Late-inning errors come back to bite MSU baseball against Niagara

EAST LANSING, MI — The Michigan State baseball team (5-11) dropped game two of their four-game series against Niagara University (3-9) on Friday afternoon at McLane Baseball Stadium. The Spartans lost by a score of 3-2 in what most would consider a rather sloppy performance.

“We had two errors in the ninth, it should’ve been three.”’ Spartans’ head coach Jake Boss Jr. said after the game. “We’ve got to play cleaner baseball.”

Starting on the mound for the Spartans was senior Ethan Landon, who ran into a little trouble in the first inning, letting up a single to left field to Niagara center fielder Dawson Bailey and another base hit to shortstop Greg Cullen two batters later. Landon was able to settle down, however, as he was able to record two consecutive outs thanks to a strikeout and a groundout to end the inning.

MSU left fielder Bryce Kelley led off the bottom half of the first inning with a base hit to left field. That would be the only hit they would record in the inning, however.

Landon went on to settle down after the first inning. In the top half of the second inning, Niagara designated hitter Wyatt Olson reached base on an error by Spartan third baseman Marty Bechina. After the error, Landon retired the next three batters in order.

Moving to the top half of the third inning, Landon ran into trouble again, giving up a one-out walk to right fielder Trevor McCauley then a double to left field to Cullen. With runners on second and third, Battaglia hit a sacrifice fly to right field, allowing McCauley to score. Landon was able to work out of the inning with limited damage thanks to a groundout from Dziados to end the inning.

The fourth inning was as smooth as can be for Landon, recording the first two outs via a flyout to left field off the bat of Olson and a ground out by left fielder Benny Serrano. Landon ended the inning by catching catcher Joseph Tevlin looking for strike three, recording his his fourth strike out in as many innings.

The Spartans wouldn’t record their second hit of the game until the fourth inning when catcher Nic Lacayo singled to left center field with two outs away. However, Lacayo would be thrown out attempting to steal second base, ending the inning.

Landon had another 1-2-3 inning in the sixth inning. He got NU’s Owen Dziados to fly out to left field and Olson to fly out to right field as well as Serrano to ground out to second base to end the inning.

The Spartans finally crossed the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning. Kelley recorded his second hit of the game to start off the inning and moved himself into scoring position after swiping second base. Next, right fielder Dan Chmielewski sent one to the gap in left field, driving in Kelley for the first run of the game. The next batter, designated hitter Justin Antoncic, singled up the middle, scoring Chmielewski and giving the Spartans their first lead of the game.

Landon came back on in the seventh inning and retired all three batters he faced yet again, finishing off seven consecutive hitters going back to the fifth inning. He finished with the night with one run, five hits and six strikeouts over seven innings pitched.

Sophomore Mitchell Tyranski took over on the mound in the eighth inning for Landon. Tyranski let up a one-out walk to Cullen but retired the other two batters, and stranding the runner.

From here on out, it was rather rough sailing for the Spartans.

Tyranski ran into trouble in the ninth inning. The leadoff hitter Olson reached base on a throwing error from Spartan shortstop Ryan King. The next batter, Serrano, singled to the right side of the infield, making it runners at first and third for Niagara.

Mike Mokma took over for Tyranski. Mokma got pinch hitter Kokoski to pop up to shallow left field, holding the runners at first and third. However, the next batter, Michael Gabriele, pinch hitting for second baseman Nick Bernick, hit a ground ball to the left side of the infield. Bechina came home with the ball but the tag by Lacayo was not in time, tying the game at two.

In the next at-bat, Bailey hit a ground ball to second baseman Royce Ando. A potential double play resulted in a throwing error by Ando, who threw the ball past King and into left field allowing another run to cross the plate, making the score 3-2 in favor of Niagara.

Antoncic struck out before Ando and Zach Iverson were retired to end the game.

Final Line: WP – Ben Erwin (1.2 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 2 K), LP – Mitchell Tyranski (1 IP, 2 R, 1 H, 0 K)

The Spartans will be back in action on Saturday afternoon against Niagara in the third game of the series. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m. ET. at McLane Baseball Stadium.