Spartans Edged By No. 12 Gophers, 3-2, In B1G Tournament First Round
McGuire goes 2-for-4 with two-run double as MSU falls to top-seeded Minnesota
OMAHA, Neb. — Eighth-seeded Michigan State gave top-seeded and regular-season champion Minnesota all it could handle and more, but the Spartans came up short in a 3-2 loss Wednesday in the first round of the Big Ten Baseball Tournament at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska.
The Spartans, now 20-31 on the season, will take on the loser of fourth-seeded Illinois and fifth-seeded Indiana on Thursday at 2 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. CT in an elimination game. The Illini and Hoosiers were the final game Wednesday, starting at 10:30 p.m. ET.
Senior first baseman Zack McGuire was 2-for-4 with a two-run double in the fourth for MSU’s runs. Junior second baseman Justin Antoncic was 1-for-3, while freshman catcher Adam Proctor and sophomore center fielder Danny Gleaves were both 1-for-4, with Proctor scoring a run. Gleaves and fellow sophomore, left fielder Bryce Kelley both had a stolen base in the game. Kelley padded his B1G leading total and MSU single-season stolen base record with his 33rd of the season. Gleaves swiped his 25th of the season, maintaining his No. 2 ranking in the B1G and closing in on the top four on MSU’s single-season stolen base list.
Kelley and Gleaves’ stolen bases gives Michigan State an even 100 on the season, and breaking a tie for the team stolen base school record with the 2005 squad with 98 base swipes.
Senior starting pitcher Ethan Landon went 3.0 IP, scattering five hits while yielding two runs, one earned, and striking out two. Sophomore reliever Mitchell Tyranski went 3.2 IP, also spraying five hits and allowing an earned run, and was dealt the loss. Tyranski also had an outstanding diving catch to start a double play in the seventh inning. Senior Jake Lowery pitching the final 1.1 IP, not allowing a hit.
Minnesota got on the board first, plating a run in the home half of the first, taking advantage of an MSU error, before the Spartans got out of the jam with a routine 6-4-3 double play from senior shortstop Kory Young to Antoncic at second and on to McGuire at first.
Michigan State got on the board in the top of the fourth, when Antoncic led off with a walk, and Proctor later reached on a fielder’s choice, putting two Spartans on the bases. McGuire followed with a two-run double off the base of the wall in left, a shot that likely would have left the ballpark on a calm day, but the wind limited it to a two-RBI double nonetheless to give MSU a 2-1 lead.
The Spartan lead was short-lived, as the Gophers leveled the score in the home half of the fourth, with a leadoff double by Alex Boxwell then an RBI single from Jordan Kozicky, to even the score at 2-all.
Minnesota tacked on another run in the bottom of the fifth, after a leadoff double by Ben Mezzenga and a one-out RBI single by Eli Wilson. The Spartan defense prevented any more damage as Young made a nice snag on a grounder up the middle and made the glove flip to Antoncic at second for one out and turned to McGuire at first to complete the leather-flashing nifty double play.
The Michigan State defense again shone in the seventh inning, as Tyranski made a diving catch on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Mezzenga, then jumping to his feet and firing to McGuire at first to double up the runner. It was MSU’s fourth double play of the game, tying a TD Ameritrade Park record.
MSU got a runner on in both the eighth and the ninth inning, but were unable to get the runner past second, ending the game.
MSU is making its fourth B1G Tournament appearance in the last five seasons, missing last year, and it is the Spartans’ 14th overall appearance in the Big Ten Tournament.
Fans can follow Thursday’s B1G Tournament match-up with either Illinois or Indiana through “Live Stats,” “Listen Live” and “Watch Live” links found at MSUSpartans.com. The Big Ten Network is televising all games of the B1G Baseball Tournament live, with each game also available on the BTN2Go platform, either online at btn2go.com or through the BTN2Go app. All of the MSU action will also be carried on the Spartan Sports Network live audio stream. The broadcast will be available exclusively at SpartanSportsNetwork.com and on the network’s 24/7 app for mobile devices (available on iTunes and Google Play). Broadcast veteran Scott Moore calls the action alongside Jake Boss Sr. providing analysis.
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