Game 1: EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State’s starter Kristina Zalewski recorded her third straight complete game with at least nine strikeouts. However, it was not enough as Michigan State (13-16, 1-3 BIG) lost to Indiana (11-21, 4-0 BIG), 3-2, in a close game where both teams left plenty of runners on base.
Indiana jumped to an early lead against Michigan State after Maddie Westmoreland singled to right field scoring Rebecca Blitz. The Hoosiers had an opportunity to extend their lead with the bases loaded. However, Zalewski struck out Sarah Galovich to end the top half of the inning.
Michigan State tried to answer in the bottom half of the first by loading the bases themselves, but catcher Kelsey Carrasco flew out to left field, ending the first inning.
There were few chances for both teams after the first inning as Zalewski and Indiana starter Tara Trainer continued to frustrate opposing hitters. However, Michigan State did have an opportunity to tie the game or take the lead. Right fielder McKenzie Long struck out in the bottom of the third with runners on second and third.
Michigan State finally got on the board in the bottom of the fourth thanks to a solo homerun from Carrasco, who crushed a 3-2 pitch over the left field wall. The Spartans would take a 2-1 lead late in the inning thanks to some clutch two-out hitting. First, second basemen Melanie Bacay tripled over the right fielder’s head to get into scoring position, and Lea Foerster knocked her in with a double down the left-field line.
“Today they threw me a lot more strikes, and I was just taking advantage of the good pitches that I got,” said Foerster.
Indiana answered in the top of the fifth after right fielder Gabbi Jenkins tripled to left-center field, scoring Taylor Uden from first. Indiana then took a 3-2 lead after Westmoreland ripped a single into left field scoring Blitz from third.
Michigan State’s Jordan Davis had an opportunity with runners on second and third to put runs on the board in the bottom of the fifth, but struck out to end the inning.
After the fifth inning there were few opportunities for both teams. Carrasco came to the plate in the bottom of the seventh with the tying run on first and two outs, but grounded out to third base to end game one.
Game 2: Senior pitcher Bridgette Rainey was honored before game as Michigan State fell short again 3-2 in the second game of the doubleheader
Game two on Friday ended with the same scoreline as the first, but with a bit more drama. Michigan State (13-17, 1-4 BIG) lost to Indiana (12-21, 5-0 BIG) 3-2 as the Spartans seventh inning rally fell just short.
“I think we really were in the process the entire time and competed really well. A couple of things did not go our way, but I thought we fought really hard through it,” said Rainey.
It did not take long for Michigan State to get on the board in the second game as Foerster led off the bottom of the first with a solo home run to center field.
Much like the first game, scoring was at a premium early on. Michigan State had a chance in the third inning to extend their lead with runners at second and third. However, Carrasco was unable to score either runners.
Indiana jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the top of the fifth. A Michigan State error gave Indiana runners on second and third with none out. Blitz drove in one run with a single to left and Westmoreland cleared the bases with a single of her own after Blitz stole second.
“Small ball is nothing we haven’t faced before and it’s just something that we are gonna have to continue to work on for tomorrow,” said Rainey.
In the bottom of the fifth, Michigan State had a golden opportunity with the bases loaded and two outs. However, pinch-hitter Laney Joyner struck out, continuing the trend for MSU of leaving runners stranded.
Rainey settled down in the top of the sixth. She only allowed one walk and no runs, keeping the score at 3-1 and within reach for Michigan State with only two innings left.
“I think if we continue to keep their hitters off balance and continue to stick with our team process I think that we are going to be just fine,” said Rainey.
A leadoff single from McKenzie Long in the top of the sixth gave the Spartans hope and forced a pitching change from Indiana. Left-handed-pitcher Josie Wood replaced starting pitcher Emily Goodin, who had given up six hits and only one run for Indiana.
The pitching change did not cost the Hoosiers, even though Michigan State added another baserunner, Wood was able to get out of the inning unscathed.
After Rainey threw a clean top of the sixth, the top of Michigan State’s order would face Wood down 3-1 in the bottom of the seventh. Foerster delivered with another line shot solo homerun to center field and Ebonee Echols followed that up with a single to left.
“Last week I didn’t get pitched to a lot, they decided to walk me a lot. But today they threw me a lot more strikes, and I was just taking advantage of the good pitches that I got,” said Foerster.
Goodin re-entered the game to face Carrasco with one out after Wood struck out the previous batter Kaitlyn Eveland for the first out of the inning. Carrasco came close to ending the game with one swing, but she pulled the ball just foul down the left field line. However, Goodin struck out Carrasco and Long grounded out to second to end the second game with the same result as the first, 3-2.
“I think it is really important that tomorrow we do not press,” said Foerster. “I think that you can start to do that after two losses because you really want to end on a high note. So we just have to stay stuck in our process and stay true to what we are as a Spartan offence and defense. And I think if we come together as a team offensively as a team and start stringing some hits together it will have a positive outcome.”
It was a disappointing end to day where senior Rainey was honored, but she did not let either losses ruin what has been a memorable four years.
“It has been such an awesome journey here at Michigan State. I just can’t get over how amazing its been and how much I’ve learned and grown being a Spartan,” said Rainey. “I just think that every single day I get to be on this field is a blessing, and I think that’s just a memory itself.”
Michigan State will play the final game of their three-game series against Indiana tomorrow in East Lansing at 1 p.m.