The Michigan State Spartans opened up conference play this weekend against the Michigan Wolverines. It was a three game home-away series and the Spartans didn’t stand a chance.
I really thought the Spartans would win at least one of these games against the Wolverines (most likely the home game) but I was completely wrong.
With the losses Michigan State slides to 6-16 on the season and 0-3 in conference play, while the Wolverines improve to 12-11 (3-0 B1G).
The Spartans started this series in the Wolverines backyard Friday afternoon for their first Big Ten contest of the season. Things had recently been going alright for Michigan State, so it was well within the realm of possibility that they pull off at least one upset over the weekend.
Unfortunately MSU didn’t get off to the greatest start in the world. The Wolverines were able to grab hold of an early 2-0 lead in the first inning due to a two run homer by Jonathan Engelmann. The Spartans tried to put together a few rallies during the early and mid-innings of the ball game but nothing came of it.
Pretty soon it was the sixth inning and Michigan had a 6-0 lead.
The Spartans did drive three runs home in the eighth inning due to three straight RBI singles by McGuire, Lacayo, and King. The rally was started by Bryce Kelley who got on base thanks to a lead-off walk. Any Michigan State celebrations were short-lived since the Wolverines went ahead and scored six more runs in that same inning increasing their lead and winning the game, 12-3.
As I said before, Michigan State’s best chance to steal a game in this series would be Saturday afternoon at home in front of their fans. The Spartans had a 1-0 lead heading into the ninth inning before ultimately losing.
In order for the Spartans to hang onto the lead for as long as they did, Ethan Landon needed to pitch his heart out and that’s exactly what he did. He tied career highs for strikeouts and innings pitched. Landon, (who is 0-4 on the season and has virtually had the worst luck during his starts) pitched 8.0 innings, gave up four hits, and struck out nine batters.
The Spartans skipper, Jake Boss, let Landon head out to the mound to start the ninth inning. But after letting two men on base it was time for the MSU starter to leave the game and for Mitchell Tyranski to come in for relief.
With a couple men already on base, the Wolverines ran a suicide squeeze that ended up scoring two runs which resulted in a 3-1 victory for Michigan.
The finale didn’t get any easier and neither did this entire weekend / series for Spartan baseball fans. It was difficult to watch these guys lose three straight, especially to Michigan. Which is why we are going to glaze over the finale.
Mason Erla took the mound for the Spartans and had his first bad outing. He pitched five innings, gave up 10 hits, and allowed six runs. All in all the Wolverines scored a run in just about every inning possible and had 15 hits on the day. Once again, nothing came of any of the Spartan rally attempts and Sunday ended in a rather embarrassing 11-0 loss.
Spartans Staying The Course
There wasn’t too much to be excited about this weekend as a Spartan fan. Offensively Michigan State scored a total of four runs and added 21 hits. That simply isn’t good enough. The Spartans need to figure out a way to drive runs home and put more runs on the board.
If they don’t figure out a way to be more productive offensively then this season is over (if it isn’t already).
That being said here are your top four Spartans this week:
- Justin Antoncic (CF): .297 (22-74), 4 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 8 RBI
- Royce Ando (2B): .293 (12-41), 1 2B, 5 RBI, 5 SB
- Zach Iverson (3B): .271 (13-48), 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 2 SB
- Ryan King (SS): .269 (21-78), 3 2B, 6 RBI
- Is this season officially over? Possibly? Yes? No? You tell me.
- Michigan State needs to score more runs and be better on offense.
- Once again, great pitching isn’t enough to win this team games nor is it enough to keep games close. The Spartans must be able to score more on a per game basis and if that doesn’t change we are going to see them getting swept regularly.
The Spartans are playing their next 12 games at home, in East Lansing and it all starts this Wednesday at 3:05 p.m. against Western Michigan.