On a clear but cold afternoon at the McLane Stadium, 405 baseball fans watched a fascinating pitcher’s duel that ended in a 4-2 win for Eastern Michigan. After the impressive performance against Oregon at the weekend, the Michigan State offense failed to deliver in yet another midweek game.
Jordan Zimmerman was again the catalyst for the MSU offense early on, as his single in the first inning was the first hit of the game. Zimmerman continued his now 17-game hitting streak with a line drive over the second baseman before Dan Durkin doubled down the left field line to score the game’s first run. After a Brandon Hughes sacrifice bunt moved Durkin to third, there was a stroke of good luck for the Spartans, as Eastern starter Brent Mattson bounced in a pitch past catcher Tony Dileo to score Durkin from third.
Ethan Landon started the game on the mound for the Spartans. But lasted just one inning after walking a batter before a 4-6-3 double play started the MSU defense on the right foot. Walter Borkovich came on in relief, but Eastern cut the deficit in half thanks to a solo home run in the third inning from Dileo, his second career homer against the Spartans.The dinger from Dileo killed off early momentum from Borkovich, who let up just the one hit and one earned run in his two innings of work.
Michigan State’s offense again struggled in a midweek game, as they had against Oakland the week before. Eastern starter Brent Mattson settled down well after the two-run first, going five and one-third innings and letting up just three hits and two runs, with one unearned. Spartan coach Jake Boss Jr. was again unimpressed with his team’s performance against inferior opposition.
“We need to learn how to compete, we think that trying is competing and that’s not accurate at all. We need to see a better effort moving forward.” Boss said.
Eastern tied the game in the sixth inning, as MSU righty Jake Lowery ran into trouble courtesy of a home run from designated hitter Jeremy Stidham. Stidham’s line drive shot got out quickly over the 375 sign in left center field to tie the game at two.
There was further trouble from the Spartan pitching staff, as Lowery ran into trouble in the seventh. The Eastern catcher, Dileo, was again a thorn in the side of the Spartans. A double scored the go-ahead run, which proved to be the winning run.
Lowery loaded the bases with no outs later in the inning, and Dakota Mekkes was called in to stop the bleeding. Mekkes struck out the first batter he saw before Eastern shortstop Marquise Gill botched a squeeze bunt attempt, which the first baseman Zimmerman caught on the fly before doubling up the runner at third.
The Spartan bats were stymied by Eastern pitcher Samuel Delaplane, who after loading the bases early in the eighth inning, was able to get out of the jam by striking out Taylor Grace and getting Justin Hovis to ground out the short.
In the top of the inning, an insurance run was added for the Eagles. Mike Mioduszewski doubled off the left field wall, scoring two runs and making the score 4-2.
The bottom of the Spartan order went down tamely in the ninth. Delaplane saved his second game of the season and handed the Spartans their sixth loss on the season.
After Wednesday’s exhibition against the Toronto A level affiliate Lansing Lugnuts, the Spartans will travel to Penn State for a three-game series. First pitch on Friday set for 6:30 p.m.