Thursday, February 29, 2024

Spartans lose 2 on the diamond in double-header action

April 13, 2002

The MSU baseball team dropped both ends of a home-field double-header to conference-leading Indiana on Saturday.

The Spartans (21-8 overall, 5-5 Big Ten) dropped their first game 1-0 at Kobs Field and the lost the second 8-4. After winning Friday’s contest 13-6, MSU heads into Sunday’s finale trailing two games to one. The fourth and final game of the series begins at 1 p.m. Sunday.

“I think we thought we could come out here and beat them by not playing well,” junior catcher Brady Burrill said. “You can’t beat a Big Ten team like that, especially because Indiana is a good team.”

Spartan right-hander Nick Bates entered the first game a perfect 6-0, but picked up the loss as his teammates failed to score a single run in support. Bates finished with a complete-game, nine strikeout performance. In seven innings, Bates scattered six hits and didn’t allow one walk.

“Nick pitched a tremendous game and I felt bad for him that we couldn’t get him any runs,” senior first baseman Chris McCuiston said. “It was a pitcher’s dual all day, and it’s just tough not getting him any runs.”

The Spartans managed only five hits against Hoosier southpaw Zach Otte (6-1). Otte also pitched a complete game in Saturday’s first contest.

Indiana (26-7, 8-3) helped Otte out of two dangerous situations, turning two double plays to keep MSU scoreless.

The first came in the bottom of the second inning, when junior second baseman Charlie Braun hit into a 4-6-3 double play. The defensive trick got the Hoosiers out of a bases-loaded situation.

In the top of the inning, Indiana scored the game’s only run. Three consecutive hits, capped by a blooper in left-center field by first baseman Gibran Hamdan, scored right fielder Joe Kemp.

After a short break between games, both teams’ hitters vented early frustrations as they combined to score the game’s 12 runs in the first three innings.

Spartan starting pitcher Tim Day (5-2) lasted just one inning in the second game of the double header. The freshman faced four Indiana batters in the second, but failed to record an out. Day gave up six earned runs on seven hits.

MSU scored three runs in the bottom of the first to take a 3-2 lead, but never led again after yielding four runs in the second.

“When you get down like that it’s hard to hit,” Spartan manager Ted Mahan said. “We’ve got to give ourselves a chance. They pitched better than us today.”

Right-hander Nick Vitirlliss (5-0) threw the Hoosiers second complete game of the day, scattering seven hits and striking out five.

No Spartan reached third base after the second inning.

MSU senior right-hander Jon Huizinga replaced Day in the second and pitched the final six innings of the game. He allowed two runs on four hits.

“We didn’t come out to play,” McCuiston said. “As the innings went on, it was there game. We weren’t prepared, we didn’t get the key hits, didn’t make plays in the field, just didn’t execute all day today.”

The Spartans need to win Sunday’s matchup to split the series and remain close to Indiana atop the Big Ten standings.

“Hopefully this can be a turning point for us,” Burrill said. “We’re gonna come back and hope for a split.

“We didn’t want to split, but that’s pretty much all we can do for right now.”


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