After giving up three grand slams in each of the first three innings, the Michigan State Spartans could not recover on Friday, as the Spartans suffered a devastating 14-2 defeat at the hands of the Northwestern Wildcats in Greenville, SC.
The game started out well for the Spartans, as once again they scored a run in the first inning off an error by Wildcats’ shortstop Shawn Goosenberg, who sailed a ground ball over the first baseman’s head, allowing shortstop Mitch Jebb to score for the Spartans and give them an early 1-0 lead.
That early lead would be short-lived as Spartans’ starting pitcher Sam Benschoter, who was coming off a fantastic outing last week against Maryland, walked the bases loaded in the first inning before Mason Bianchina drilled a ball over the fence in right for a grand slam, giving the Wildcats a 4-1 lead after the first inning. Little did the Spartans know it was only the beginning to a rough night.
As if once wasn’t enough, the Wildcats turned around and did it again in the second inning. Benschoter started off the inning giving up a walk and a single before hitting a batter to load the bases. Stephen Hrsutich then launched a ball to right-center for yet another grand slam, giving the Wildcats an 8-1 lead before it even felt like you could take a breath. Benschoter then balked in another run in the inning, and the Wildcats left the inning with a 9-1 lead.
After another quick 1-2-3 inning by the Spartans offense, the Wildcats came up to the plate in third looking to tack onto their commanding lead. The Wildcats led off the inning with back-to-back singles followed by a Benschoter hit batter to load the bases. And then, just like a bad dream the Spartans couldn’t escape, Michael Trautwein hit a ball over the fence in right field for the Wildcats’ third grand slam in three innings and a 13-1 lead.
Benschoter came into Friday night having pitched eight shutout innings against Maryland last weekend and there was optimism that he was going to be able to give a similar effort on Friday. But that was simply not the case as Benschoter was chased after just three innings, giving up 13 earned runs on eight hits, five walks and only two strikeouts.
Wildcats’ starting pitcher Mike Doherty dominated the Spartans after a shaky first inning. He finished with an impressive line of eight-and-a-third innings pitched, two earned runs, seven hits, two walks and five strikeouts.
The only other runs in the game came on a Trautwein sacrifice fly in the fifth and a Doherty walk in the top of the ninth that gave the Spartans an extra run. Overall the Spartans didn’t have it on Friday on either side of the diamond, leading to a thorough beatdown. No Spartan had more than one hit in the game and it didn’t help that reigning Big Ten Player of the Week Zaid Walker struggled with an 0-of-3 night at the plate.
The Spartans now drop to 3-2 on the season and will face these same Wildcats in a double-header Saturday before wrapping up the series with a single game on Sunday.
Follow Michael Markoch on Twitter at @mcmarkoch20.