MSU Defeated By UM Wednesday In Non-Conference Contest
Salter and Bechina both go 2-for-4
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State baseball was defeated by Michigan on Wednesday afternoon in a non-conference contest at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field by a final score of 10-2.
While the first three meetings of the season between the Spartans and Wolverines were Big Ten Conference games, Wednesday’s match-up does not count toward the B1G standings. MSU is now 17-26 on the season, while UM moves to 31-14. The Spartans were opening a week of action in which they’ll tangle with both teams atop the Big Ten Conference standings, as Michigan and Minnesota are tied with 14-3 B1G marks. After Wednesday’s midweek game, MSU plays a three-game series against Minnesota this weekend in Minneapolis opening Friday.
“Tough day for us today, but we need to put it behind us and get ready for Friday,” MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. said. “We missed some opportunities offensively early, and missed some defensively late.
Senior catcher Will Salter played in his final regular-season match-up against his brother, Harrison, who is a sophomore catcher for the Wolverines. The Spartan Salter was 2-for-4.
“Well I’m happy for Will for sure,” Boss said. “He’s a guy that is one of the best kids that I’ve had the pleasure of coaching here and he works hard. He hasn’t gotten a whole lot of playing time recently especially and I know that’s frustrating for him, but I give him a lot of credit that he was ready to go today. He was excited about getting the start. We told him yesterday that that was going to happen, and he responded with two hits and I thought caught a nice game back there behind the plate. They’ve got a lot of ties going back to their grandfather, Bill Freehan, with family with both schools. I’m sure it was an emotional day for Will, but he carried himself like he does and like I said, an unbelievable kid and I’m happy that he played well today.”
Will and Harrison are two of three Salter brothers, as the older brother, Blaise, is a Spartan alum (2012-15) and currently playing in the Detroit Tigers system with the Single-A Lakeland Flying Tigers. Their grandfather is Bill Freehan, who played at Michigan, where he was an All-American in 1961 and played for the Detroit Tigers from 1961-76, where he was an 11-time All-Star and was also head coach for the Wolverines from 1989-95.
“It’s something special,” Salter said about his family ties and having his parents in the stands. “It’s definitely easier for them with two kids playing the same game so it’s a one-stop shop, but yeah, it’s something with grandpa playing at Michigan and my other brother playing here. Baseball is something that’s really important to our family and it’s really something that brings us all together. When we have the opportunity to play each other and both start in this kind of situation it’s special and it’s something we all cherish.”
With the Salter brothers both catching, they had the rare opportunity that most college baseball players don’t get, the chance to talk to their brother when the other was at bat.
“We were just kind of keeping it light. You still got to remember that you’re in the middle of a game, but it’s cool. It’s just something that you dream of in the backyard when we’re playing Wiffle ball when we were younger and it’s something that’s cool. Just a little bit of talk here and there, just giving him a hard time, he’s giving me a hard time so it’s fun,” the Spartan Salter said with a laugh.
Along with Salter going 2-for-4, junior right fielder Marty Bechina matched Salter and also had two RBI. Sophomore left fielder Bryce Kelley was 2-for-3 and swiped his B1G leading 26th stolen base of the season. Senior designated hitter Chad Roskelly and sophomore second baseman Justin Antoncic were both 1-for-4 and scored a run apiece. Junior Dan Chmielewski was 1-for-1 with a pinch hit single in the ninth.
The Spartan defense turned two double plays on the afternoon, the first one in the top of the first that was a routine 6-4-3 double play. The second one came in the third inning and had much more flare, as senior shortstop Kory Young made a diving stop on a ball hit up the middle and flipped it to Antoncic, who bare-handed the toss as he stepped on second, then spun and threw to senior first baseman Zack McGuire for the scoop to complete the twin-killing.
The double play in the third came after Michigan had taken a 1-0 lead, but the two outs prevented any more damage off the Spartans’ sophomore starting pitcher, Sam Benschoter, who was making the first start of his MSU career.
Michigan State took a 2-1 lead in the third inning, as Antoncic sparked the rally with a one-out single to left. Roskelly followed with a single of his own, which was later followed with a walk to freshman third baseman Zach Iverson to load the bases. Next up was Bechina and he laced a single to left to plate Antoncic and Roskelly for the 2-1 Spartan advantage.
UM countered with two runs of its own in the fourth, adding a run in the fifth, two in the sixth, three in the seventh and another in the eighth for the final 10-2 scoring.
The Spartans tried to rally in the ninth behind Chmielewski and redshirt-freshman Joe Stewart, but the rally fizzled to end the game.
Benschoter pitched 4.0 innings, scattering six hits while ringing up one strikeout.
“You know for Sam’s (Benschoter) first start I thought he did a nice job. I thought Keegan Baar came in and just made one bad pitch, but threw well,” Boss said. “I give a lot of credit to Joe Stewart. He’s been sitting around for two years, watching and waiting and came in with a better approach than most. He took a big swing on the first pitch and wasn’t going to get cheated, hit a ball hard and they made a nice play.”
Wednesday’s game was the first of four this weekend against the top two teams in the B1G standings, as Michigan and Minnesota are currently tied atop the league standings.
The Spartans return to Big Ten action this weekend, heading to Minneapolis for a three-game conference series at Minnesota, Friday-Sunday, May 11-13. Friday’s opener is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET, followed by Saturday’s 3 p.m. ET start time The series finale on Sunday is slated for a 2 p.m. ET first pitch.
“We’ve got a lot to play for still and so do they,” Boss said. “We’ve got to clean some stuff up, but our guys have done a nice job being ready to play every day. I was a little disappointed in that today, unfortunately. I don’t know how we don’t bring our best when your rival comes to town, that’s a little disappointing when it got away from us there, but guys that got opportunities today that haven’t had many needed to take advantage of them and it didn’t happen, but we’ll be ready to go on Friday.”
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