Almost everything was going smoothly for MSU baseball, at least for the first 20 games of the season.
The Spartans came out of the gates 15-5 and were riding a high after sweeping Big Ten foe Illinois. There, the bats exploded to the tune of 41 runs during the three-game series.
All things considered, the Spartans’ 3-0 Big Ten record was a strong starting point for a team looking to win a Big Ten championship.
However, in the last five games, MSU has stumbled to a winless streak, doubling its losses on the season in the span of about a week.
Adding insult to injury, the Spartans have lost four of their last five games by a mere run. Three of the five losses were to Big Ten rival Minnesota, the regular season conference champion in 2016.
On April 4 against a hapless Eastern Michigan team who came in with a losing record, the Spartans continued their slide, falling 4-3.
After dropping the game to the Eagles, head coach Jake Boss Jr.‘s team fell to a 15-10 mark on the season. After the game, Boss said the performances from his team, especially from the bats, failed to make an impact.
“No progress is being made today,” Boss told Spartan Sports Network after the game. “We need somebody to lead the ball club, we’re not getting it. It’s very frustrating for everybody. We need to have big at bats in big situations when it counts, and we’re not doing it. We scored three runs tonight, it’s not good enough.”
Boss said given the expectations of a school like MSU, the recent play of the Spartans has been repugnant.
“Somebody’s got to take ownership of what’s going on right now ... because it’s not acceptable at Michigan State, it’s not the standard here at Michigan State,” Boss said.
Against the Eagles, the Spartans combined for just six hits for three runs. They attempted to mount a comeback in the ninth inning, but fell just short. After back-to-back walks to redshirt-sophomore outfielder Dan Chmielewski and senior catcher Matt Byars, MSU had momentum brewing.
Following a junior infielder Kory Young bunt, the duo moved into scoring position at second and third base. The comeback attempt was officially on. Trading an out for a run, freshman outfielder and left-handed pitcher Bryce Kelley grounded out to second base. It brought the score to a one-run affair in favor of Eastern Michigan, 4-3.
With Byars at third base for the potential tying run and with two outs in the final inning, all eyes were on junior outfielder Brandon Hughes. However, the Sterling Heights, Mich. native was unable to convert for the Spartans, as he struck out looking to preserve the Eagles’ win.
It was another one-run loss for the Spartans. Despite outhitting the Eagles, 6-4, the opposition walked away with the victory tucked under their belt.
One of MSU’s starters, freshman right-hander Mike Mokma, went four innings deep, allowing two runs on three hits. It was redshirt-junior righty Jake Lowery, though, who took the loss in the game as he allowed one run in his three innings of work.
The Spartans will look to rebound in a string of non-conference games, starting with Fresno State from April 7-9 in a three-game series.
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