MSU’s B1G Tournament Comes To Close With Heart-Breaking Loss To Indiana

Spartans end season with 6-5 10-inning defeat.

OMAHA, Neb. — Eighth-seeded Michigan State fell to fifth-seeded Indiana, in a heart-breaking 6-5 loss in 10 innings, Thursday afternoon in an elimination game of the Big Ten Baseball Tournament at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska.

“That was a tough one today for us,” MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. said. “We take a 5-0 lead and end up losing. From a baseball side of it, they made plays when they had to, just a difficult loss to swallow. We had some opportunities, but we didn’t take advantage of them. It’s a group of kids I’d go compete with any day. I’m proud of them.”

Indiana tied it at 5-5 in the bottom of the ninth and won it in the bottom of the 10th.

The Spartans end the 2018 season with a 20-32 record. MSU clinched its berth in the B1G Tournament with a win in the season-finale, moving up to the eighth and final spot in the postseason tourney.

“Two weeks ago nobody really gave us a chance to be here, I thought we played our best baseball of the year the last two weekends against Minnesota and Ohio State, arguably two of the best teams in our conference. I thought we played well and had our chances against Indiana, and I think that all three of those teams will be playing next weekend at the NCAA Regionals, along with several other teams from our league,” Boss said.

Michigan State loses eight seniors from its 2018 roster: No. 7, pitcher Keegan Baar; No. 34, pitcher Andrew Gonzalez; No. 7, pitcher Ethan Landon; No. 12, pitcher Jake Lowery; No. 55, first baseman Zack McGuire; No. 24, designated hitter Chad Roskelly; No. 11, catcher Will Salter, and No. 19, infielder Kory Young.

“This is a great group of kids, it’s tough to say goodbye to our group of eight seniors, because they’ve meant an awful lot to our program. I told them that when you look back in 5-10 years from now, that when you see 20-32, that’s not the story of the year for us, those seniors are just a special, special group of kids,” Boss said.

While getting key contributions from veteran players at the plate and in the field, it was redshirt-freshman Mason Erla who shone on the mound for the Spartans on Thursday, with a no-hitter going for five-and-a-third innings. He gave up a hit in the sixth that drove in Indiana’s first run of the game. Erla went 6.0 IP with one hit, one run and four strikeouts. MSU’s staff ended the day with nine strikeouts, giving them 407 for the season, marking the fourth-straight season that the Spartans have topped the 400 K plateau.

“Mason has a chance to be very good,” Boss said about his young hurler. “He’s had a tough road the past couple years with some injuries, but he’s just kept getting better and better as the year went on and I think he was really, really good today.”

Senior first baseman Zack McGuire was 2-for-3 with a run scored and a run driven in, while fellow senior, designated hitter Chad Roskelly was 2-for-5 with a run score and an RBI. Sophomore left fielder Bryce Kelley was 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI. Junior right fielder Marty Bechina was 1-for-3, while sophomore second baseman Justin Antoncic, sophomore center fielder Danny Gleaves and freshman third baseman Zach Iverson were all 1-for-5. Antoncic added a run and an RBI, and Iverson also posted an RBI.

After a scoreless first three frames of the ballgame, the Spartans broke through with a three-run fourth inning, batting around with four hits. Kelley led off with an infield single, then Roskelly hit a ground-rule double to left center that bounced over the wall. Antoncic followed with an RBI single to left, driving in Kelley and getting the Spartans on the board. Iverson rapped MSU’s fourth-straight hit with a single to right and not only plating Roskelly, but chasing Indiana starter Pauly Milto. Bechina drew a walk off reliever Cam Beauchamp to load the bases, and two batters later, McGuire drew an RBI walk to bring Antoncic in and put MSU ahead 3-0, but left the bases loaded.

The Spartans added to their lead in the fourth, as again Kelley led off with a hit, this time a double down the left field line. Roskelly was the next batter and laced an RBI single to right to plate Kelley.

Michigan State added another run in the top of the sixth, with McGuire sparking the rally with a single, moving to second on a sac bunt by classmate, shortstop Kory Young, and later scoring on a single by Kelley.

Indiana got on the board with its first hit off Erla, an RBI single by Matt Lloyd, driving in Jeremy Houston who reached on a walk. The Hoosiers added a run in the eighth, then tied it in the ninth on a three-run home run by Matt Gorski. IU won it in the 10th on an RBI single to left.

MSU made its fourth B1G Tournament appearance in the last five seasons, missing last year, and it was the Spartans’ 14th overall appearance in the Big Ten Tournament.

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