MSU Comes Up Short In 10-8 Offensive Battle With Buckeyes

Spartans belt 16 hits in heart-breaking loss.

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State’s ninth-inning rally came up inches short Thursday afternoon in the opening game of a three-game series with Ohio State at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field in a dramatic, back-and-forth ballgame, 10-8.

The Spartans rallied from a 10-5 deficit entering the bottom of the ninth, closing to 10-8 with three runs and had two on with the winning run at the plate, but freshman catcher Adam Proctor’s fly ball to right field was caught at the wall at the top of the berm by OSU right fielder Dominic Canzone to end the game.

MSU rapped out a season-high 16 hits for a solid offensive outing, led by freshman third baseman Zach Iverson going 2-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored, one of six different Spartans with multi hits. Junior right fielder Marty Bechina was 3-for-5 with two runs score and freshman catcher Adam Proctor was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored. Senior designated hitter Chad Roskelly, senior first baseman Zack McGuire and sophomore left fielder Bryce Kelley were all 2-for-5 with Roskelly and Kelley tallying an RBI, while Roskelly and McGuire also added a run scored.

Kelley added one stolen base, good not only for his Big Ten leading 29th base swipe on the season, but also tying Anthony Cheky’s 29 swipes from 2014 for No. 2 on MSU’s single-season stolen base list and leaving him one shy of tying former teammate Brandon Hughes’ stolen base record of 30 set last season.

Gleaves added a stolen base for his 23rd of the season, ranking second in the B1G and moving up to tie for No. 5 on the single-season list. Kelley and Gleaves are two of just six sets of teammates in the country with 20 or more stolen bases.

Sophomore center fielder Danny Gleaves was 1-for-3 with a run scored, freshman shortstop Ryan King was 1-for-4 with an RBI and junior Bailey Peterson was 1-for-1 with a pinch-hit RBI in the ninth during the Spartan rally.

“I’m proud of the guys for continuing to fight, and scratch-and-claw; we had a chance to win in the ninth, but we just needed three more feet,” MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. said. “For a young kid to put the barrel on the ball in that situation and give us a chance, I think that is pretty impressive. He had a good day and he’s going to be a good player for us.”

Ohio State got on the board first in the top half of the first, on an RBI single by Conner Pohl, for an early 1-0 lead.

The Spartans tied it up in the bottom of the third, with Proctor sparking the rally with a leadoff walk. Gleaves beat out a bunt single, and Kelley reached on a throwing error by the shortstop on a fielder’s choice.

The level score was broken by the Buckeyes the next half inning, with two hits and a Spartan error, taking a 3-1 lead.

MSU countered with a run in the fifth, as again Proctor started the rally with a one-out single, but was eliminated from the basepaths on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Gleaves. After Gleaves stole second, Kelley followed with a double to left center, and Gleaves scampered around to score and pull Michigan State within, 3-2.

The Spartans plated a pair of runs in the sixth to take a 4-3 lead, as Bechina laced a one-out single up the middle, and McGuire followed with a single of his own up the middle. Iverson was next up and had a squeeze bunt to plate Bechina, sliding in just under the tag. King then laced a double down the left field line to drive in McGuire and put the home team ahead for the first time in the game.

Ohio State countered with a run in the seventh, but Michigan State got out of a jam, leaving two Buckeyes on base, with the game again level at 4-4 when it was time for the fans to stretch.

Senior relief pitcher Jake Lowery quieted the Ohio State bats in the top of the eighth, striking out the side. The Spartans took a 5-4 lead in the home half of the frame after Iverson sparked the rally with a single. Two batters later, Proctor belted a double to right center, driving in his fellow freshman and a one-run lead.

Ohio State plated six runs in the top of the ninth, taking advantage of an MSU error and stringing together four hits in the inning, before the Spartans got out of it with a double play.

OSU brought in its closer, reliever Seth Kinker, to open the ninth, who entered the weekend leading the Big Ten with a 1.15 ERA and sharing the league-lead with 13 saves, but the Spartans rallied. Sophomore second baseman Justin Antoncic started it with a one-out walk and advanced to second on a balk by Kinker. Roskelly followed with a double to left center to plate Antoncic, then Bechina singled to left. Two batters later, Iverson singled to center and drive in Roskelly. Peterson pinch hit and laced a single to right, which scored Bechina and pulled MSU with 10-8 and setting up Proctor’s dramatic almost-game-winning hit drama.

Lowery fired four strikeouts in 2.2 IP. Lowery relieved senior starter Ethan Landon, who went 5.1 IP, scattering five hits while yielding three runs, but chalking up four strikeouts, including one looking, giving him 17 this season, ranking tied for 15th in the B1G, as he along with sophomore Mitchell Tyranski and redshirt-freshman Mason Erla combined to make the Spartans the only team in the B1G with three pitchers in the top 15 for KLs.  Landon now has 72 total Ks this season, as he entered the weekend ranked seventh in the conference in strikeouts. MSU pitching staff’s eight Ks Thursday gives them 382 this season, moving up to No. 6 on the Spartans’ team single-season strikeout list.

Game two of the series is on Friday at 4:02 p.m. at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field, before the series and regular-season finale which is also Spartan Senior Day on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. MSU will honors its eight senior players and one senior student manager in a pre-game ceremony.

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