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Three run sixth by Indiana pulls Spartans out of first in the Big Ten standings

April 23, 2016

Friday afternoon’s outing against Indiana was an uncharacteristic one for MSU starting left-hander Cam Vieaux.

It wasn’t a bad start by any stretch of the imagination — just bad. Prior to the sixth inning against IU, Vieaux had only allowed three hits and two walks through five innings of work while striking out seven Hoosiers.

The Spartan ace would get into a jam and seven batters later, Indiana would bust out the bats and tack Vieaux for three runs — which would end up being all the offense the Hoosiers would need to take game one of an important three game conference series over the weekend.

“It’s probably the worst I’ve thrown,” Vieaux said. “I don’t think that I should give up runs to teams like that. I was going around guys, I should have attacked more but I should get bettwe and be better next week.”

Following his Friday performance, Vieaux is now 6-2 on the season. By the time it was all said and done, the Spartan southpaw struck out eight batters through seven innings of work to bring his total strikeout total to a team-leading total of 63, which also ranks second in the conference. And although Vieaux gave up a season-high three earned runs, he still leads the league with a stellar 1.46 earned run average.

Head coach Jake Boss Jr. and his Spartans admit that it was an evenly hard-fought game by both teams all the way through, but it was Indiana who had the last laugh, and debunked MSU from the top of the Big Ten standings for the first time all season.

“It was a well played ballgame all the way around,” Boss said. “Both teams played well and both teams executed very well defensively. Unfortunately, we had the big inning and gave up a couple of runs that were freebees and they took advantage of it.

On the bright side of things, junior first baseman Jordan Zimmerman crushed his team-leading sixth home run of the season, And another silver lining of Friday’s game for the Spartans is the performance of the starter-turned-reliever Walter Borkovich.

“His stuff was really good out of the ‘pen last year and we decided to make that move on Wednesday,” Boss said. “It’s tough because everybody likes to start and he really enjoyed that role, but we’re a better ballclub with him coming out of the ‘pen and that’s not a knock on him.”

Borkovich, a junior, has struggled all season in the rotation as a weekend starter. He’s currently 4-2 on the season but ranks last on the team with a 4.40 ERA and a 1.213 WHIP. Friday though, the right hander tossed for two innings while striking out three and only allowing a pair of hits. And despite being moved into the bullpen, Borkovich will embrace his new role as long as it continues to help the Spartans moving forward.

“It’s something I did last year,” Borkovich said. “I had like 30 appearances or something and I got really comfortable with it. Once you get situated you just carry it year to year.”

The next two games for the Spartans will be big, as they look to reclaim their spot at the helm of the conference. Sophomore Ethan Landon (4-1, 2.35 ERA) will look to help MSU rebound on Saturday, he will face Indiana senior Caleb Baragar (3-1, 1.48 ERA) in game two on Saturday. Junior Joe Mockbee (0-0, 3.00 ERA) will start Sunday, his first start of the season; IU will counter with Evan Bell (0-3, 3.86 ERA).

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