The Michigan State Spartans started out the 2020 season on fire. Jake Boss has the men in green playing well. Today, they got their first loss of the campaign. Zach Fisher the MSU SID has this recap for us:
Michigan State Overtaken By Merrimack, Falls In Extras
Spartans dealt first loss of the season, drop 9-6 decision in 11 innings to open weekend in Greenville.
GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Michigan State baseball was overtaken by Merrimack, falling 9-6 in 11 innings Friday evening in the opening game of a four-game series at Fluor Field, home of the Greenville Drive.
The loss was MSU’s first of the season after opening 4-0, now 4-1 on the young season. Merrimack improved to 3-2 with the win. Friday was the first-ever meeting between the Spartans and Warriors.
Friday’s loss thwarted a second standout outing by junior pitcher Mason Erla on the mound and a 5-for-5 effort at the plate by senior infielder Bailey Peterson.
Erla fired 11 strikeouts, matching his career-high for the second outing in as many weeks after setting that career-best with 11 Ks last Friday vs. Morehead State. The junior hurler went 7.0 IP, allowing six his and two runs without a walk.
Peterson reached base all six times he was at the plate, adding a walk, along with a run and an RBI. He becomes the first Spartan to go perfect at the plate in four or more at bats since teammate Justin Antoncic went 4-for-4 last season vs. Indiana State on April 7.
“I’m extremely disappointed with tonight’s result, but give Merrimack credit, they played harder than we did and took advantage of the opportunities and we didn’t,” MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. said. “I thought Mason Erla pitched outstanding today and Bailey Peterson had a good night at the plate, but all-in-all, we had too many walks on the mound, too many errors in the field, and too many strikeouts and missed chances at the plate. We’ll be ready to go tomorrow.”
Junior third baseman Zach Iverson was 2-for-6 with two RBI. Senior designated hitter Andrew Morrow was 1-for-3 and an RBI and a run scored, snapping his perfect start to the season, but continued his extra-base streak with a double, his second of the year to go with a triple. Senior outfielder Bryce Kelley was 1-for-5 with two runs scored, while freshman infielder Dillon Kark was 1-for-4 and redshirt-freshman Peter Ahn was 1-for-6.
Merrimack got on the board first with a run in the top of the third on a sacrifice fly.
Michigan State countered with two runs in the fourth and fifth frames, with Morrow smacking a double to right center, plating Iverson who led off with a single, before junior catcher Adam Proctor drove him in on a sac fly in the fourth. Iverson drove in two runs in the fifth on a single up the middle, plating Kelley and Peterson who singled and each stole a base to move up.
The Warriors countered with a run in the top of the sixth on a solo home run by Thomas Joyce down the right field line, just inside the “Pesky Pole” of Fluor Field, which is mirrored and has the same specifications as Fenway Park of the Boston Red Sox, the Drive’s parent club.
MSU kept up its 2-run inning streak with a pair of runs in the sixth stanza, scoring on a Merrimack error, and later with Peterson driving in Kelley, who reached on a fielder’s choice, for a 6-2 advantage.
Merrimack rallied with a 4-run eighth inning, stringing together two hits and taking advantage of three walks, leveling the score at 6-all. Neither team scored the rest of the eighth or the ninth innings, sending the game to extras. The Warriors had a hit in the 10th, but nothing else going, while the Spartans threatened in the home half of the frame with a Peterson single and a walk by senior outfielder Danny Gleaves, but the rally fizzled without a run, extending the game. Merrimack scored three in the top of the 11th, with the big blow coming on a two-run double, part of the three-run frame to go ahead.
The Spartans went down in order to end the game.
Michigan State and Merrimack continue their four-game series with a doubleheader on Saturday, Feb. 22, starting at 1 p.m. at Fluor Field. The Spartans and Warriors wrap up their first-ever series on Sunday, also starting at 1 p.m.
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