Being on the road hasn’t been too kind for the Spartans baseball team so far this season. Michigan State were hoping to turn things around with their road trip against Penn State College, but MSU left Happy Valley on Sunday disappointed. The Spartans have now lost seven-straight Big Ten road games.
The Nittany Lions beat Michigan State in the third and final game of the weekend series, 5-3, Sunday afternoon at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
Following Saturday’s 27-run onslaught, the Nittany Lions won this game in more traditional fashion, a nice balance of pitching and smart base running led PSU to their win.
Penn State took an early 1-0 lead, but the Spartans rallied with a three-run fifth inning for a 3-1 lead, the Lions came back with two runs in the bottom of fifth and one in the sixth, and added an insurance run in the eighth for the final box score. The Spartans had nine hits and drew four walks, but left 11 runners on bases and couldn’t get them across the diamond.
Michigan State slid to 12-20 on the 2021 season, while the Nittany Lions up their record to 12-18 with the win, taking the five-game season series against the Spartans, after splitting the two-game series in East Lansing on April 9, and sweeping the three-game weekend series at Medlar field this weekend.
“That was a tough one to lose, and it’s going to be a long bus ride home after getting swept,” MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. said. “I thought we played well enough to win two games out of three and we come home without any wins, so it’s very disappointing.”
Spartan outfielder Jack Frank tied a career-high with a season-best three hits, matching his MSU debut in the 2020 season-opener on Feb. 14, 2020 in the 15-game shortened season. Frank finished the game on Sunday going 3-for-5, and a swipe.
Freshman infielder Trent Farquhar was 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored, while freshman infielder Dillion Kark was 2-for-4. Sophomore outfielder Zaid Walker was 1-for-3 and scored a run, while freshman infielder Mitch Jebb was 1-for-4. Sophomore infielder Reese Trahey and catcher Adam Proctor each crossed the plate.
On the hill, MSU starter Sam Benshoter went 5.2 IP, scattering seven hits and four runs, giving up two walks, while striking out six. The six K’s gives Benschoter 23 strikeouts in 15.0 IP his last two outings after his B1G Co-Pitcher of the Week earning performance last Sunday, April 25 vs. Nebraska with 17 K’s in 9.1 IP of relief.
Redshirt-freshman William Christophersen came on in relief, giving up three hits, one run, one walk, and a K in 2.1 IP.
MSU threatened to score in the sixth and seventh innings, getting two runners on each inning, but were unable to capitalize.
In the ninth, the Spartans again rallied with two runners on, but the rally stalled to end the game.
The win completes a three-game sweep for Rob Cooper’s team, which is the first time the team has swept a series all season.
Right-hander Kyle Virbitsky took the mound for the Lions to start the game and worked around a two-out walk to pitch a scoreless frame. After Gavin Homer and Matt Wood each singled, Johnny Piacentino lined a double to deep center to bring Homer around to score. Virbitsky settled down and got command of his pitches which was enough to hold off the Spartans.
Penn State will be on the road next week for a three-game series against the Hawkeyes in Iowa City. The first game is set for 7:05 p.m. on Friday, May 7.