Spartans Topped By 16th-Ranked Gophers Saturday
Roskelly hits solo HR as part of three RBI, Bechina belts second HR in as many days.
MINNEAPOLIS — Michigan State baseball was topped by No. 16 Minnesota Saturday afternoon at Minnesota’s Siebert Field, 10-5, leveling the three-game Big Ten Conference series at a game apiece.
MSU had a 4-0 lead in the fourth inning after a home run by junior right fielder Marty Bechina and a bases-loaded clearing hit by senior designated hitter Chad Roskelly. However, the Gophers rallied in the second half of the game and overtook the Spartans for the win.
“We played well enough for half of the game, but that wasn’t good enough. By making some errors against a very, very good ball club like Minnesota, it’s going to be tough to win,” MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. said. “We played pretty clean baseball early, but then we had some errors late. When we play well, we can beat anybody in the country and when we don’t, we can get beat by anybody. That’s just the way this game is and it got us today.”
The three-game B1G series is now level at a game each after MSU’s 6-5 win Friday night heading into Sunday’s series finale at 2 p.m. ET.
“These guys have done a nice job of putting stuff behind them all year long and getting ready for the next game, and we’ll do it again and get ready to play tomorrow, but our guys will be ready,” Boss said.
MSU is 9-10 in B1G play and 18-27 overall with the loss, while Minnesota improved to 33-13 overall and 15-4 in conference competition.
Roskelly added a solo home run in the eighth, finishing the day 3-for-4 with three RBI. Bechina belted his second round-tripper in as many days with a solo shot to left field in the fourth, nearly the same location as his Friday night home run in the sixth that proved to be the winning run.
Sophomore left fielder Bryce Kelley was 3-for-5 with a run scored and a stolen base, adding to his Big Ten-leading stolen base total with his 27th of the season. Kelley needs just three more to tie former teammate Brandon Hughes for the MSU single-season record of 30 base swipes that Hughes set last season.
Senior shortstop Kory Young was 2-for-3, while freshman catcher Adam Proctor was 1-for-3 with a run scored and freshman third baseman Zach Iverson was 1-for-4.
Redshirt-freshman pitcher Mason Erla was dominant in the early going and was in a pitchers’ duel with Minnesota’s Patrick Fredrickon in the first four innings of the game. Erla went 6.0 IP, scattering four hits, while yielding two runs, but struck out five. He retired the Gophers in order in three-straight frames from the third to the fifth innings. The five strikeouts Saturday marked Erla’s second-straight outing with five Ks and was his fifth game this season with five or more punchouts.
Fredrickson entered Saturday’s game with a 1.44 ERA and having allowed just one home run in his 14 appearances, but the Spartans touched him up with three earned runs and home run, as he ended the game with 5.0 IP, eight hits, four runs, three earned and just three Ks. Jackson Rose pitched the final 4.0 IP to get the win.
The early innings of the ballgame reflected all the makings of a pitchers’ duel, with sophomore center fielder Danny Gleaves giving Erla some great defensive support in the first inning. Gopher Luke Pettersen tried to score from second on a single by Eli Wilson, with Gleaves scooping the ball up and firing a laser to Proctor at home for the tag and ending the inning.
Minnesota threatened in the second frame, getting runners on second and third with one out, but Erla got out of the jam on his own, chalking up back-to-back strikeouts to end the frame.
The Spartans got on the board in the top of the fifth, as Bechina blasted a shot to left field, nearly mirroring his home run from Friday night to the same spot.
MSU continued its rally in the frame, as Proctor and Young had back-to-back singles to left, with Proctor getting erased on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Kelley, but Kelley later stole second. Gleaves followed by getting hit by a pitch to load the bases. Roskelly followed with a bloop single that had side-spin and spun away from the Gophers’ right fielder, clearing the bases and putting the Spartans ahead 4-0.
Minnesota got on the board with a run in the sixth, on a two-out triple and later scoring on an MSU error, before a groundout into the Spartans’ defensive shift ended the frame.
The Gophers erupted for eight runs in the bottom of the seventh, on eight hits and taking advantage of two MSU errors to open a 9-4 lead.
Michigan State got a run back in the top of eighth with a Roskelly solo home run to deep left field, pulling the Spartans within 9-5, but Minnesota added a run in the bottom half of the frame for the final score of 10-5.
The Spartans and Gophers wrap up the series finale on Sunday afternoon with a 2 p.m. ET first pitch.
Any schedule updates will be announced on www.MSUSpartans.com and on twitter @statebaseball.
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