‘Loss on Boss’ as MSU drops second straight to Wolverines

EAST LANSING, Mich. — On Saturday, Michigan State baseball faced a lefty for the second consecutive game. This time, Michigan sent freshman Ben Dragani to the mound. MSU leaned on its senior righty Ethan Landon. The starters dueled for most of the game, stranding a total of 10 runners and pitching out of every threatening situation up until the seventh. Late inning offense and defensive miscues for the Spartans led to a Wolverine come-from-behind 3-1 win.

Coming into the series, MSU starter Ethan Landon ranked tied for fourth in the B1G in strikeouts, with 31. He’d pad nine onto his total and finished with four hits and three walks over eight impressive innings. Already with 40 punch-outs, Landon is on pace to obliterate his totals from previous years.

“Ethan competed his tail off,” MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. said. “He deserved better.”

Only four runs were scored in the contest, but opportunities were wasted nearly every inning, as the two teams finished a combined 0 for 17 with runners in scoring position.

“It’s very frustrating,” Boss Jr. said of the offensive struggles. “It’s frustrating for everybody. We need to try to simplify some things, we need to try to take some of the pressure off of ourselves, and just break the game down one pitch at a time.”

Dragani exited the game in the seventh. He gave up a leadoff single to Chad Roskelly, who was pinch ran for by Danny Gleaves. Gleaves advanced to third after a balk and sac-fly. William Tribucher was called on by Wolverines head coach Erik Bakich to relieve Dragani. On the first Tribucher offering, Bryce Kelley placed a suicide squeeze bunt a few feet out in front of the plate. Brock Keener fielded the bunt but couldn’t tag a sliding Gleaves at home before he scored. MSU scored the game’s first run in the seventh, 1-0.

MSU spotted Landon one run heading into the eighth, which seemed to be all he and the Spartans needed. Then, the lead was revoked in the ninth, when two Wolverines reached to start the frame. Landon was pulled for Mitchell Tyranski, who allowed an inherited runner to score on an error by Bailey Peterson. Marty Bechina came in to field a sac bunt, but the throw sailed slightly up the baseline, which Peterson couldn’t corral.

With runners on second and third with one out, Miles Lewis laid a suicide squeeze, which Tyranski recovered. As Tyranski threw to first for the out, Jonathan Engelmann scored and Blake Nelson followed, catching the MSU defense off guard and giving the Wolverines their first lead, 3-1.

In the bottom of the ninth, Gleaves led off with a single. Peterson would strike out, Kelley grounded out and Dan Chmielewski popped out to end the game.

“That one’s on me,” Boss Jr. said of the loss. “I will take full responsibility for that. It’s my job to put guys in position to be successful, and I think I made some decisions today that didn’t allow that to happen.”

The series finale is at Ray Fisher Stadium in Ann Arbor on Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. EST. The Spartans will call on Mason Erla; the Wolverines’ starter has yet to be announced.

Final line:

WP – William Tribucher (2-2; 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 K)

LP – Ethan Landon (0-4; 8 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 9 K)