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U-M's weekend sweep of baseball gives concerns of lack of confidence

March 26, 2018
Redshirt senior pitcher Ethan Landon (7) underhand tosses the ball to first base during the game against the University of Michigan on March 24, 2018 at McLane Baseball Stadium. The Spartans fell to the Wolverines, 3-1. (C.J. Weiss | The State News)
Redshirt senior pitcher Ethan Landon (7) underhand tosses the ball to first base during the game against the University of Michigan on March 24, 2018 at McLane Baseball Stadium. The Spartans fell to the Wolverines, 3-1. (C.J. Weiss | The State News) —

ANN ARBOR — Nothing as of late has been going the baseball team’s way as it was crushed in its loss to rival University of Michigan, 11-0, and finished the weekend series 0-3. 

The Spartans now fall to 6-16 on the regular season and 0-3 in Big Ten play under head coach Jake Boss Jr., who said there is a lot of work to be done and is concerned with the team’s confidence level moving forward.

“We’ll, that’s the thing I’m concerned about,” Boss said. “It’s a great group of kids, and again I don’t think it’s for a lack of trying, you know, by any means. The attitude’s been great in the dugout. I do think it’s a confident group, but it’s something we do have to guard against.”

Four Spartan pitchers took the mound Sunday afternoon, including redshirt freshman Mason Erla, who came in with a three-game win streak. Erla took the start before exiting in the fifth, where he gave up 10 hits to go along with six runs.

Sophomore Mike Mokma pitched for less than an inning and gave up four runs and three hits on the day. The Spartans' bullpen finished with eight strikeouts opposed to the Wolverines’ seven.

The Spartans are now 4-11 in the month of March, and five of those games were lost by nine or more runs. There has been no consistent go-to pitcher besides Erla. Despite Sunday’s loss, he is the only pitcher on the team with a winning record. The team also sits at the bottom of the Big Ten standings and is the only team, next to Northwestern, with a record below .500.

“We’ve been struggling here for the past week, week and a half,” Boss said. “I think we just need something to, somebody to kind of take the reins and get us that big knock where everybody can kind of take a deep breath and then let it happen. But again I’ve said it every day, I’ll go compete with these guys anytime and anywhere. It’s a great group of kids, I feel for them because they’re frustrated, and understandably so, but we’ll get back to work on Tuesday.”

The Spartans have a combined batting percentage of .232 with only two players hitting above .290,  sophomore infielder Justin Antoncic and junior infielder Royce Ando. Opponents average approximately .250 when in batting average.

The Spartans sit at bottom two in every major statistical category in the Big Ten, including on base percentage, slugging percentage, runs scored, RBIs and home runs. However, MSU leads all teams in the Big Ten in stolen bases with 54.

“I think learning from some experiences probably last year,” Boss said. “I don’t think it’s one of those things where everybody’s nervous in the dugout. I think it’s a matter of getting it done and executing and guarding against the frustration. But I don’t really necessarily see that on the field. I think it’s just the matter of having a good approach ... and just kind of let it happen.”

The Spartans will return home to face the Broncos at 3:05 p.m. Wednesday.

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