Spartan bats stay cold against Western Michigan

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State baseball was downed by the Western Michigan Broncos, 6-1, on Wednesday afternoon at McLane Baseball Stadium. Head Coach Jake Boss will continue to have to wait for his 300th win just a little bit longer, as the Spartans dropped another game due to “sloppy play” according to Boss.

“We need to play cleaner baseball,” Boss said after the game. “We were pretty sloppy today, you know, both on the mound and defensively.”

For the Spartans, their losing streak stretches to six dating back to their series against Niagara.

“This certainly isn’t how we planned it,” Boss said. “At the same time, there’s a long way to go in our season.”

On the mound for the Spartans was senior Andrew Gonzalez, who turned in five no-hit innings in his last start, though he struggled with command, walking seven batters.

The Spartans’ bats got going early in the first inning as Dan Chmielewski reached base on a two-out single then swiped second base to advance into scoring position. Next, the cleanup hitter Chad Roskelly lined one into the gap in right-center field to score Chmielewski from second, to give the Spartans the lead in the early innings.

The Broncos rallied right back in the top half of the second inning, leading off with a single to the right side. Two batters later with a runner on first, Broncos’ first baseman Ethan Hajdukovic singled to right field to advance the runner from first to third. The Broncos would tie up the game at one run apiece after a single through the left side of the infield would score the runner from third base.

Gonzalez’s control problems resurfaced in the second inning. With two runners already on base, Gonzalez would walk back-to-back batters to score the Broncos’ second run of the game. With the bases still loaded, Gonzalez then threw a pitch in the dirt that got passed the catcher Will Salter to score another run, making it 3-1 in favor of the Broncos.

Gonzalez would then walk another batter to reload the bases. Two batters later, a double by Western Michigan left fielder Nate Grys would clear the bases, driving up the Broncos’ lead to five runs in the early stage of the game.

Gonzalez would not survive the second inning, ending the day with four hits and six runs while walking three batters and striking out one over 1.2 innings pitched.

“He got behind in the count.” Boss said. “He threw strikes for the most part, but when you get behind in the count, it really simplifies the game for the offense.”

Not much was was brewing for either teams in the middle innings. Lefty Jesse Heikkinen, who took over for Gonzalez on the mound in the second inning, recorded 4.1 scoreless frames to settle down the Bronco bats.

Fastforwarding to the bottom of seventh inning, the Spartans were gifted a pair of bas runners after Marty Bechina was hit by the pitch and Bryce Kelley drew a walk. However, the Spartans would then go down in order to retire the side, still trailing by five runs.   

The Spartans would go on to lose by that score, 6-1. The Spartans compiled just as many hits as the Broncos (seven), yet the day ended with the Spartans picking up their 17th loss of the season.

“We need to be better offensively,” Boss said. “We need to have better approaches, more consistent approaches, and then when we get an opportunity to get our swing off, we’ve got to get our swing off.”

Although the Spartans are in quite the rough patch right now, Boss is still confident his group of guys can turn it around.

“The effort in practice is very good,” Boss said. “It’s a great group of kids, and their frustrated like all of us are. We’ve got 21 conference games to go, and we’ve got an opportunity to get some momentum this weekend.”

Final Line:

WP- Chris Modrzynski (5 IP, 1 R, 6 H, 1 K, 0 BB)

LP- Andrew Gonzalez (1.2 IP, 6 R, 4 H, 1 K, 3 BB)

The Spartans will return to action on Friday afternoon as they kick off a three-game series against Rutgers. First pitch is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. E.T. at McLane Baseball Stadium.