Chris Roberts homers in loss.  Photo courtesy of Rey Del Rio / MSU Athletic Communications.

Chris Roberts homers in loss. Photo courtesy of Rey Del Rio / MSU Athletic Communications.

EVANSTON, Ill. – The Michigan State baseball team fell, 2-1, to Northwestern on Thursday in game one of the crucial, final-regular season series. MSU, now 33-18 and 10-12 in the league, and Northwestern at 23-29 and 12-10 in the conference, are both fighting for spots in next week’s Big Ten Tournament.

 

MSU starting pitcher A.J. Achter, now 4-4, limited the Wildcats to seven hits and the two runs he allowed were the fewest he’s given up since March 26 against Oakland. Achter walked just two batters, and for the first time all year, did not record a strikeout.

 

Northwestern starting pitcher Eric Jokisch nearly went the distance in improving to 5-6 as he threw 8.2 innings and held MSU to eight hits, while striking out three and walking three.

 

Three consecutive singles gave Northwestern a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third and after MSU left a total of three runners on base through the first three innings, Chris Roberts took matters into his own hands when he tied the game with a solo homer in the top of the fourth. The home run was Roberts’ third in the last five games and eighth of the season.

 

The first two Northwestern hitters reached to start the bottom of the fourth and after a sacrifice bunt by Trevor Stevens moved both into scoring position, Colby Everett drove in what proved to be the deciding run with a sacrifice fly to left field.

 

Jokisch got inning-ending double plays in the third and fourth innings and went on to retire the Spartans in order in the fifth, sixth and seventh.

 

MSU’s best chance to tie the game came in the ninth inning when with two outs and Roberts on third and Eli Boike was first, NU closer Paul Snieder got Brandon Eckerle to fly out and end the game.

 

The two teams will meet again on Friday at 4 p.m. ET.

 

Notes: With two hits in Thursday’s game, Torsten Boss extended hits team-high hitting streak to 12 games … Roberts’ home run gave him 136 RBI for his career moved him into a tie with Rich Juday (1988-91) for eighth place on the MSU all-time RBI list.