Harvard could never quite figure out Michigan State sophomore starter Justin Alleman, who tossed eight innings of four-hit ball. The Crimson loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the fourth, but the runners were stranded after Alleman forced a foul pop up.
That would prove to be the last scoring opportunity for Harvard, as the team recorded just one hit in the final five innings of play.
The Spartans got on the board in the first frame against freshman pitcher Nick Gruener. A double from cleanup hitter Ryan Krill plated two runs. Gruener would eventually settle in, at one point retiring 11 straight batters, but the freshman was replaced after allowing a two-run triple in the bottom of the sixth.
Michigan State finished with just six hits in the game, but they came at opportune times–the second through fifth spots in the lineup were responsible for all of the knocks.
MICHIGAN STATE 1, HARVARD 0
In a classic pitcher’s duel, all that separated the two squads in game one of the series was a single run.
The decisive inning came in the bottom of the fifth, when Michigan State senior Joel Fisher led off with a double against Crimson sophomore starter Sean Poppen. A bunt moved Fisher to third, and a sacrifice fly one batter later brought home what would prove to be the winning run.
Poppen finished with a clean line despite taking the loss, as he surrendered just four hits while striking out six—three of which came in the fourth inning. The sophomore has an earned run average of 2.00 and has completed six innings in each of his three starts.
An efficient pitching performance from the Spartans made it difficult for the Harvard bats to get going. Despite only striking out five times, baserunners were hard to come by for the Crimson as two Michigan State hurlers combined to allow just three hits.
For Harvard, the biggest scoring opportunity came in the top of the fourth. A Kregel double coupled with a fielder’s choice and an error loaded the bases with two outs, but Spartan junior pitcher Mick VanVossen induced a fly ball to right field that ended the threat.
—Staff writer David Steinbach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.