PHOENIX -- Michigan State baseball was defeated by No. 24 Arizona State Friday night in not only the series opener of the three-game weekend series, but the first-ever meeting on the diamond between the Spartans and Sun Devils, 8-0, at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
Friday was MSU's fourth game in the last five outings against a ranked opponent. The Spartans slid to 1-7 on the season with the loss, while the Sun Devils remain unbeaten at 9-0, entering Friday night as one of just 13 teams in NCAA baseball without a defeat.
"Arizona State is a very prolific offensive club, and we didn't do enough to slow that down tonight," MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. said. "We didn't make pitches when we had to and made a couple errors that ended up hurting us, and when you give a good team more opportunities, they're going to capitalize and Arizona State is a very, very good ball club. We had a couple chances to score, but shot ourselves in the foot a couple times. It was a disappointing day, but we'll be back tomorrow and ready to go."
ASU starter Alec Marsh earned the win to improve to 3-0, going 7.0 innings and dropping his ERA to 0.83. Spartan sophomore hurler Mason Erla took the loss, now 1-2 on the season. Fellow sophomores Jesse Heikkinen and Zach Iverson made relief appearances.
Senior shortstop Marty Bechina was 2-for-4 with a single and double. In addition to having two of MSU's seven hits on the night, Bechina also made numerous nifty defensive plays as well.
Junior first baseman Justin Antoncic, junior outfielder Bryce Kelley, junior second baseman Bailey Peterson, freshman designated hitter Zaid Walker and junior outfielder Danny Gleaves all had one hit apiece for the Spartans. Gleaves added a stolen base, while Antoncic and Walker each drew a walk.
MSU threatened in its first at bat as Kelley had a one-out infield single and moved to second on a throwing error on the play and later moved to third on a groundout, but was left on base to end the inning.
Sophomore pitcher Mason Erla got a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the first, working around a leadoff single, with a strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play as sophomore catcher Adam Proctor threw out the ASU runner trying to steal second, and the inning ended with a line drive snare by junior first baseman Justin Antoncic.
The Sun Devils broke through in the third inning, with Hunter Bishop belting a three-run home run to right. Lyle Lin followed with a single for ASU single before a line drive to Peterson at second for the second out and flip to Antoncic at first to double up Lin to end the frame.
Peterson tried to spark a Spartan rally in the top of the fourth with a two-out line drive single to right, but a groundout put a stop to the rally.
ASU added a run in the fourth with back-to-back singles to take a 4-0 lead. The Sun Devils plated three more in the sixth, chasing Erla and eventually Heikkinen, to take a 7-0 advantage.
After making a catch on a towering popup to end the sixth, Bechina led off the seventh by belting a double to left center. Bechina moved up to third after a fly out by Walker on a diving catch by Bishop, the ASU center fielder.
In the ninth, Bechina smacked a one-out double to left center, and Walker followed with a single to right, moving Bechina to third. However, a strikeout and deep fly out to center ended the MSU rally and the game.
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