On Tuesday afternoon, the Spartans welcomed in the Fighting Irish from Notre Dame for a midweek matchup. MSU, now 25-8 overall, dropped their second straight game, this time to Notre Dame in a pitching duel, by a final score of 1-0.
The loss on Tuesday was MSU's first against Notre Dame in East Lansing since 1986, and it was the Spartans' first shutout loss of the season.
Both starters retired the first seven batters in a row, but in the bottom half of the third inning, the Spartans earned their first baserunner of the game after junior catcher Matt Byars hit a ball up the middle for a base hit. Two batters later, freshman left fielder Marty Bechina ripped a line drive single to center advancing Byars to third, but Bechina was thrown out at second, which ended MSU’s threat.
Sophomore starting pitcher Keegan Baar was cruising through Notre Dame’s lineup until the top half of the fifth when he hit freshman first baseman Nick Podkul and walked junior Kyle Fiala to allow back to back baserunners. Prior to that point, Baar had retired the first 14 batters, but he ended the Notre Dame threat by striking out senior shortstop Lane Richards.
The next inning, however, the Irish would break up Baar’s no-hit bid with a leadoff home run by Ryan Lidge to take a 1-0 lead over the Spartans. The next batter, junior second baseman Cavan Biggio singled, but would not score.
MSU would cause another jam for Notre Dame’s starting pitcher Michael Hearne in the bottom of the eighth, but MSU would fail to score. Junior second baseman Dan Durkin led the inning off with a single, and advanced to second off a sacrifice bunt from Hughes. Durkin made it to third after sophomore DH Chad Roskelly flew out to right field after a seven pitch at bat. Notre Dame would get out of the jam and preserve their lead, after Simonton struck out after another seven pitch at bat.
MSU would threaten again in the bottom of the ninth, but after getting the first two batters on, Zimmerman was called out at the plate on a throw from center field and Chad Roskelly bounced out to short to end the game
Despite losing the game, Baar pitched the best game of his collegiate career to date. The sophomore left hander went a career-high 7.1 innings, while giving up only three hits and struck out four and walked one. The home run Baar gave up to Lidge in the top of the sixth was the only run that either team scored and would be Baar’s only blemish of the afternoon.
Hearne also pitched a gem, and he would emerge as the game’s winning pitcher. The Senior southpaw went the duration of the game and pitched a complete game shutout to improve to 5-0 on the season. Hearne finished the contest with only 91 pitches, for his second-straight complete game.
The Spartans would enjoy the company of Roskelly in the contest. Roskelly, last year’s starting catcher for MSU, has been sidelined for much of the season with a knee injury and picked up his first start since March 20 when the Spartans took on the University of South Florida. Roskelly finished the game 0-for-4.
MSU will get back into action on Wednesday, when the Western University Broncos come to McLane for another midweek matchup. First pitch for Wednesday’s game against WMU is set for 3:05 p.m.
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