Spartans Split Twinbill At Penn State

Michigan State baseball  (PHOTO:  MSU SID)
Michigan State baseball (PHOTO: MSU SID)

Spartans Split Twinbill At Penn State

MSU takes nightcap, 6-4, after falling in first game

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Michigan State baseball won the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader at Penn State, 6-4, to split the twinbill after the Nittany Lions won the first game, 6-1 at PSU’s Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

The Spartans moved to 17-25 overall and 8-9 in Big Ten Conference competition, while the Nittany Lions slid to 11-29 overall and 3-18 in league play. With Saturday’s split, the Spartans have won nine of the last 12 with the Nittany Lions, improving to 53-37 in the all-time series.

Sophomore center fielder Danny Gleaves was 4-for-4, including two doubles, and stole three bases in the nightcap. Gleaves is the first Spartan to go 4-for-4 in a game this season and the second to have four hits in a game, as junior infielder Royce Ando was 4-for-5 against Clemson on March 7. It was the second time this season and third of his career that Gleaves has swiped three or more bases in a game, also doing so against Illinois on March 9. His career-best was four stolen bases at UNCG last season on Feb. 25, 2017.

The three stolen bases by Gleaves was part of six base swipes in the game for the Spartans, their second-best outing this season behind eight vs. Niagara on March 16. Junior right fielder Marty Bechina, freshman third baseman Zach Iverson and junior pinch runner Dan Chmielewski all had one base swipe apiece.

“It was much better in game two tonight. Danny Gleaves was the best player on the field there in game two, speed is a game-changer and he can certainly do that,” MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. said. “We were able to put some guys on base and get our running game going a little bit in game two today and it paid off.”

Michigan State rapped out 10 hits in the nightcap, for the 10th game this season with double-digit hits, moving to 7-3 when logging double digits.

Bechina was 2-for-4, while sophomore second baseman Justin Antoncic was 1-for-3 with an RBI and senior designated hitter Chad Roskelly was 1-for-4 with an RBI. Iverson and junior catcher Nic Lacayo were both 1-for-4 with a run scored, and senior first baseman Zack McGuire added a run scored.

While Gleaves paced the Spartans at the plate, senior Jake Lowery and junior Riley McCauley stymied the Penn State bats, holding the home team to only three hits while only walking one in final five frames. Lowery came out of the bullpen to relieve sophomore starter Mike Mokma, who went 4.0 IP, scattering five hits.

Coming on in the fifth, Lowery pitched 3.0 innings, chalking up three strikeouts, while yielding just two hits, including a stretch of retiring seven in a row, and earned the win, improving to 4-2 on the season. McCauley pitched the eighth and ninth innings, firing four strikeouts in the 2.0 IP, including striking out the side around a two-out single in the ninth, to earn the save, his fourth of the season and third in his last four appearances.

“I thought we got a decent start out of Mike Mokma, still not as sharp as we would’ve liked and know that he can do, but still a good start. Then the bullpen was very, very good in the second game. Those two guys are throwing as good as anybody right now, we’ve just got to be able to get to them,” Boss said about Lowery and McCauley. “We feel like if we can keep the game close and get a lead in the middle of it, we’ll be in pretty good shape at the end.”

Redshirt-freshman Mason Erla was the Spartans’ starter in the opening game, going 5.0 IP, firing five strikeouts while scattering five hits and allowing three runs. Sophomore Mitchell Tyranski went 2.0 innings, logging two strikeouts and yielding three runs off five hits. Sophomore Sam Benschoter pitched the final inning, not allowing a hit.

MSU’s bats were limited to just three hits, with Antoncic and Iverson going 1-for-3, while sophomore left fielder Bryce Kelley was 1-for-4. Gleaves reached on a walk and tallied one stolen base and a run scored.

In the opener, Erla was dealing early on, striking out the side around a two-out walk, in the bottom of the second.

The Spartans took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third, as Gleaves reached on a walk, moved to second on a groundout, stole third and scored on a sacrifice fly by Roskelly.

Erla retired the side in order in the bottom of the third, but the Nittany Lions tied it up at 1-all in the bottom of the fifth on a solo home run to right field by Ryan Sloniger. An inning later, Penn State plated four runs on three hits and took advantage of two MSU errors, taking a 5-1 lead.

After the home team added a run in the bottom of the seventh for a 6-1 lead, the visiting Spartans threatened in the top of the eighth, loading the bases without any outs on pair of hit by pitches sandwiched around a walk, but were unable to plate a run. MSU went down in order in the top of the ninth to end the game.

Just like in the opener, the Spartans scored a run in the top of the first to open the nightcap, as Gleaves started the rally with a one-out single and stealing second. Antoncic followed with a walk before Gleaves scored on a Penn State throwing error when Nittany Lion pitcher Taylor Lehman tried to pick off Antoncic at first, allowing Gleaves to scamper around home and give MSU a 1-0 lead.

The Spartans’ lead didn’t last long as the Nittany Lions plated two runs in the home half of the first, stringing together three-straight singles and a sacrifice fly, to take a 2-1 advantage.

After being stymied to only scoring two runs in the first two games of the series, Michigan State hung three runs on the board in the second inning. After Iverson led off with a single and stole second, McGuire laid down a sac bunt, that Lehman scooped up but his throw was wide and went down the right field line, and Iverson came around to score, while McGuire advanced to second. A wild pitch moved McGuire to third and Lacayo drove him in with an RBI single to left, chasing Lehman and bringing in Bailey Dees to pitch. Two batters later, Gleaves singled to right to drive in Lacayo and put the Spartans on top 4-2.

Penn State leveled the score at 4 with a two-run double by Shea Sbranti, but the Spartans took the lead in the top of the fifth. Gleaves doubled to left field, with some heads up base-running scampering to second, then stole third for his third stolen base of the day. Antoncic singled through the left side to plate Antoncic and give MSU a 5-4 lead.

The Spartans added to their lead in the top of the eighth. Gleaves led off with a ground-rule double, then two batters later, Roskelly singled to left center to plate Gleaves and put MSU ahead 6-4.

McCauley sealed the victory for MSU, pitching the eighth and ninth innings, earning the save, chalking up four strikeouts, including striking out the side around a two-out single in the ninth to end the game.

Michigan State hosts Michigan in a non-conference contest on Wednesday, May 9 at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field at 3:05 p.m. The Spartans then head to Minneapolis for a three-game conference series at Minnesota, Friday-Sunday, May 11-13. Friday’s opener is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET, followed by Saturday’s 3 p.m. ET start time The series finale on Sunday is slated for a 2 p.m. ET first pitch.

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