Jake Boss displeased with Spartan offensive effort against Oakland
The collegiate baseball season is a grind — it’s 57 games, and a perfect season is basically impossible. There are going to be some days when a team just can’t get anything going, and for the Spartans, Tuesday was one of those games.
The Spartans struggled offensively on Tuesday, when they hosted Oakland University in their only matchup of the season and fell to the Golden Grizzlies by a final score of 3-1. Oakland outhit the Spartans 8-7, and the Spartans were unable to to establish any sort of rhythm on the basepaths.
MSU’s misfortunes on the bases started in the first inning after the Spartans threatened, but then failed to score. Freshman outfielder Marty Bechina led off the bottom half of the first with a single through the left side of the infield. Bechina stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch, giving MSU a runner on thirdwith only one out. Bechina was thrown out at home after outfielder Taylor Grace hit a swinging bunt to the first baseman. After that, Taylor was thrown out trying to steal, ending the inning.
MSU threatened again in the third, when senior third baseman Justin Hovis led the inning off with a single to right. One batter later with junior catcher Matt Byars at the plate, Hovis tried to steal second on a hit-and-run attempt but Byars lined out to right field and Hovis was doubled up trying to make it back to first.
In the bottom half of the sixth inning the Spartans had another offensive threat brewing, but it was cut short because of heads-up defense by the Golden Grizzlies. Bechina started the treat when he singled to left field. The next batter, junior second baseman Dan Durkin, got hit by a pitch and the Spartans had two runners on with only one out. Head coach Jake Boss Jr. called for a double-steal and Bechina was called out trying to steal third. Grace reached on a single, but MSU failed to score in their best offensive opportunity of the afternoon when first baseman Jordan Zimmerman grounded out to end the Spartans’ threat.
Following the game, Boss vented his frustrations about his team’s offensive effort.
“I thought our effort at the plate today was not good at all,” Boss said. “And that’s on me. I need to do a better job at getting these guys ready to play. ... The message before the game was we needed to play harder than Oakland. We knew that they were going to come in playing very well. They were going to play highly motivated and we needed to play harder than them and we didn’t.”
Albeit the Spartans’ bats were slow, there is a silver lining coming out of Tuesday’s matchup. MSU’s starting pitcher, sophomore Andrew Gonzalez, struck out a career-high six batters in his outing, during which he gave up five hits in 5.1 innings of work. On the offensive side of things, Zimmerman extended his hitting streak to a season-high 15 games.
“I felt like I hit my spots,” Gonzalez said. “They made pretty good swings when they needed to. ... (Oakland) really swung the bat well today.”
MSU should view the loss as a learning experience. Although they are playing white-hot baseball, the Golden Grizzlies brought them back to Earth just in time for the upcoming weekend series against Oregon.