In a battle against the second best team in the Big Ten, MSU was swept for the second time this season.
After the Spartans easily dismantled the Northwestern Wildcats, they looked to continue their success in Champaign against Illinois. Spartan junior Mick VanVossen looked to improve over his last outing in the first of the three-game series.
The Illini got on the board early against VanVossen as Illinois took a 2-0 lead after the third inning. The Spartans captured a 4-2 lead after some clutch hitting by right fielder Jimmy Pickens.
However, the lead did not last long as Illinois took a late-game lead that won them the game. Giving up late-inning runs seemed to be a theme in this series for MSU.
In game two, it was sophomore Justin Alleman on the mound for Michigan State. The breakdown was almost identical as game one as Illinois again got off to a hot start. The Fighting Illini were up 2-0 after two innings.
Yet again however, Michigan State would show resilience as they took the lead, 4-3, after a couple of home runs from Ryan Krill and Joel Fisher. However, the two bombs would not be enough as the Illini would tie up the game in the sixth with a homer of their own, and take the game into extras.
Illini Casey Fletcher won game two with a single down the third baseline to give Illinois the win in extras.
With the series already lost, the Spartans looked to salvage something from the weekend in Illinois.
The final game of the series pitted freshman Cam Vieaux against Illinois sophomore Kevin Duchene.
The third game of the series showed promise for the Spartans as they opened up the game with the first run. Not before long it was the seventh inning and MSU held an 8-3 lead versus the Illini.
Yet again, Illinois would overtake the lead with a late game rally. Michigan State had the lead headed into the ninth inning. Closer Jeff Kinley gave up his second save of the series, giving up three runs in the bottom of the ninth.
With the series lost, Michigan State stands now at 24-20, and sits currently at sixth in the Big Ten with only two Big Ten series left.
Look for MSU to try and gain some ground to ensure a position in the Big Ten baseball tournament.
The Spartans take on the conference leading Nebraska Cornhuskers this upcoming weekend in a huge series at home.
Zac Swierad is the host of Warning Track for Impact Sports.
Photo: Hannah McEnroe/Impact Sports