Spartan Baseball Falls at Iowa, 2-1

IOWA CITY, Iowa – The Michigan State baseball team fell at Iowa on Saturday afternoon at Duane Banks Field, 2-1. The Spartans are now 28-16 (9-8 Big Ten) on the season, while the Hawkeyes improve to 19-26 (7-13).

The game was a pitcher’s duel between Spartan starter David Garner and Hawkeye southpaw Sasha Kuebel.

Iowa took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second as Bryan Niedbalski led off with a double, advanced to third on a groundout, and scored on an Anthony Torres RBI single.

Kuebel held onto the lead all the way until the top of the eighth inning. The Spartans only put two runners in scoring position and managed just five hits in the first seven frames, but they finally broke through in the eighth to tie at the game at 1.

With two outs and nobody on base, Jimmy Pickens singled to right field and scored one batter later as Blaise Salter drove him home with a double to left center. Ryan Krill was then hit by a pitch and Joel Fisher walked to load the bases, but the Spartans couldn’t take advantage as Anthony Cheky popped up to second base to end the scoring threat.

Meanwhile, Garner was cruising through the middle innings and headed back out onto the mound in the bottom of the eighth. But a Spartan error to begin the inning paved the way for Iowa to score the game-winning run.

Nick Day led off and reached first on an error by shortstop Ryan Richardson. Day advanced to second on a sacrifice and then reached third following a wild pitch on a strike three that got past Fisher behind the plate. Garner bounced back for another strikeout for the second out of the inning, but Niedbalski delivered a two-out single through the right side to plate Day, giving Iowa the 2-1 advantage.

Garner (4-4) finished the game with nine strikeouts, a week after setting his career high with 10 against Illinois. He allowed seven hits and didn’t walk a batter in his 7 2/3 innings.

With a pitch count of 122, Kuebel exited the game to start the ninth and gave way to closer Nick Hibbing. Hibbing walked the first batter he faced, Kevin Goergen, and Goergen went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Justin Hovis. After a flyout for the second out of the inning, Richardson was hit by a pitch to place runners on first and second, but Pickens struck out swinging to end the game.

Kuebel (2-8) fanned three and walked one while allowing seven hits in his eight innings. Hibbing earned his fourth save of the year.

The Spartans collected seven hits and left 11 men on base, including five in scoring position. Pickens recorded the only multi-hit game for Michigan State as went 2-for-5.

MSU will look to salvage one game in the three-game series Sunday at 2:05 p.m. ET. The game will be streamed live on the Big Ten Digital Network.