In the second game of a three game series MSU baseball traveled to Ann Arbor to face in-state rival Michigan. MSU ultimately fell, 11-6, but not without a fight.
Entering the game the Wolverines (41-13, 15-8 Big Ten) were ranked No. 15 in the nation, eying a potential top seed in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament. The Spartans (29-22, 10-13 Big Ten), came in unranked fighting for their postseason lives.
The first inning began with little drama as U-M starter Oliver Jaskie retired the first three Spartan batters in order.
Michigan then struck, jumping out to an early lead in the bottom of the first inning. Redshirt-junior pitcher Jake Lowery took the mound on Friday looking to build off of Alex Troop’s successful game one of the series.
Lowery allowed three hits, two walks and four runs after facing just five batters until senior pitcher Joe Mockbee was chosen to come on in relief to retire the side. Lowery left the game without recording a single out.
Michigan kept up the pressure in the second inning adding three more runs off of two walks and three hits. Mockbee would go on to strike out the side, but the damage had been done.
The Spartans were able to put a run on the board in the third inning after an RBI double to left-center from junior first baseman Zack McGuire.
However, Michigan responded with two more runs of its own in the bottom of the fourth courtesy of U-M catcher Harrison Wenson’s homer to left-center.
MSU faced a 9-1 deficit entering the fourth inning. Despite a leadoff double from senior second baseman Dan Durkin, the Spartans were unable to secure a run in the fourth.
The fifth inning proved crucial in a comeback effort as the Spartans roared back into the game, scoring four runs. The inning was capitalized by Durkin's home run, making it a 9-5 U-M lead.
The Spartans were within striking distance, but the Wolverines finally answered the Spartan surge in the eighth inning, scoring a pair of insurance runs of their own.
With the scoreboard reading an 11-5 Spartan deficit, MSU looked for one final push. Sophomore shortstop Royce Ando singled up the middle to lead off the inning, eventually coming around to score, Durkin earning the RBI.
Ultimately, it was too little too late for the Spartans. U-M shut the door on the Spartans and ended any chance MSU had of qualifying for the Big Ten Tournament. The Spartans had to win all three games against U-M on the weekend, but will come up short.
The Spartans and Wolverines will battle on MSU's Senior Day back in East Lansing. First pitch was moved up to 12:02 p.m. Saturday due to inclement weather in the area.
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