Missed opportunities and big bats from the Indiana Hoosiers (11-2) proved too much to overcome for Michigan State Baseball (6-8) as they fell on Saturday to Indiana, 10-4.
In the first inning, the bats were hot for both squads as Indiana jumped out with a 1-0 early lead as Hoosiers left fielder Drew Ashley scored off of second baseman Paul Toetz’s groundout to Michigan State shortstop Mitch Jebb.
The Spartans quickly answered in the bottom of the first as second baseman Trent Farquhar was walked and advanced to second base on a wild pitch and eventually scored as senior outfielder Bryce Kelley hit a single out to third base. It was then that the Spartans looked to add more in the bottom of the first with a man on first and second base, but three consecutive outs squandered a prime opportunity for Michigan State to take an early advantage.
After starting pitcher Adam Berghorst threw a solid inning by only facing four batters and striking out one, the Spartans had another prime opportunity in the bottom of the second with the bases loaded and only one out.
However, Farquhar’s groundout caused a double play that once again eliminated a solid opportunity for Michigan State to get points on the board.
“There’s a lot of good opponents in this league and you have to take advantage of the opportunities that you do get,” Michigan State Head Coach Jake Boss said. “We missed the sign, the backside runner got thrown out, those are a couple things that really shouldn't happen and unfortunately they did. We missed out on a couple opportunities when we had them, it's a different ball game if we execute early.”
The Hoosiers then took advantage of the Spartans’ missed opportunities as the Hoosiers racked up four runs on behalf of a solo shot from Ashley and a three-run homer from first baseman Jordan Fucci to take an early 4-1 advantage.
The Spartans, despite a strong start, would fall flat from the third inning to the seventh inning as the Hoosiers retired three consecutive batters in four of those five innings to retain their lead.
Sam Benschoter would come in to relieve Berghorst in the fourth inning to try and quell the Hoosiers’ hot bats, but that effort came to end in the sixth inning as Indiana as a wild pitch and a throwing error contributed three more runs for the Hoosiers.
In the eighth inning, the Hoosiers still kept their foot on the gas on Benschoter, scoring two more runs to truly make any attempt from the Spartans futile in the final innings.
The Spartans gave it their best effort in the final two innings as Farquhar scored for the Spartans in the eighth inning off of an Indiana error and pinch hitters in the ninth inning provided the spark the Spartans were looking for all afternoon.
The Spartans racked up four consecutive hits from pinch hitters in Jack Frank, Andrew Morrow, Casey Mayes and Dillon Kark.
Mayes’ single to left-center field allowed Frank to score and after another throwing error by the Hoosiers, Kelley advanced to first base and Morrow scored. However, the rally would be cut down as the Hoosiers recorded two strikeouts to end the game at 10-4.
“Give those guys credit, they were into the ballgame mentally even though they’ve been sitting around for a couple hours and took advantage of their opportunity,” Boss said. “I think it's a good lesson for a lot of the young guys to learn, you have to be ready when your number's called.”
On this day Kelley was the lone bright spot in the Spartans’ lineup, hitting 2-5 and driving in one run.
Despite a rough outing for Berghorst, Boss was still content with his young pitcher's performance and is hopeful for his future.
“Not bad, I mean the numbers are not as good as what he's been in the past, I think he's been better,” Boss said. “He threw a lot of pitches in three and two-thirds innings, and it was just good to limit the damage there in the beginning that they had in third. He'll be better. He's a talented kid and he's got a bright future ahead of him.”
Berghorst would go on to finish with giving up four hits, five runs and three walks, but would still strikeout five. Benschoter despite his strong start would go on to give up seven hits and five runs, but would still strike out 10.
Michigan State will look to avoid being swept by the Hoosiers on Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m.
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“Cleaner baseball and being fundamentally better,” Boss said. “We can't get away with a lot of the mistakes that we made today. We are very capable, I think this is a good ball club, but we got to play well.”
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