It had been 678 long days since the Michigan State Spartan baseball team had hosted a game at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field. On the afternoon of Friday, March 26, the wait was finally over. The task was a tall one, however, as the Spartans welcomed the first place Indiana Hoosiers. Unfortunately, the Spartans dropped the home opener by a score of 8-2.
The Spartans got onto the scoreboard first, thanks to an RBI-single in the bottom of the fourth inning by freshman infielder Mitch Jebb. The lead was short-lived, however, as the Hoosiers answered with a five-hit, four-run effort in the top of the fifth inning to take a 4-1 lead that they would not relinquish.
MSU was able to get a bit closer in the bottom of the fifth inning with a solo home run from senior outfielder Joe Stewart to bring the score to 4-2. Stewart led all Spartans on the day with three hits in four at-bats. In total, however, the Spartans managed only six hits on the day against Indiana’s pitchers.
In the top of the sixth inning, the Hoosier bats were hot again, as the Crimson and Cream added four more runs, three of which due to a base clearing double off junior relief pitcher Jordan Beatson. Beatson had just been inserted into the game for junior starter Mason Erla, who was credited with the loss.
Final Score of Spartans' 2021 Home Opener:— Michigan State Baseball (@statebaseball) March 26, 2021
Indiana 8, Michigan State 2... despite Joe Stewart's 2nd HR of the season on deeeeeep shot to center field, finishing 3-for-4.
Spartans & Hoosiers back at it Saturday at 1:05 pm for Gm 2 of 3-game weekend series.
⚾️#GoGreen | @joestew5 pic.twitter.com/oBDtVd90wX
On Saturday, the Spartans and Hoosiers squared off again, and once again, Indiana came away with the victory, 10-4.
The Hoosier drew first blood on Saturday afternoon, scoring a single run in the top of the first inning. The Spartans then knotted the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the first off from a throwing error as a result of a bunt from senior outfield Bryce Kelley, who led the Spartans with two hits on the afternoon.
The Hoosier bats then got hot again in a four-run third inning rally that included a pair of home runs to bring the score to 5-1. Indiana would then add three runs off of four hits and a Spartan error in the top of sixth, and two more runs off an RBI-double in the top of the eighth to bring the score to 10-1.
The Spartans attempted a rally in the final two innings. Michigan State put a run on the board in the bottom of the eighth inning and added two more runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, in part due to a parade of four consecutive pinch hitters off of the Spartan bench. But, the rally was quenched with two-straight strikeouts to end the game with two Spartans left on-base.
On the mound for the Spartans, freshman starter Adam Berghorst gave up four hits and five runs through 3.2 innings and was credited with the loss. Senior reliever Sam Benschoter gave up seven hits and five runs over the next 4.1 innings. Despite the scoring output by the Hoosiers, Berghorst and Benschoter combined for 15 total strikeouts, which was a season-high for the Green and White.
The three-game series wrapped up on Sunday afternoon and fortunately for the Spartans, the weekend ended on a positive note. Michigan State beat Indiana by a score of 5-1.
MSU opened scoring with a two-run effort in the bottom of the second inning, thanks to a pair of doubles from freshman designated hitter Jack Frank and sophomore infielder Reese Trahey. The Spartans would then add a third run in the bottom of the third inning off of a sacrifice fly from junior infielder Zach Iverson, which scored senior outfielder Bryce Kelley. Kelley had reached third base off of a combination of a walk, a stolen base, and a wild pitch.
The score remained 3-0 until the bottom of the sixth inning, when the Spartans added two more runs from a pair of hits and a Hoosier throwing error to bring the score to 5-0.
The Hoosier would eventually score a single run in the top of the seventh inning to complete the scoring for the day. But, Indiana’s batters were stymied all afternoon by freshman Spartan pitcher Nick Powers, who went 6.2 innings with three strikeouts and only four hits. No Indiana runner advanced past second base until the seventh inning.
With the 1-2 record for the weekend, the Spartans are now 7-8 for the season, with all 15 games having been played against Big Ten opponents. That record is good enough for a three-way tie for seventh place with Illinois and Iowa.
The Spartans return to action on Friday, April 2 with a three-game weekend series in Minneapolis against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The Gophers are off to a tough 3-12 start so far in conference play, so this may be a chance for the Spartans to move up in the standings.
The action can be followed with live stats, live audio from TCF Bank Spartan Media Network, and live streaming from Big Ten Network+ with links available at MSUSpartans.com.