Michigan State began its first Big Ten home series against the Purdue Boilermakers with its ace on the mound whom in his last outing flirted with perfection through five innings. In Friday’s outing however, he flirted with disaster.
Mick VanVossen gave up two early runs in the game, and the Spartans never really seemed to be able to recover. They made multiple mental mistakes and could not come through in the clutch with runners in scoring position.
“We had chances and just didn’t get it done. Tried to produce. We were hanging in there,” MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. said. “We had plenty of opportunities to win the ball game and just didn’t get it done.”
On the mound, VanVossen quickly realized he would not be able to duplicate his performance from last week, giving up two runs on four hits and a walk in the second inning.
VanVossen settled into a nice rhythm as he fanned five straight batters in a row. At the least, he kept the Spartans in the game while waiting for some run support.
In the bottom of the third inning VanVossen would be granted his wish as right fielder Jimmy Pickens hit a shot over the right field wall into the Red Cedar River to pull the Spartans within one run.
The excitement would not last long as VanVossen would give up a solo shot to Purdue’s Steve Maniago, increasing the Boilermakers’ lead to 3-2.
The Spartans’ ace continued his day on the mound, eventually equalling his career-high in strikeouts with ten. VanVossen exited the game after the seventh inning. He finished the game giving up three runs on nine hits and 10 strikeouts.
The fixer-upper in the bullpen, Anthony Misiewicz came into the game trying to keep things in reach for Michigan State.
The offense tried to give Misiewicz some run support as Chase Toth came into the game as a pinch runner for first baseman Blaise Salter at third base in the bottom of the eighth inning. Fisher took advantage of the extra speed and hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield to bring in Toth and tie the game 3-3.
According to Boss, aggressiveness is encouraged at the plate.
“We want to be aggressive with strikes, we want to be the aggressor,” Boss said.
The Spartans were not aggressive enough, as an error and an RBI single for Michael Mullen would seal the deal and put Purdue up 5-3 with Michigan State coming to bat in the bottom of the ninth.
It came down to junior first baseman Ryan Krill with the game-winning opportunity in the bottom of the 10th with two outs. Spartan fans had their rally caps on when Krill was unable to capitalize with two men on base, as he hit into a double play that would end the inning.
However, the emotional game was too much for the Spartans as they fell to Purdue, 6-7.
Michigan State looks to rebound and win the series with a set of two games Saturday against the Boilermakers.
First pitch for game one is set for 1:05 p.m.
Zac Swierad is host of Warning Track for Impact Sports.
Photos: Jonathan Yales/Impact Sports