Michigan State baseball suffered a 5-4 walk-off loss at Fresno State Friday night at Fresno State’s Pete Beiden Field at Bob Bennett Stadium in the 2018 season-opener.
The loss spoiled a 12-strikeout outing by junior pitcher Riley McCauley in his first-ever start and a two-run home run by senior designated hitter Chad Roskelly in the top of the eighth that gave MSU a 4-3 lead, capping a 4-run frame.
Michigan State is its first-ever regular-season visit to Fresno State this weekend, previously only playing the Bulldogs in the 2012 NCAA Tournament in a regional in Palo Alto, Calif., and playing last season in a three-game series originally scheduled for the Spartans’ home field of McLane Stadium at Kobs Field, but due to wet field conditions, the series was moved to Grand Rapids.
After making 25 relief appearances last season, McCauley made the first start of his career and went 6.0 complete, allowing just one run on two hits, walking two and firing a career-high 12 strikeouts. McCauley becomes the first MSU pitcher with 12+ Ks since Cam Vieaux chalked up 13 vs. UConn, March 15, 2015.
Roskelly blasted a two-run home run to left field in the eighth inning, capping a four-run frame for the Spartans, as sophomore outfielder Danny Gleaves drove in the visitors’ first run of the game with a double to right center, plating sophomore Justin Antoncic, who lead off with a pinch hit walk.
Along with Roskelly and Gleaves with one hit apiece, sophomore left fielder Bryce Kelley, junior right fielder Robbie Jones and senior first baseman Zack McGuire had hits for the Spartans.
Fresno State got on the board first with a run in the third, with an RBI double down the left field line by leadoff hitter Zach Ashford.
After that, McCauley settled in, getting out of a 1st-and-3rd jam with two outs with a strikeout in the fourth. The next inning, McCauley sandwiched a pair of K’s around a single and a SAC bunt. McCauley struck out the side in the sixth, ending his night.
Sophomore right-hander Caleb Sleeman relieved McCauley in the seventh and picked up right where the Spartan starter left off with two strikeouts in the top of the seventh, capping a streak of six-straight outs via a strikeout for the McCauley-Sleeman combo. However, FS rallied with a hit, an error and a HBP to load the bases, then a 2-out, 2-run double by Carter Bins put the home Bulldogs up 3-0.
The Spartans rallied in the eighth, as Antoncic led off with his pinch-hit walk. Kelley followed with a single through the left side, then Gleaves laced his double to right center, plating Antoncic. Sophomore second baseman Bailey Peterson then walked, before junior third baseman Marty Bechina grounded into a double play, scoring Kelley. Next up, Roskelly belted a two-run shot to left for his ninth career round-tripper, capping MSU’s four-run frame and giving the Spartans a 4-3 lead.
Fresno State plated a run in the bottom of the eighth off new Spartan reliever Evan Flohr, on a bases-loaded infield single, before the ninth inning dramatics to win the game.
The Spartans and Bulldogs continue their three-day, four-game series with a doubleheader on Saturday starting at 5:05 p.m. ET, before concluding the series on Sunday in a 1:30 p.m. ET start.