Baseball shuts down Rutgers to end eight-game skid
It took a day longer than anybody expected, but baseball stopped its eight-game losing streak Sunday afternoon with a 6-0 victory over Rutgers. The game was postponed Saturday afternoon due to rain.
Redshirt freshman right-hander Mason Erla, who missed last season with a shoulder injury, fired seven shutout innings. Five different Spartans delivered RBIs, with the big blow an RBI triple in the fifth inning from redshirt senior designated hitter Chad Roskelly.
“I can’t remember the last time I hit a triple, it’s got to be little league,” Roskelly said postgame, laughing. “I haven’t been fast in a long time.”
The Spartans put together a complete game for the first time in weeks, committing only one error and leaving just four men on base, two problems which have plagued them during the losing streak.
“The bats were really working today, we’ve been struggling with that a little bit,” Erla said. “We played well on both sides of the ball, only one error, so that’s why it was the outcome that it was.”
Senior first baseman Zack McGuire got the ball rolling offensively in the fourth inning, delivering a long double to deep center field and plate the first Spartan run from first base.
“Early on in the count, I’m trying to get something up so I can beat an outfielder,” he said. “Luckily, I was able to get a good swing on it and beat their center fielder, who is a really fast player.”
McGuire noted the relief of a team that had been struggling offensively after his big hit.
“We’ve had some opportunities over the course of the last eight games with guys in scoring position, and we really haven’t capitalized," McGuire said. "It was an opportunity to break something open, and hitting is contagious, so it kind of started rolling after that. It was an exhale for us to get a run on the board early.”
Erla was in many ways the story. During the bottom of the sixth inning, he got into some trouble, with runners standing at second and third with only one out. He buckled down and got a pop-up followed by a ground ball to end the inning. Him and McGuire exchanged a big high-five after the final out of the inning.
“That’s a momentum shift towards our offense, getting out of a big jam like that, so you hope it carries over to our offense,” Erla said.
The Spartans played some small ball to get their runs, utilizing stolen bases, safety squeezes, and a two-out RBI push bunt by sophomore center fielder Danny Gleaves.
“We have some speed at the top and the bottom of the order, so we feel that if we can get the leadoff guy on, we can do different things,” head coach Jake Boss Jr. said. “We can play some short game, get some good at-bats with two strikes especially.”
Boss was careful to note that while he hopes the team can build momentum, baseball is a funny game.
“The way this game is, you separate one game from the next," Boss said. "Eastern Michigan is going to come in here Wednesday ready to play, and we’ve got to be ready for them.”
The win Sunday marked Boss’ 300th victory as the head coach of the Spartans and 325th overall, as he won 25 games while the head coach at Eastern Michigan in 2008.