in the top of the fifth inning. After Eduardo Estrada led the inning off with a triple, Cole McDevitt singled him in to cut the score to a 3-2 lead for the Spartans and in sequence ending MSU’s starting pitcher, Andrew Gonzalez’s afternoon after just four innings.
Gonzalez lasted the four innings giving up 5 hits, 3 runs with all of them earned, 1 walk, and 1 strike out on 51 pitches.
Minnesota tied the game just a couple batters later. With runners on second and third base, the designated hitter Micha Coffey hit a sacrifice fly ball to left field to bring in the runner from third to tie the game at 3-3. The next batter, Toby Hanson sent the very next pitch into deep left field for a double and brought in the runner from second base giving Minnesota the lead at 4-3 and chasing MSU’s relief pitcher Joe Mockbee, who ended up being the losing pitcher.
Minnesota extended their lead in the top of the sixth inning with McDevitt doing more damage. With runners on second and third base, McDevitt hit a single into centerfield to score both of the runners and notch his 9th and 10th RBI of the season and third of the game to give the Gophers a 6-3 commanding lead.
MSU began to inch closer in the bottom of the sixth inning by getting one of those runs back. With runners on the corners and one out Chmielewski brought in another run on a fielder’s choice to shortstop. MSU was only down two at 6-4 with three innings to play. That would be the last run Michigan State would score as Anderson and the Minnesota bullpen shut them down the rest of the game.
Toby Anderson was stellar on the bump for Minnesota finishing after seven strong innings allowing 4 runs, all earned, on eight hits, with two strikeouts, zero walks, and a win next to his name in the final box score.
Minnesota got that run back in the top of the 8th inning. With a runner on first base, Jordan Smith hit a double to the deepest part of McLane Baseball Stadium in centerfield off MSU reliever Jake Lowery to score the runner and give the Gophers another three run lead at 7-4. Smith would score himself on a wild pitch after moving over to third base on a sacrifice fly to centerfield.
Minnesota added an insurance run in the ninth from a Toby Hanson RPI single to make the score 9-4.
In the bottom of the ninth the Spartans went down in order to seal the 9-4 victory for the visiting Golden Gophers.
With the loss MSU’s season high four game losing streak continues to grow.
Up next for Michigan State is a mid-week showdown for the third time against an in-state mid-major program, this time in Ypsilanti, MI against the Eagles of Eastern Michigan on April 4.