SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Michigan State baseball rallied from a 2-0 deficit with a run in the sixth and two in the seventh to knock off Notre Dame, 3-2, Tuesday evening at Notre Dame’s Frank Eck Stadium. MSU has now won four of its last six games.
The 3-2 win was the fourth-straight 1-run game in the Michigan State and Notre Dame series, as ND had won the previous three. MSU has now beaten Notre Dame 17 of last 22 meetings and leads the all-time series, 80-57.
Tuesday was also MSU’s fourth-straight game against a team from Indiana, after the Spartans won a three-game series hosting Indiana State over the weekend, two games to one.
Freshman outfielder Zaid Walker was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored, junior infielder Justin Antoncic was also 2-for-4 and sophomore designated hitter Adam Proctor was 1-for-3 with a towering home run to right in the Spartan sixth.
“I’m proud of our guys. Their starter was really good, he did a nice job against us. Fortunately for us, we got the big home run that kind of got us going a little bit, and took advantage of a miscue on their part, but that’s part of the game. Zaid was aggressive on a dirt-ball read and forced those guys to make a play and fortunately for us, the ball ended up squirting into left field and he was able to score what ended up being the game-winner,” MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. said. “I’m proud of our guys for competing against a good ball club. We probably didn’t play the cleanest defensively, but we made pitches when we needed to and made some plays when we needed to, and the bullpen was really, really good for us. I’m just really proud of our guys.”
Junior outfielder Bryce Kelley and senior infielder Royce Ando were both 1-for-3. Kelley swiped two bases in the game, giving him seven stolen bases in the last six games and now has 59 in his career, just two away from the No. 3 spot on MSU’s career stolen base list.
On the mound, junior left-hander Jarret Olson started and went a season-high 5.0 IP, tying a season-best with four strikeouts. Senior reliever Evan Flohr took over in the sixth and went 3.0 IP with four Ks, yielding only one hit, and earned the win, moving to 2-0 on the year. Junior reliever Indigo Diaz struck out the side in the ninth to earn his third save.
“Evan’s been really good for us. The question was how long would we extend him today. He kind of went through a quick first inning out there, so we gave him another one and he breezed through the second one, and that got him the third inning for us. He gave up one hit, struck out four in three innings and didn’t walk anybody. Indigo comes in and strikes out the side in the ninth. You can’t say enough about the bullpen with the way those guys have pitched, not only today but last week and weekend as well. We’re going to need that effort out of those guys on the mound moving forward, but if we can pitch like that, I like our chances.”
Olson got in a jam with a one-out hit and error, putting runners at second and third, but pitched himself out of it with back-to-back strikeouts.
The Irish got on the board in the bottom of the third, taking advantage of an MSU error off the bat of Spencer Myers, who then stole second. After a walk, then a sac bunt, Myers scored on a groundout RBI for a 1-0 Notre Dame advantage.
Michigan State threatened in the fifth with Antoncic lacing a one-out single up the middle. Walker later followed with a single to right to move Antoncic up to third, but a strikeout ended the threat.
Notre Dame countered with a run in the bottom of the fifth on a solo home run by Niko Kavadas for a 2-0 lead.
The Spartans got a run back in the top of the sixth with a towering home run to right field by pinch-hitter Proctor, closing to 2-1.
Michigan State put together a two-out rally in the seventh. Senior catcher Nic Lacayo led off by getting hit by a pitch and moved to second on a passed ball. After a pair of fly outs, the second coming on Notre Dame center fielder Myers robbing freshman outfielder Casey Mayes of an extra base hit, Walker roped a double down the left field line. Walker later came in to score after he took third on a wild pitch and scored on a Notre Dame error on the play, and the Spartans had a 3-2 lead.
Flohr retired the Irish in three-up, three-down fashion in the bottom of the seventh.
MSU threatened in the top of the eighth, after singles by Ando and Antoncic, to chase ND reliever Andrew Belcik. Reliever Joe Boyle came on and walked Mayes, but a groundout ended the Spartan rally.
Just like the seventh, Flohr retired the Irish in order, chalking up a pair of strikeouts after a flyout to lead off the inning.
In the top of the ninth, junior outfielder Bryce Kelley drew a one-out walk and tried to steal second. Kelley was initially called out, but Boss challenged the call and the umpires reviewed the play and overturned the call, ruling him safe. Kelley later stole third, but the rally fizzled.
Diaz denied Notre Dame any chance of a rally by striking out the side. It was the third game in a span of the week that Diaz ended the game with a strikeout to secure the victory for MSU, also doing so last Tuesday against Western Michigan at Comerica Park in Detroit, then again on Sunday versus Indiana State.
MSU resumes Big Ten Conference action next weekend, traveling to Piscataway, N.J. for a three-game weekend series at Rutgers, Friday-Sunday, April 12-14. The Spartans return home to host in-state foe Eastern Michigan on April 17.
Fans can also follow Spartan baseball action through “Live Stats,” “Listen Live” and “Watch Live” links found at MSUSpartans.com. The games will be video streamed on BTN2Go, and will also be carried on the Spartan Sports Network live audio stream. The broadcast will be available exclusively at SpartanSportsNetwork.com and on the network’s 24/7 app for mobile devices (available on iTunes and Google Play). Broadcast veteran Scott Moore calls the action alongside former MSU manager/bullpen catcher David Greenberg in select games.
Any schedule updates will be announced on www.MSUSpartans.comand on twitter @statebaseball.
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