For the first time in 678 days, MSU baseball played a game on their home field. However, an 8-2 loss to Indiana might’ve not been the homecoming the Spartans had dreamt of.
"Tough one for us today against a really good Indiana ball club," Head Coach Jake Boss Jr. said post game.
As for the homecoming, Boss said it felt good to be back.
"It's great to play at home," Boss said. "Guys were excited all day long about being able to get back into the routine of things. ... We love playing here. We take a lot of pride in playing here."
The air turned crisper as the Hoosiers dominated the green and white on Friday afternoon at McLane Stadium. Indiana ended the game with the score in their favor backed by .368 overall hitting percentage, which squashed the Spartans' .188.
MSU touched home first against the top team in the Big Ten. After an even start between the two teams, MSU infielder Mitch Jebb slammed one to the outfield that would bring himself a single and his teammate Zaid Walker to home plate in the bottom of the fourth inning.
In a deficit, the Hoosiers answered in the top of the fifth. The Spartans looked flustered after a deep hit to right center field fell from senior Joe Stewart’s mitt. The error advanced IU runners to scoring position on second and third base.
Indiana’s hitters found a sweet spot in hits up the center. With balls soaring past MSU pitcher Mason Erla, Indiana tallied two runs off RBI’s.
With bases loaded and two outs tallied, Indiana’s Jordan Fucci hit a double that brought two more IU players across home plate. Suddenly, the Spartans' lead had vanished.
In the bottom of the fifth, Stewart, whose error prompted the fourth inning IU run, found redemption at the plate, slamming one past the outfield to tally a Spartan run and his second home run of the season.
In the sixth, with bases loaded once again for IU, Erla gave away a third free base to Cole Barr that advanced Jeremy Houston to home plate.
In trouble, MSU junior Jordan Beatson took over for Erla. After pitching his best game in an 11-0 win over Illinois just six days prior, Erla struggled at the mound against the Hoosiers finishing the afternoon allowing 11 hits and eight runs, only four of which were earned.
"I don't think Mason had his best stuff," Boss said. "I think he would probably agree with that. He really competed though without his best stuff. I think he got himself out of some jams in the first four innings. ... Mason is our No. 1 guy there's no doubt about it. He's been sharper than he was today, but maybe you have to give Indiana a little bit of credit too."
Against his first batter, Beatson pitched a triple RBI to Indiana's Paul Toetz. IU had once again tripled their lead as the Spartans searched for answers. MSU escaped the inning when Fucci struck out, but the damage was seemingly done as Indiana grabbed a dominant 8-2 lead.
Neither team would make many moves after that. Despite a 1-2-3 top of the ninth for MSU, when the Spartans went to bat, nothing seemed to get going.
MSU will host IU again on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. for the second game in the series.
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