Spartan offense stifled on Military Appreciation Day

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EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State’s five-game winning streak was snapped by Maryland, a team trying to find its way back into the Big Ten tournament outlook. A first inning home run and a four-run second propelled the Terps to a 8-2 win at McLane Stadium Saturday afternoon on Military Appreciation Day.

Mason Erla took the ball for the Spartans following one of his better performances against Northwestern last weekend. He spotted the Cats a run and three hits and took the win in a 4-2 victory. On Saturday, he wouldn’t make it out of the second inning as the Terps (18-24 overall, 4-9 Big Ten) scored early and often.

It took all of two hitters for Maryland to score in the first – the second game in a row they’ve scored first. Terps second baseman Nick Dunn homered to right with Marty Bechina taking just a few steps before watching it sail over the wall, giving them an early 1-0 lead.

Erla and the Spartans (16-22 overall, 7-6 Big Ten) ran into trouble again in the second spotting the Terps four more runs. Erla walked in a run, and Caleb Sleeman would do the same a hitter later after replacing him. Maryland’s Kevin Biondic snuck a base hit under Iverson’s glove which plated the final two of the inning and pushed the lead to 5-0.

“Six of the first twelve batters reached base by either walk or hit batter,” MSU coach Jake Boss Jr. said. “If he had been near the strike zone it’d be a lot different. He faced twelve hitters; five walks, one hit batter. You can say ground ball can get him out of it all you want but at the same time, if he’s not even close to the strike zone I can’t wait around.”

Bechina started the bottom of the third with a long foul ball over the left field fence. The initial ruling on the ball was a home run, but after the umpires converged, they called it a foul ball. Boss Jr. engaged in an animated conversation with the umpires lasting a few minutes, but to no avail.

Maryland tacked on three more after Erla’s departure. Relievers Sleeman and Evan Flohr surrendered a run a piece.

Former 40th round draft pick and Maryland pitcher Hunter Parsons didn’t allow a hit through three frames and allowed two runs on five hits. Those runs came on RBI singles by Iverson and Kory Young. He pitched seven innings and now sits at 71 2/3 innings this season, good for second in the conference.

MSU offense couldn’t find its spark finishing a total of 7-for-33 (.212) on the day and left nine men on. Chad Roskelly’s on-base and hit-streak came to a halt at 15 games, finishing the game 0-for-4.

“The approach was really bad,” Boss Jr. said. “The last swing of the game we hit a 1-0 pitch, we swing at a ball – it was very defensive. That ball may have been off the plate, I don’t know. It was like we were in a hit-and-run type of swing and that’s how it was all day long. Certainly not a way to win the ball game.”

Biondic relieved Parsons after the seventh. He threw the final two innings allowing two hits and a walk, striking out two. The Spartans didn’t score a run after the fifth inning and suffered their first loss in over two weeks.

“Disappointing the way that we played, but tomorrow – we still have a chance to win the series tomorrow,” Boss Jr. said.

WP – Hunter Parsons (4-2, 7 IP, 2 R, 5 H, 4 K)

LP – Mason Erla (5-3, 1 1/3 IP, 5 R, 2 H)

The Spartans will try to avoid falling to .500 in the B1G, and the Terps look to claw their way back into the B1G tournament field during the rubber match on Sunday. First pitch from McLane Stadium is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. EST. The Terps will send Tyler Blohm (4-2, 4.39 ERA) to the mound, while the Spartans’ starter has yet to be announced.

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