By Tino Abarca
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Game two of three took place on Saturday at McLane Baseball Stadium on Military Appreciation Day. Michigan State, sporting the special military jerseys, hosted Ohio State following a game one shutout. Spartans would down the Buckeyes again, with a thrilling 6-5 victory in front of a crowd of 2,201.
Both offenses went a combined 1-of-18 with runners in scoring position Friday afternoon. That would not be the case today as runs came often and early.
The Spartans were 14-2 when scoring first, and 9-2 when scoring in the first inning coming into the game. Today, they would improve those records doing both.
Buckeyes starter Jake Post recorded only two outs in the first inning, when Dan Durkin lined a ball off his head. Durkin was able to move into second safely with a double as the ball ricochet into foul territory near left field. Fortunately, Post left under his own power with what appeared to be a wound near his right ear. Spartans capitalized off reliever Ryan Feltner, as Matt Byars singled home Durkin. A hit by Alex Troop, put two on, allowing Zack McGuire to hit a three-run home run. His sixth of the season gave the Spartans 4-0 lead in the first.
Ohio State responded with a pair of runs in the second after a Bo Coolen double, following a Dominic Canzone single and stolen base. Coolen was pushed across on a double in the right center alley by Freshman Connor Pohl, making it 4-2.
Starter Ethan Landon’s day was brief as he allowed three runs on four hits. Coach Jake Boss Jr. had a short leash for Landon, utilizing Walter Borkovich early in the contest. Borkovich fizzled the Buckeyes rally, recording a pick off and fly out to end the inning with a score of 4-3.
Dan Chmielewski who went 2-for-3, ended the five inning Spartans scoring drought with a towering two-run home run in the bottom half of the sixth. His third on the season was enough to knock Feltner out of the game with the score at 6-3.
Joe Mockbee was called upon for the second straight day to relieve Borkovich. The lone run Mockbee allowed was a solo shot to Canzone, but struck out six in three innings of work.
“Mockbee was great” Boss Jr. said, giving credit to his Senior reliever. “Joe does what Joe does…Joe was really really good today.”
The Buckeyes showed life in the ninth with a massive home run over the left field scoreboard by Jalen Washington. Tre’ Gantt followed with a double to the left field wall. Riley McCauley preserved the Spartans 6-5 lead striking out the side, saving his seventh game of the season. He saved the game for Mockbee’s fourth win on the 2017 campaign.
“If Riley is going to be our closer, he’s got to get it done in that spot” Boss Jr. said of his confidence in McCauley.s “I trust Riley, he is a competitor.”
Boss Jr. acknowledged the home struggles, but is happy with the way they’ve played the past couple days.
“It’s important to win a series at home, we haven’t played great at home, and another big day tomorrow,” he said.
With the win, Michigan State improves to 20-11 overall, and 5-3 in the Big Ten. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes have dropped their fourth straight game, and fall to 14-21 overall, and 3-7 in conference play. Winning today’s game, MSU will look to clinch a series sweep on Easter Sunday. Probable starters are: Andrew Gonzalez (MSU), and Reece Calvert (OSU). First pitch is slated for 1:05 p.m.