The Michigan State Baseball team continued their struggles in conference play by losing two out of three games during a home weekend series against the Iowa Hawkeyes.
In the first game on Friday night, the Spartans fell to Iowa in a tightly contested matchup by the score of 3-2. The teams remained scoreless up until the fourth inning when the Hawkeyes scored a run to take a 1-0 lead. MSU was able to respond in the bottom half of the fourth when Zack McGuire doubled in a run to tie the game. The Hawkeyes re-took the lead in the top of the sixth by scoring another run and again Michigan State found an answer. In the bottom of the 8th inning Dan Durkin crossed the plate thanks to a wild pitch. Going into the ninth inning tied, Iowa pushed across the winning run off of relief pitcher Walter Borkovich, who picked up the loss for MSU, to secure their 3-2 win.
MSU’s starting pitcher Alex Troop had a strong outing in a no decision effort by going five innings allowing only two hits and two earned runs. Unfortunately for Troop he was out-dueled by the Hawkeyes starter Nick Gallagher who went seven strong innings giving up nine hits and only one earned run in his no-decision outing.
The Spartans were able to even up the weekend series after a win in Saturday’s game by outlasting the Hawkeyes in a pitchers duel and winning 2-1.
The Spartans struck first in the bottom of the second when Marty Bechina hit a sacrifice fly ball to right field to bring in Dan Durkin and put MSU up 1-0. Iowa answered in the top of the sixth inning with their own sacrifice fly ball to right field by Robert Neustrom. Michigan State scored in the bottom of the 8th inning with their second sacrifice fly ball, this time by Dan Durkin, and secure their 2-1 victory.
Both starting pitchers from Iowa and MSU were close to untouchable in the game. For MSU, starter Jake Lowery went 7 2/3 innings giving up five hits and one run while fanning nine batters. For Iowa, Ryan Erikson went seven innings while giving up five hits and one run and striking out three MSU batters. Riley McCauley shut the door in the ninth inning for MSU by striking out the side and picking up his 8th save of the season while Nathan Witt picked up the win.
The bats finally came alive in Sunday’s matinée series finale that Iowa won in a 9-4 victory.
The Hawkeyes came out with their bats swinging scoring three runs in the first inning and chasing MSU’s starter Andrew Gonzalez after just two innings after he gave up four runs, there of them being earned. Iowa scored another run in the top of the of the fourth inning to increase their lead to 4-0. The Spartans drew within one run going into the seventh inning by scoring one run in the fourth inning via a Marty Bechina double and two more runs in the sixth inning via a Dan Durkin double and an RBI from Royce Ando.
The Spartan’s bullpen broke down in the late innings giving up one run in the seventh and four runs in the ninth inning and blow the gates open as Iowa lead 9-4. Josh Martsching locked the ninth inning down for Iowa as they left East Lansing with two out of three wins in the weekend series. After picking up the victory in Saturday’s game, Nathan Witt struggled to get outs on Sunday by giving up four runs and three hits over just one-third of an inning.
Going into this week, MSU sits at 8th place out of 13 teams in the Big Ten standings.
After the series, the Spartans fell to 24-19 on the season and 7-9 on Big Ten conference play. NCAA tournament hopes seem very bleak unless MSU is able to win the conference tournament.
Up next for Michigan State are two games against in-state Mid-American Conference foes. On May 9th MSU will match up with Western Michigan, who they lost to at home earlier this season, at Comerica Park and on May 10th the Spartans will look to avenge their early season loss against Eastern Michigan when the teams square off at McLane Baseball Stadium.