Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Spartan bats flounder, Purdue cruises to 8-2 win to close out series

April 12, 2021
Michigan State's Nick Smith (37) pitching in the game against Purdue on April 12, 2021 at McLane Stadium at Kob's Field in East Lansing. The Spartans lost 8-2.
Michigan State's Nick Smith (37) pitching in the game against Purdue on April 12, 2021 at McLane Stadium at Kob's Field in East Lansing. The Spartans lost 8-2. —
Photo by Jillian Felton | The State News

The Michigan State baseball team ended the East Lansing pod with an 8-2 defeat at the hands of Purdue on Monday afternoon at McLane Baseball Stadium.

With the loss, MSU is now 11-11 on the year before heading to Illinois next weekend.

The Boilermakers wasted no time offensively scoring the first run of the game in the opening inning on an RBI sacrifice fly by right fielder Miles Simington. They continued to rally in the very next inning adding two more runs thanks to a double off the bat of shortstop Evan Albrecht, giving Purdue a 3-0 lead.

Sophomore Jackson Bennett took over on the bump for Michigan State starting pitcher Jesse Heikkinen after just two innings. For Bennett, Monday was his debut as a Spartan and he was superb retiring all three batters he faced.

"He is one of those guys that we were really counting on for to provide some depth in our bullpen," head coach Jake Boss Jr. said after the game. "Hopefully today was a step in the right direction for him. He's got a lot of ability and we are going to need it moving forward."

Bennett only got one inning of work, however. The rest of the game was a mix and match of MSU relief pitchers with four total pitchers from the bullpen getting time on the mound.

Freshman Adam Berghorst struggled for the Spartans allowing four runs in two innings pitched which pushed the Boilermakers’ lead to seven after five innings of play. Fellow freshman Zach Hopman was lights out allowing just one hit, one walk and no runs to finish off the game. Hopman, a Brighton, Michigan native, is yet to surrender a run on the season.

"When you have some bullpen struggles we've had, we are kind of searching for answers," Boss said. "He hasn't had many opportunities. It is a small sample size, but guys that throw well are going to get more opportunities, and I think he has earned himself another opportunity today. I give him a lot of credit."

Purdue starting pitcher Cory Brooks was phenomenal starting off with five scoreless innings. The Spartans finally knocked him out of the game in the sixth inning after a leadoff home run by freshman second baseman Trent Farquhar that just barely stayed fair down the right-field line, followed by a pair of MSU singles.

The other lone run by Michigan State came in the seventh inning on a double by Farquhar that scored third baseman Zach Iverson.

Despite the eight runs posted by Purdue, MSU had some solid plays in the field defensively, something that has been an inconsistent part of the Spartans’ season. Particularly in the early innings with the game very well still in the balance, shortstop Mitch Jebb made a great out on a ground ball that forced him away from first base in the second inning.

Centerfielder Joe Stewart followed it up with a great play of his own in the field in the third inning making a catch while crashing into the newly installed pads on the outfield wall.

Boss certainly was impressed by the two highlight plays, but also was displeased at some of the routine plays that were missed.

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"There were two great plays by those guys today by Mitch and Joe," Boss said. "At the same time, I felt like though there were a couple balls throughout the day in the outfield that normally get caught and those are the ones that ended up hurting us. We have talked to Mitch and all of our guys about making the routine play routinely, and if we can do that we have a chance to win a lot of games. The highlight-reel plays are just about being athletic, and we certainly have some athletic guys that are very capable, but at the end of the day we have to make the routine plays all the time if we want a chance to win."

MSU (11-11) gets a few days off before heading down to Champaign, Illinois for a weekend pod with two games against Illinois and two games against Purdue starting on Friday.

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