MICHIGAN STATE SPARTAN BASEBALL TAKEN DOWN BY THE #24 IOWA HAWKEYES

MICHIGAN STATE SPARTAN BASEBALL TAKEN DOWN BY THE #24 IOWA HAWKEYES

The Michigan State Spartans came up short on the road at the #24 Iowa Hawkeyes. Here is the report and picture courtesy of the MSU SID.

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Michigan State baseball rallied from an early 4-0 deficit at No. 24 Iowa Friday night, tying the game up in the sixth, but the Hawkeyes pulled away and won, 7-5, in the opener of the three-game series at Iowa's Banks Field.

Iowa's Zeb Adreon gave the home team Hawkeyes a 4-0 lead in the first frame with a grand slam to right field. However, MSU scratched and clawed back and eventually tied the game up, only to see Iowa counter and re-take the lead and the Spartans were unable to tie it again.

"We've competed hard all year long. To get down 4-nothing after four hitters is tough, but give our guys credit, they competed their tails off. Again, that's one thing that I think is a staple of our program and we earned a reputation for that and for good reason. At the end of the day, we just couldn't do enough at the end to win," MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. said. 

The Spartans countered with two runs in the third, then a run in the fifth and one in the top of the sixth to complete the comeback and level the game at 4-4. However, the tie was short-lived as Iowa plated a pair in the bottom of the sixth for a 6-4 advantage. MSU got one back in the top of the eighth to close to 6-5, but Iowa scored a run in the home half of the eighth for the 7-5 final score.

"We tied it in the sixth, but then we gave up two right back in the bottom of the sixth, and lost all kinds of momentum when that happened," Boss said. "Same thing in the eighth, we score to get within one, but then we balk a guy in in the bottom half of the inning and that completely changes the ninth for us. We had the leadoff hitter up and in a 1-run game we can do a lot more than we can in a 2-run game. Instead of the double play, we could've bunted, and things are a lot different. But that's baseball and at the end of the day, we've got to play better if we're going to win. This is a good Iowa team and they've got a lot to play for and we need to play better."

Senior infielder Royce Ando continued his hot streak, going 3-for-4 Friday night with two RBI and a run scored. Ando is now 14-for-30 (.462) in the last nine games and Friday's two-hit outing was his fourth multi-hit game in the last nine contests as part of his 13th game this season with multiple hits.

Sophomore infielder Zach Iverson had a career-high three hits on 3-for-4 outing with two doubles, rapping a career-high two doubles. 

The outfielder combo of senior Dan Chmielewski and Bryce Kelley were both an identical 2-for-5 and a run scored. Freshman outfielder Zaid Walker was 1-for-4 with an RBI, also remaining hot, as he is now 20-for-42 (.476) over the last 11 games with five RBI, 11 runs scored in that span, raising his average from .227 to its current .294.

Sophomore pitcher Mason Erla rallied from his rough start but settling down and setting down the Hawkeyes, before yielding in the sixth. Erla went 5.2 IP with three strikeouts, allowing six runs. Senior reliever Evan Flohr made his Big Ten-leading 27th appearance, going 1.1 IP with only two hits. Junior Caleb Sleeman came on in the eighth with runners on the corners and no outs, but a balk allowed a run in, before ringing up a pair of strikeouts and a groundout to end the eighth.

The home team Hawkeyes jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning on a grand slam by Zeb Adreon for an early advantage.

After the grand slam, Erla got the next three batters out and settled in, retiring the next 11 of 12 batters faced, allowing a single in the second, before setting down the next three Hawkeyes and then putting Iowa down in three-up, three-down fashion in the third. Erla got the first two batters out in the fourth, before yielding a two-out double by Tanner Padgett, who had the single in the second. However, Erla stranded Padgett at second by getting a flyout to end the frame.

Meanwhile, MSU cut the 4-0 deficit in half with two runs in the second on a 2-out rally, starting on a Chmielewski infield single, then Ando drove him in with a double for the Spartans' first run of the game. Walker then singled to drive in Ando for a 4-2 score.

The visitors got another run back in the top of the fifth, with Kelley leading off with a double. Kelley later moved up to third on a wild pitch and Ando singled up the middle to drive Kelley in and close the Spartans to 4-3.

Michigan State completed the four-run rally back with a run in the top of the sixth. Junior pinch hitter turned designated hitter Bailey Peterson reached on a one-out Iowa error. Iverson followed with a double to center, driving in Peterson and the game was tied a 4-all.

The game wasn't tied for long, as Iowa took advantage of a hit by pitch, then three singles in a span of four batters drove in two runs and chased Erla. Flohr came on and got a popup to end the inning, leaving two Hawkeyes on the bases, but not before the home team had a 7-5 lead. 

Peterson and Iverson were at the root of MSU's run in the top of the eighth, as Peterson got hit by a pitch, and Iverson doubled off the wall in left center to drive him and close the gap to 6-5.

However, Iowa rallied with a run in the bottom of the eighth, getting a double and single to lead off the frame off Flohr. MSU went to the bullpen and brought in Sleeman, but he was called for a balk, resulting in a Hawkeye run for the 7-5 final score.

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