Friday, March 24, 2023

MSU loses 1st game of series with Nebraska; losing streak now at 6 games

April 23, 2021
Senior outfielder Joe Acker celebrates as he crosses home plate on April 23, 2021. Nebraska beat the Spartans 4-0.
Senior outfielder Joe Acker celebrates as he crosses home plate on April 23, 2021. Nebraska beat the Spartans 4-0. —
Photo by Devin Anderson-Torrez | The State News

MSU suffered their sixth straight loss as a hot pitching start wasn’t enough to stop the red-hot Nebraska Huskers, who won their fifth straight game after beating MSU 4 to 0 in the first game of their weekend series.

MSU’s star pitcher Mason Erla started the game on the mound, and he began the game dealing, stumping Nebraska’s hitters. 

Erla started the game with 1-2-3 innings in the first and second innings, then struck out the side in the third. He totaled six strikeouts in the first three innings alone. 

In the top of the fourth, Erla began to cool down and make some mistakes. After Erla hit the leadoff batter, Nebraska hit an RBI double to deep left-center field, followed by a single with 1 out to put runners on the corners for Nebraska. 

A ground out to second base scored a run with two outs, but Erla was able to force another ground ball to stop the bleeding and keep Nebraska’s lead at a manageable 2-0. 

Erla took the mound again in the top of the fifth and just wasn’t able to keep the magic he started the game with going. After Erla hit another batter and MSU was unable to turn a double play early in the inning, Nebraska smashed another RBI double in almost the same exact spot in left-center field to increase the lead to 3-0 for Nebraska. 

After a fielder’s choice by Jebb put runners on the corners with two outs once again for Nebraska, MSU had a chance to get out of the inning with minimal damage. Jebb scooped up a ground ball and fired it over to Peterson at first base, but the throw was a little short and Peterson was unable to hold on, keeping the inning going and scoring a run. Erla was able to get a strikeout to end the inning, but Nebraska’s lead had now ballooned to 4-0. 

MSU had their best chance to put runs on the board in the bottom in the fifth. 

The inning began strongly as Bryce Kelley hit a leadoff single, but with two outs and runners on second and third, Kelley was caught in between second and third base in a pickle, notching MSU’s second baserunning mistake of the day and taking a runner out of scoring position. MSU ended the inning with a strikeout, keeping them scoreless. 

"We had some good situations to run and we didn't quite execute," said head coach Jake Boss. "I trust Bryce Kelley on the bases more so than anybody that we've ever had."

Boss said that aggressive base running is part of what MSU does and they won't let one bad game deter them from that identity.

Erla’s day came to a close as William Christophersen came in and took over the mound in the sixth inning. Christophersen put in two good half-innings of pitching, not allowing any more runs and pitching four strikeouts, but MSU’s bats remained quiet and couldn’t supply and run support. 

After Christophersen pitched a good top of the sixth, MSU’s offense was in another golden position to score in the bottom of the sixth. After a Jebb single with one out loaded the bases, Bailey Peterson grounded into a double-play to end the inning, leaving the inning still scoreless heading into the seventh. 

Zach Hopman replaced Christophersen in the top of the eighth inning and pitched the last two innings for MSU. He also kept Nebraska scoreless, but MSU’s batters left seven runners on base throughout the game and couldn’t get hot enough to produce any runs against a Nebraska team who pitched very well.  

"We really need to do a better job of trying to do damage when we do swing the bat," said Boss. "The mindset has got to change a little bit."

MSU has a quick turnaround as they get ready for the second game of their three-game series against Nebraska tomorrow.

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