Boss Jr. hits 300 wins as Spartans end slide

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State’s (7-17; 1-3) series finale against Rutgers (13-10; 2-2) came on Sunday afternoon. A series that featured multiple schedule changes and a doubleheader ended with the Spartans winning the final game and avoiding a sweep. With the win, head coach Jake Boss Jr. won his long-awaited 300th career game at MSU.

MSU starting pitcher Mason Erla rebounded nicely from his five-run, 10-hit start against Michigan last weekend. He pitched seven scoreless, four-hit innings, continuing his stellar first year in collegiate action. He struck out six – three off his season high of nine, which came against Niagara.

Erla said after the win, “Obviously last year didn’t get to throw because of the shoulder injury, so really proud of myself how I’ve competed this year on the mound. Give our team an opportunity to win. Later in the games, with obviously with the injury I tend to get a little tight, but I just keep plugging along out there and doing what I’m doing.”

“Mason Erla was lights out today,” Boss Jr. said. “Defensively, I thought we played very well.”

Scarlet Knight freshman starter Eric Hatter came into the finale leading the staff in ERA and allowing the least number of baserunners. He allowed five runs on seven hits, striking out three in 4 2/3 innings. He picked up his second loss on the year.

The Spartan offense broke through in the bottom of the fourth on a Zack McGuire double to straightaway center scoring Chad Roskelly, who reached on a walk. Freshman shortstop Ryan King advanced McGuire to third on a bunt a batter later. Catcher Nic Lacayo followed with a double to right field scoring McGuire. Danny Gleaves drove in the final run of the inning on a bunt single, and the Spartans jumped ahead 3-0.

MSU added two more runs in the fifth. Roskelly lined a pitch into right field, which Rutgers fielder Luke Bowerbank misplayed. Roskelly pulled into third with a triple, scoring Justin Antoncic. King followed with a single into left to score Roskelly and extend the lead, 5-0.

Kory Young tallied his first hit of the year and came around to score MSU’s final run on a fielder’s choice by Roskelly in the seventh.

Mitchell Tyranski and Jake Lowery relieved Erla and combined for one hit and a strikeout over the final two innings.

MSU defense extended their error streak to seven games. The streak dates to the beginning of the Michigan series on Friday, March 23.

Gleaves stole a base, pushing his total to 11 stolen bases on the season. He also had his second multi-hit game of the year, going 2-2.

“Nobody likes to go through that,” Boss Jr. said of MSU’s losing streak. “It had been a couple weeks. It’s never fun to have a losing streak like that. I don’t think we’ve had one since we’ve been here like that. As frustrating as it is, I know it’s frustrating for our guys too. It’s good that it is because it means something to them. I think it is a bit of a relief. Kind of lets everybody take a deep breath.”

Boss Jr. is one of five head coaches to reach 300 wins at Michigan State.

“To be the head baseball coach at Michigan State, for me – growing up here, coming to watch games here since I was a kid,” Boss Jr. said. I saw Kirk Gibson play here and all these guys, honestly, it is a dream come true for me to be able to put the uniform on.”

MSU jumps back to action on Wednesday, April 4 against Eastern Michigan – one of two games they’ll play against each other this season, with the second coming at Comerica Park. First pitch is at 3:05 p.m. EST at McLane Stadium.