Spartans Clipped By Hawkeyes Saturday
MSU edged late by Iowa, despite Vradenburg HR, Mayes going 3-for-4
IOWA CITY, Iowa. (WILX) - Michigan State baseball was edged by Iowa Saturday afternoon, tying it at 5-all in the seventh, only to have the Hawkeyes pull away, and the Spartans’ late rally came up short, falling by an 8-6 final score at Iowa’s Duane Banks Field.
Saturday’s start time was moved up from 3:05 p.m. ET / 2:05 p.m. CT first pitch to a 12:05 p.m. ET / 11:05 a.m. CT start time, due to inclement weather in the forecast for Saturday afternoon. The game was played in cloudy, humid conditions, before the inclement weather hit the Iowa City area in the fifth inning, forcing nearly an hour-and-a-half weather delay with thunder, lightning and rain.
After being down 3-1 after three frames, the Spartans came back and junior infielder Brock Vradenburg belted a two-run home run in the seventh inning off the scoreboard in left field to knot the score at 5-5. However, Iowa plated three runs in the eighth for an 8-5 lead. MSU rallied in the ninth, scoring one run but the rally came up short with the tying run at the plate.
MSU slid to 29-18 overall and evened its Big Ten Conference record at 10-10 with the loss, dropping its third B1G series after winning four of the previous league series. Iowa improved to 36-12 overall and 12-7 in B1G play. The Hawkeyes have won five of their last six and 11 of their last 13.
Vradenburg’s blast in the seventh inning was his team-leading 13th of the season, moving up to tie for No. 8 on MSU’s single-season home runs list. The 13 home runs is the most by a Spartan since Ryan Krill also had 13 in 2015.
Along with moving up on MSU’s home run list, Vradenburg also knocked a double, his 20th of the season, to take over sole possession of the No. 4 spot on the Spartans single-season doubles list, and the most since 2014 when Blaise Salter tied the school-record with 22 two-baggers.
Vradenburg finished 2-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored, while senior outfielder Casey Mayes was 3-for-4 with an RBI, as the two Spartans with multiple hits, as MSU knocked out 10 hits. Saturday’s 10 hits was the Spartans 29th game with double-figure hits in 47 games, bouncing back in the hits column from Friday night, when MSU’s bats were stymied without a hit until the seventh inning, finishing with three hits.
Five other Spartans posted one hit Saturday, with junior infielders Trent Farquhar and Mitch Jebb both logging 1-for-4 marks, with Farquhar scoring two runs, while Jebb drove in one run and also drew a walk. Junior outfielder Jack Frank, redshirt-sophomore designated hitter Sam Busch and sophomore catcher Bryan Broecker were also all 1-for-4, with Frank driving in one run and scoring another, while Broecker scored once. Farquhar and Frank each swiped one stolen base each.
Frank now has 17 stolen bases this season, as well as 31 career swipes, taking over sole possession of No. 12 on MSU’s career stolen base list.
Freshman starting pitcher Nolan Higgins went 4.2 IP with four hits, four runs, two walks and five strikeouts, one shy of his season-best and his fifth outing with four or more Ks. Senior reliever Andrew Carson threw the final 3.1 IP, firing a season-high and career-high tying five strikeouts.
After being shutout and held without a hit through six stanzas Friday, MSU bolted out of the gates Saturday, getting a double by Farquhar on the first pitch of the game. Jebb followed by knocking an RBI single through the right side to drive Farquhar in for the early 1-0 advantage.
Iowa leveled it at 1-1 in the home half of the second on an RBI double, before taking a 3-1 lead in the third on a pair of home runs sandwiched around a flyout.
The Spartans closed the gap to 3-2 in the top of the fourth, as Frank sparked the rally by getting hit by a pitch, and Broecker followed by doing the same and also getting hit. Two batters later, Kark walked to fill the bases full of Spartans and bringing Mayes to bat. Mayes laced a single to right, bringing Frank in to score, while Broecker was thrown out at home trying to score, leaving the visiting Spartans down 3-2.
Iowa regained a two-run gap in the bottom of the fifth, scoring on a sacrifice fly, for a 4-2 lead with two outs, before the weather delay started at 12:35 p.m. CT.
When play resumed at 1:50 p.m. CT / 2:50 p.m. ET, Carson took over on the mound and rang up a strikeout to end the fifth frame.
The Spartans threatened in the visitor’s sixth stanza, as Broecker and Busch had back-to-back singles, with Busch’s moving Broecker to third. Junior infielder Dillon Kark followed by hitting into a double play, but it drove in Broecker, pulling MSU within 4-3. However, the Hawkeyes added run in the home half of the sixth, to regain a two-run cushion at 5-3.
Facing former Spartan reliever and current Hawkeye reliever to open the seventh, Farquhar was hit by a pitch, before Jebb was robbed of a hit by Iowa shortstop Michael Seegers on a leaping snag. Farquhar later stole second and Vradenburg belted his homer off the top of the scoreboard at Banks Field to tie it up at 5s.
However, Iowa pulled away with a three-run eighth inning, with an RBI single and a two-run home run for an 8-5 advantage.
The Spartans didn’t go quietly into the cloudy, humid afternoon, as Vradenburg laced an opposite-field double down the left field line, and Frank followed with a Texas Leaguer single to left to drive Vradenburg in, but a strikeout and flyout ended the MSU rally and the game.
Michigan State and Iowa are currently scheduled to play Sunday’s series finale slated for a 2:05 p.m. ET / 1:05 p.m. CT start time.
The Spartans then host its final non-conference contest, welcoming Central Michigan to East Lansing and McLane Stadium at Kobs File on Tuesday, May 16, before the regular-season finale, hosting Indiana, Thursday-Saturday, May 18-20. MSU’s Senior Day is Saturday, May 20.
Michigan State’s schedule is subject to change, stay tuned to MSUSpartans.com and @MSUBaseball on Twitter for schedule updates.
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