Thursday, July 2, 2020

FINAL: Spartans walk off against Indiana State in first night game

April 5, 2019
<p>Notre Dame first baseman Daniel Jung (31) stretches for a throw to retire sophomore outfielder Bryce Kelley (17) during the game against Notre Dame on April 10, 2018 at McLane Baseball Stadium. The Spartans fell to the Fighting Irish, 8-7.</p>

Notre Dame first baseman Daniel Jung (31) stretches for a throw to retire sophomore outfielder Bryce Kelley (17) during the game against Notre Dame on April 10, 2018 at McLane Baseball Stadium. The Spartans fell to the Fighting Irish, 8-7.

Photo by Matt Schmucker | The State News

In the first game under the lights at McLane Stadium, the Spartans (6-21, 0-5 Big Ten) walked off against Indiana State (22-5, 1-2 Missouri Valley), 1-0 in 10 innings of baseball on Friday.

“We only have the opportunity to win the first night game one time,” coach Jake Boss said. “I'll give our guys a lot of credit. That's a really, really good ball club over there and they're going to be really good tomorrow and Sunday. But we got a couple of breaks tonight, made a play when we needed to and (I'm) just really proud of our guys for hanging in there."

In the bottom half of the 10th inning, senior second baseman Royce Ando singled to right field, representing the Spartans’ sixth hit and the potential winning run. 

Boss then called on freshman backup catcher Scott Combs to pinch hit. His bunt back to pitcher Tyler Ward resulted in an error by Jarrod Watkins at second and Ando advancing to third.

Then came up junior catcher Nic Lacayo, sitting at 2-3 on the day, to walk the Spartans off. 

“Well, bunt it fair and get it down,” Lacayo said as he described his thoughts before stepping up to the plate. “I had nothing to worry about. Nobody out. Just get it down - put us in a good position to win.”

Lacayo proceeded to execute one of the most difficult plays in baseball, laying down a perfect squeeze bunt down the first base line, ensuing the third base dugout to rush onto the artificially-lit field.

As the game remained scoreless through nine innings, so did sophomore starter Mason Erla’s stat line. The right-hander recorded 124 pitches through nine scoreless innings, allowing only two hits.

“Mason was unbelievable,” Boss said. “I don't know that he allowed a runner past first base…. He was in control the whole way, was able to throw three pitches for strikes, got ahead. It was a blueprint how to pitch, really.”

In the 10th, junior Indigo Diaz entered in relief, retiring the side and in an effort that earned him the win.

The Spartans will look to repeat against the Sycamores on April 6 at 4:05 p.m. at McLane Stadium.

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