Michigan State baseball struggles in return home, falls to Oakland 11-7

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Gina Guy

EAST LANSING — Following four straight games on the road, the Michigan State baseball team returned to McLane Stadium to face the 9-14 Oakland Golden Grizzlies. The 10-12 Spartans aimed to win their second game in as many days following a 16-6 rout of rival Michigan on Tuesday.

Howell native Gannon Grundman was called upon for MSU in his first-ever collegiate start. Despite racking up two strikeouts, the freshman southpaw struggled in his inaugural nod. Grundman allowed six hits and five earned runs in just one and one-third innings, before being replaced in favor of Harrison Cook.

A two-run double from catcher Noah Bright cut into the Golden Grizzlies’ lead in the bottom of the second, as the Spartans regained momentum after a slow start.

In the top of the fourth inning, Oakland extended its lead to 6-2, but the Spartans did not let up. Bright’s masterful performance at the plate continued with a spectacular solo shot to left-center for the Macomb native’s third home run of the young season.

“(Noah) swung the bat very well today,” MSU head coach Jake Boss said. “He’s got some power and he’s got a handful of home runs. We don’t have a whole lot of power, so anybody that gives us a chance to leave the yard certainly helps. He and Sam Thompson are both swinging the bat very well, so both give us some juice at the bottom of the order which we need.”

With runners at the corners and no outs for Michigan State, the Spartans roared their way back into it. RBIs from senior outfielder Jack Frank and freshman infielder Ryan McKay, on top of an Oakland balk, tied the game at six after four frames.

In relief of Grundman, Cook put on a strong showing, giving up one run in two and two-third innings before Gavin Moczydlowksi replaced him. The senior righthander struck out three, walked two, and gave up two hits in his stint of relief. Moczydlowski dazzled in relief, racking up five punchouts in his two and two-third innings, only allowing two hits with one run earned.

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After Moczydlowski was replaced by sophomore Nolan Higgins to open the seventh, Oakland quickly regained the lead. Brandon Nigh drew a walk, followed by second baseman Lucas Day knocking a two-run double to give the Golden Grizzlies an 8-6 lead, ending Higgins’ day before recording an out.

The Golden Grizzlies’ bats stayed hot as the game came to a close. In the eighth inning, Oakland strung together back-to-back base hits courtesy of Reggie Bussey and Trent Rice, to put the visiting Grizzlies up 10-6.

Michigan State ultimately fell to Oakland, 11-7, as Oakland’s 16 hits and 34 baserunners proved too much for the Spartans to handle.

“Our guys competed, we got down early and we did a nice job of fighting back, getting ourselves back into the ballgame, and giving ourselves a chance,” Boss said. “When you walk guys, when you hit guys, when you can’t put away guys in big spots late in the ballgame it’s hard to win.”

Michigan State fell to 10-13 on the season before Rutgers (18-7) travels to East Lansing for a three-game weekend series at McLane Stadium.

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