No. 24 Spartans Drop Series Opener With Nebraska

MSU Baseball 2016.  Photo courtesy of MSU SID.
MSU Baseball 2016. Photo courtesy of MSU SID.

No. 24 Spartans Drop Series Opener With Nebraska

EAST LANSING - The 24th-ranked Michigan State baseball team fell to Nebraska, 6-3, in the opening game of the weekend series between the teams at McLane Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Cornhuskers never trailed and their three unearned runs in the top of the fifth inning proved to be the difference.

“They played better than we did today, give them credit. They are a good ballclub,” said MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. “We had opportunities to make plays in all three phases – on the mound, defensively and offensively – and didn’t get it done. It was a tough day, but we get the chance to play again tomorrow.”

Nebraska (29-16, 10-6) jumped on the Spartans quickly, scoring two runs in the top of the first on consecutive run-scoring hits by Jake Meyers and Ben Miller.

An error by Nebraska allowed Matt Byars to score in the bottom of the second as the Spartans (30-12, 10-6) cut the Cornhuskers’ lead in half, 2-1.

Nebraska answered in the top half of the third with an RBI groundout by Jesse Wilkening to reestablish its two-run lead.

Nebraska forced MSU starter Ethan Landon to labor his entire outing as at least two Huskers reached base in each of the first four innings. Three hits and a pair of Spartan errors pushed the Nebraska lead to 6-1 in the top of the fifth inning, spelling the end of the day for Landon. All three of the Nebraska runs were unearned and came with two outs.

Dan Durkin, who was the only Spartan with two hits on Saturday, made it a 6-2 game in the bottom of the sixth with a solo shot over the wall in right center field for his fifth home run of the year.

Consecutive singles and a walk to lead off the bottom of the eighth gave the Spartans’ their best offensive threat of the afternoon as they looked to climb back into the game. The Cornhuskers were able to quickly extinguish the Spartan rally however, as closer Chad Luensmann – the fourth pitcher of the inning – induced a groundball off Zack McGuire’s bat that turned into a double play. A run scored on the play, but Luensmann got the next hitter, Marty Bechina to line out.

“We just didn’t execute today, it was very disappointing,” said Boss.

Landon took the loss – just his second of the season – to fall to 6-2 on the year. Nebraska starter Derek Burkhamper scattered four hits over 5.1 innings to earn the win.

Michigan State and Nebraska will play game two of the series on Sunday at 1:05 p.m.

The Spartans honored members of the Armed Forces on Saturday with their annual Military Appreciation Day.