Spartan baseball continues to shine. Here is the story from our buddy Zach Fisher:
MSU Wins Home Opener In Style With 11-2 Win Over CMU Tuesday
All Nine Spartans In Batting Lineup Get At Least One Hit
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- All nine batters in the Michigan State baseball lineup got at least one hit to boost the Spartans to an 11-2 in over in-state foe Central Michigan in MSU’s 2017 home opener Tuesday at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field.
“We swung the bats really well today. I was really happy to see us swing the bat so well today, especially after not swinging it well Sunday in Richmond,” MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr., about Sunday’s 2-1 loss to Cornell in which MSU had just four hits. “It was good to get back on track offensively.”
Tuesday’s season opener was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but impending inclement weather in the forecast moved the game up a day.
Before the game, Boss was recognized for his 300th career win as a collegiate baseball head coach with a ceremonial ball from MSU athletics director Mark Hollis.
With Tuesday’s win, the Spartans are now 12-5 on the season, while the Chippewas are 8-12. MSU has won four of the last five and 13 of the last 18 games in the series with CMU, improving to 16-9 against the Chips under Boss.
Five of the nine Spartans in the batting order had multiple hits, led by sophomore first baseman Alex Troop was 3-for-4 with an RBI. Freshman left fielder Bryce Kelley was 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI. Junior center fielder Brandon Hughes was 2-for-4 with three runs scored. Senior second baseman Dan Durkin was 2-for-5 with two runs scored and sophomore third baseman Marty Bechina was 2-for-4 with two RBI and crossed the plate three times. Troop, Hughes and Durkin all had one double apiece for MSU’s three extra base hits as part of their 16 total hits on the day.
MSU used seven different pitchers Tuesday, with junior lefty Keegan Baar getting his first start of the season. Senior reliever Walter Borkovich got the win, improving to 4-0 on the season.
“We ran a lot of guys out there on the mound today, I thought the pitching was okay today, it wasn’t great, we’ve certainly pitched better,” Boss said. “Defensively we played very good, we made some key plays at key moments in the game to give us momentum and take away momentum from those guys. All in all, a good day all around.”
Central Michigan starer Zach Kohn took the loss, dropping to 0-2 on the season. At the plate, the Chips were led by Dazon Cole with 2-for-3, while Daniel Robinson was 2-for-5. CMU got on base, but the Spartans made key defensive plays, including throwing out two base runners on the base paths, to limit the Chips from scoring, as they left 13 runners on base.
In the top of the first, CMU got a one-out single from Jason Sullivan and he later advanced to second. Two batters later, Daniel Jipping singled to left and Sullivan tried to score, but Kelley fired a frozen rope one hopper to senior catcher Matt Byars who applied the tag and throw out Sullivan to end the inning the keep the Chippewas off the scoreboard.
MSU wasted little time in getting on the board, as Hughes led off the home half of the first frame with a single, and Durkin followed with a double just inside the right field line. Bechina was at bat next and Kohn’s first pitch was wild, allowing Hughes to scamper home, then Bechina later singled to left center to plate Durkin. Troop followed with a single to bump Bechina up to third, and Troop moved up to second as CMU centerfielder bobbled the ball. Junior designated hitter Zack McGuire drove in Bechina with a sacrifice fly to center for the Spartans’ third and final run of the frame.
CMU got a run back in the top of the second inning but Spartan junior starter Keegan Baar got out of a one-out bases loaded jam with a popup and ground out, limiting the damage at just a run as the Chips closed to 3-1.
Bechina started the Spartans’ rally in the third inning, drawing a one-out walk. Troop then joined him on base with another walk before McGuire singled to left to plate Bechina and put MSU ahead, 4-1.
The home team hung a three-spot on the board in the fourth, with Byars sparking the rally with a single up the middle and Kelley followed with a walk. Byars later scored after a CMU error after a Hughes sacrifice bunt and Kelley later came in to touch home on a wild pitch. Troop later doubled down the right field line, driving in Hughes for a 7-1 Spartan advantage.
Michigan State added another run in the home half of the fifth as sophomore shortstop Royce Ando singled to left to start the rally, and later swiped second. Kelley drove in Ando with a single as MSU opened up an 8-1 gap.
After all the scoring in the early going, the next few innings were scoreless until the top of the eighth when the Chips plated one after a bases-loaded walk. Sophomore relief pitcher Riley McCauley came on and got a strikeout to end the threat and leave the bases full of Chips, as CMU closed to 8-2.
The home team added three runs in the eighth, with Jones dealing the big blow with a two-run single to left to cap the scoring for the Spartans.
McCauley worked out of a leadoff single with three strikeouts in a row to end the game with an 11-2 victory for MSU.
The Spartans will open Big Ten Conference action at Illinois this weekend in Champaign, Illinois, Friday-Sunday, March 24-26. Friday’s series opener is at 7 p.m. ET, while Saturday has a 2 p.m. start and Sunday is slated for 3 p.m. Sunday’s game will be nationally televised on the Big Ten Network.
MSU hosts another in-state foe next week in a mid-week game, welcoming Western Michigan to McLane Stadium at Kobs Field on Tuesday, March 28. First pitch is slated for 3:05 p.m.
Fans can stay tuned to www.MSUSpartans.com or follow MSU Baseball on twitter at statebaseball for any schedule updates.