Michigan State baseball gets first shutout in over two years, blanks Niagara 9-0

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Peyton Skiver

EAST LANSING — Niagara walked into McLane Stadium Friday night carrying an eight-game win streak. Michigan State decidedly handed the Purple Eagles their largest margin of defeat this season, 9-0.

“I thought we played very well…” MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. said. “A lot of positives today.”

This game ends a 119-game streak that spanned over two calendar years where MSU surrendered at least one run. It’s been long enough that the last team the Spartans shut out, Houston Baptist, has since changed its name to Houston Christian.

“I know these guys are excited about it because when we shut somebody out, the pitchers get to take batting practice,” Boss said.

MSU sophomore Joseph Dzierwa deserves much of the credit for ending the Spartans’ shutout drought. He gave MSU’s bullpen a lot of rest, handing in seven innings, striking out nine, and allowing just five hits, all singles.

The closest the Purple Eagles got to scoring was when they loaded the bases with nobody out in the sixth. Lineout, strikeout, groundout, inning over.

Graduate Aaron Mishoulam and freshman Garrett Brewer each threw one scoreless inning out of the bullpen to keep Niagara off the board for good.

The Spartans (13-14, 3-3 Big Ten) held Niagara’s (18-8, 6-0 MAAC) Eric Rataczak and Nick Monile, who both entered Friday in the top 15 nationally for batting average, to a combined 1-for-8 at the plate. Rataczak and Monile entered Friday with averages of .446 and .438, respectively.

“It’s huge,” said Boss, who noted the stat is a testament to Dzierwa’s performance.

MSU’s Landen Lozier, who entered the contest a .382 hitter, had no such problem against Niagara pitching. The freshman drove in a career-high four runs as the leadoff man. Five of his nine RBIs have come in his last two outings, with 17 total appearances with at least one recorded at-bat this year.

“I can’t get RBIs without my teammates on base,” Lozier said. “Without them getting on base for me and putting me in good spots to hit, that wouldn’t be possible.”

Peyton Skiver

The Spartans got their first two runs of the night in the fourth inning after back-to-back hit-by pitches with the bases loaded. Lozier was one of those batters, and he received an RBI.

Lozier plated another run with an RBI single in the fifth and got his third and fourth RBIs with another single in the seventh for runs eight and nine.

Niagara assisted the effort with two HBPs, allowing two more runs to score on a wild pitch in the fifth and eight total walks, but eleven total hits are nothing to scoff at. Seven of MSU’s starters recorded a hit. Senior Dillon Kark and juniors Christian Williams and Nick Williams each had multi-hit games along with Lozier. Kark and Nick Williams both recorded an RBI as well.

“Offensively, you put up a big number, it’s always fun,” Boss said.

The win marks three consecutive victories for the Spartans (the Crosstown Showdown against the Lansing Lugnuts is an exhibition game), who can get back to .500 with a win on Saturday after beginning the year 1-5. They will play a third game against Niagara on Sunday and remain in East Lansing to take on Central Michigan on Tuesday.

“These last three games have been really good for us,” Lozier said. “Everything just kind of feels like it’s slowly falling into place right now.”

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