Michigan State Nipped By New Orleans

PHOTO COURTESY OF MSU SID
PHOTO COURTESY OF MSU SID

NEW ORLEANS -- Home runs by Zaid Walker and Adam Proctor were not enough for Michigan State baseball as MSU was nipped by New Orleans, 6-4, Sunday afternoon at UNO's Maestri Field. Sunday was the rubber match to wrap up the three-game season-opening weekend series.

MSU was victorious Friday night's season-opener, 8-4, before UNO won Saturday's contest, 4-1, before the Privateers captured the series with Sunday's win.

"Very disappointed in the result for today and for the weekend," MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. said. "I feel like we shot ourselves in the foot a little bit today, on the bases, on the mound, defensively and offensively, kind of all the way around. The schedule gets significantly tougher from this point forward, so we need to clean some things up and clean them up in a hurry."

Freshman outfielder Walker smashed his first home run of his Spartan career with a bash off the Maestri Field scoreboard in left field in the third.

"Zaid is a talented kid and he's going to have a very, very good career here. It's always good for those freshmen to accomplish their firsts and hopefully that's the first of many for him," Boss said.

Sophomore catcher Proctor smashed his round-tripper with a solo shot to right field in the ninth.

Junior infielder Justin Antoncic was 2-for-4 with an RBI, while senior designated hitter Dan Chmielewski was 2-for-4.

On the mound, junior pitcher Indigo Diaz made his Spartan debut, going 5.1 innings with nine strikeouts, scattering six hits and yielding three runs.

"Indigo threw well today," Boss said. "I think I probably left him in one inning too long, especially this early in the season. I don't think I put him in a good situation in that sixth inning, so that's on me, but he competed his tail off and I thought he was pretty sharp today."

The Spartans jumped out on top early with Walker's two-out home run in the top of the second. Senior infielder Marty Bechina followed with a double and stole third, but the rally fizzled with a groundout to end the frame.

Diaz quickly got the Spartans back in the dugout by striking out the side for a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the second, chalking up a punchout in four of the first six outs.

MSU threatened in the top of the third, getting one on after a two-out single by Antoncic, but after moving up to second he was picked off second to end the threat.

Salo Iza belted a two-run home run to give the Privateers at 2-1 lead in the third. The Spartans tried to counter in the fourth, getting two on after a two-out single by Chmielewski. He then stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch, then Walker drew a walk to put runners on the corners, but the Privateers got out of it with a nifty defensive play by UNO shortstop Darren Willis.

Pearce Howard added a solo shot in the home half of the fourth for a 3-1 Privateer advantage.

The Spartans got a run back in the bottom of the fifth to close to 3-2 after senior catcher Nic Lacayo led off with a single and Antoncic drove him in with an RBI triple to left center. The Privateers tried to counter in the bottom of the fifth with a two-out triple and hit-by-pitch, but Diaz got out of the jam with a fly out.

Walker nearly had his second round-tripper of the day, but his deep fly was caught at the wall in deep center by UNO center fielder Wade Raburn to end the sixth as MSU went down in order.

Michigan State rallied in the seventh, as Lacayo sparked the rally with a one-out walk. Redshirt-freshman Brendan Regan came on to pinch run for Lacayo, and after a UNO pitching change and a strikeout, Trahey roped a double to right center to plate Regan and level the score at 3-all.

The tie game didn't last long as the Privateers plated a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh, taking advantage of a wild pitch and RBI single, and added another run in the home half of the eighth on an RBI single to take a 6-3 lead.

MSU didn't go quietly in the ninth, as sophomore catcher Adam Proctor belted a deep home run to right field to pull the visitors within 6-4 and junior pinch hitter Andrew Morrow walked, but a double play ended the Spartan rally and the game.

Michigan State continues its road stretch to open the season by heading to Conway, S.C. for the Coastal Carolina Brittain Resorts Baseball at the Beach next weekend. MSU will take on host Coastal Carolina in a doubleheader on Friday, Feb. 22 starting at 12 p.m. ET. The Spartans face North Carolina State on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 11 a.m. and wrap up the weekend against Kent State on Sunday, Feb. 24 at 11 a.m.

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