On a beautiful Tuesday night, two in-state battle in Ann Arbor, Michigan played out as both the Michigan State Baseball and Softball team were bested by their conference rival. The MSU Softball team fell 3-1 to the #18 ranked Wolverines as star pitcher Megan Betsa dominated for Michigan. The MSU baseball team battled back and forth with the Wolverines, one of the top teams in the Big Ten in 2017, before unraveling in the final four innings.
The Spartan Baseball team kept pace with Michigan on Tuesday night before the Wolverines scored eight runs between the sixth in seventh inning to open the game and secure a 12-4 win.
The MSU offensive came out bats swinging breaking the scoring in the top of the first inning when Dan Chmielewski hit a RBI triple to centerfield. The Wolverines answered the early MSU attack by scoring two runs in the bottom of the first and one in the bottom of the third inning to take a 3-1 lead.
MSU re-took the lead in the fifth inning by scoring three runs; one coming from a Chmielewski fielder’s choice and a two-RBU double from Dan Durkin to take a 4-3 lead. However that lead did not last long yet again for MSU as any time the Spartans seem to have the Wolverines caught in a corner, Michigan would have a counter-punch. The Wolverines scored a run in the bottom half of the fifth inning to tie the game back up at five. Michigan State fought strong for five innings….and then the bullpen.
MSU’s starter Mike Mokma went three innings giving up only three runs on five hits before handing the baseball over to the shaky bullpen and from then on everything started to unravel for MSU. Pitchers Jake Lowery and Walter Borkovich each gave up two runs over an inning and a third. The Biggest gut punch was given up by Ethan Landon who gave up four earned runs in just two-thirds of an inning. Michigan held a 12-4 lead after seven and that would be enough to hold on to a landslide victory.
The Spartans were held scoreless the final four innings of the game but there were some positive performances at the plate. Offensively for MSU then two Dan’s (Chmielewski and Durkin) were the spark plugs. Both Chmielewski and Durkin went one for three with two RBIs each. The Spartans’s catcher Matt Byars went one for three as well. Mokma (0-1) was credited with his first loss of the season.
MSU’s season record dropped to 20-13 while their conference record dropped to .500 at 5-5.
Just a couple of yards away on the Softball diamond, Megan Betsa escaped out on numerous jams to push the Wolverines over Michigan State by the score of 3-1.
In the early goings the game between the Spartans and the Wolverines was a pitching battle with each team being held scoreless for the first three innings. Michigan broke the scoring in the bottom of the fourth inning by scoring two runs as they led 2-0.
In the top of the fifth, MSU was able to cut Michigan’s lead in half when Mackenzie Long singled to left to bring in what would be MSU’s lone run of the game. Michigan added one back in the bottom of the fifth to grow their lead back to two and a 3-1 lead was enough when the Wolverine’s had Megan Betsa on the mound.
Betsa was outstanding on the mound for the Wolverines pitching a complete game and allowing just five hits, one run, and striking out 14….yes 14 Spartan batters. Betsa improved her season record to (18-6).
Michigan State’s starter Kristina Zalewski went just three and one-third innings giving up two runs on five hits while striking out two.
Not many batters had success at the plate for MSU but Mackenzie Long had the best night going two for three with the lone RBI.
MSU Softball lost their fifth straight game and dropped their season record to 20-17.