Michigan State (16-21, 7-5) sent Ethan Landon to the rubber for the second Friday in a row, coming off a seven-hit, three-run performance against Northwestern. MSU pitching kept Maryland (17-24, 3-9) hitters in check en route to a 4-2 victory and a 1-0 series lead.
The Terrapins scored the game’s first run in the second with a two-out single to right field, scoring Zach Jancarski. Right fielder Marty Bechina nearly nailed Jancarski at the plate, but the throw sailed a few feet up the third base line making it tough for Adam Proctor to apply a tag.
The Spartans answered in the bottom half on a Danny Gleaves single to center scoring Zack McGuire – his seventh RBI on the year. Bechina flied to the warning track just missing his fifth home run of the season. Despite the warm 60 degrees at first pitch, the wind howled in from the north and played a factor on his long fly ball. Nonetheless, they knotted the score at 1-1.
In the third, Justin Antoncic sent a ball to the right-field fence, where Terps fielder Randy Bednar crashed into the wall near the 302’ marker. Antoncic settled for a double and scored on Chad Roskelly’s single past Maryland’s diving third baseman Taylor Wright. MSU took their first lead 2-1.
“I definitely like coming up with runners in scoring position,” Roskelly said. “Those guys [Kelley and Antoncic] are very fast, both of them. Knowing that they’re on base, I know they can score on a double or even make something happen.”
Spartans doubled their lead in the fourth on an RBI single by shortstop Kory Young. He’s filling in for everyday shortstop Ryan King and starting his second game in a row. Young is 1-for-16 on the season (.056) but has seen more chances as of late.
Maryland’s offense threatened in the sixth, putting runners on second and third with no outs, but only pushed one across. Landon’s day came to an end for senior Jake Lowery. On the first pitch from Lowery, the Terps attempted a suicide squeeze, which failed as Lowery glove-flipped to Proctor for the out. A stolen base attempt scored a run as Proctor’s throw trickled away from Antoncic allowing Kevin Biondic to score and trim the Spartans lead to 3-2.
“I give Jake a lot of credit. He got us out of a big situation – second and third with nobody out and to only allow one run is huge for him and for our ballclub,” head coach Jake Boss Jr. said.
Kelley and the Spartans added an insurance run in the seventh for reliever Mitchell Tyranski. Gleaves scored on a double to center by Kelley to take back their two-run lead, 4-2.
After Landon’s outing, Lowery, Tyranski and Riley McCauley relieved the senior. They combined for five strikeouts, and allowed one baserunner through four innings.
“The bullpen has been lights out,” Boss Jr. said. “I think that’s the biggest thing. I think those guys at the back end of the game have been really, really good, and when we’ve gotten a lead we’ve been able to hang onto the lead. You really can shorten the game a little bit and feel good about it when you do get a lead.”
Roskelly finished 1-for-4 and extended his hit streak to 15 games. He’s hitting .298 after starting the first month of the season at .080. It’s been over a month since the last time he’s played without a hit. During this stretch, he’s had four multi-RBI and multi-hit games.
“I changed my approach a little bit,” Roskelly said. “I was going up there trying to swing as hard as I could, trying to hit doubles and home runs. Last year when I was my best, I was shooting for singles and the doubles and home runs would come.”
MSU is now 7-5 in the B1G and sits in sole possession of the No.7 spot in the conference standings.
“Just past the midway point right now so there’s a long way to go, but at the same time we’ve got some momentum, I think,” Boss Jr. said. “It’s important to keep that momentum as we move forward after a really tough start. Now we just need to keep it going.”
WP – Ethan Landon (3-5; 5 IP, 2 R, 3 H, 4 K)
LP – Mark DiLuia (1-4; 6.2 IP, 4 R, 6 H, 1 K)
SV – Riley McCauley (3)
The series continues Saturday with a 1:05 p.m. EST first pitch from McLane Stadium. The Spartans send Mason Erla to the hill against Maryland’s junior right-hander Hunter Parsons.