Michigan State baseball opened up their home season against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies on Wednesday.
“It’s good to finally be home,” MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. said. “We love playing here.”
Redshirt senior Chase Rihtarchik was on the mound for the Spartans. The righty looked to improve on his 0-2 record against the Golden Grizzlies.
Oakland started the game with some pop as they began with three straight hits. Oakland’s first baseman Zach Sterry scored the first run of the game with an RBI groundout to first. Rihtarchik bounced back and got the next two outs, and one of them by a strikeout.
The offensive attack kept coming as the Golden Grizzlies scored again in the top of the second. A hard groundball hit to the left side of the infield by rightfielder Robby Enslen gave a push for Oakland.
The Grizzlies kept the pressure on Rihtarchik, as Oakland’s third baseman Spencer Marentette brought outfielder Brett Impemba home with a bloop outfield single. It was just out of the reach of MSU centerfielder Anthony Cheky to increase their lead to 3-0.
In the bottom of the third inning, the Spartans had enough of the Oakland runs, as Cheky came through and brought freshman Dan Durkin and himself home with a homer to right field.
Then, Oakland starting pitcher Kendall Colvin beaned Ryan Richardson. Richardson was finally brought home by a rocket double by junior, Blaise Salter. At the end of the third inning, the game was tied up at 3-3.
Left-handed pitcher Bryan Jageilo was welcomed to the game in the fifth for the Golden Grizzlies, as Richardson brought home Cheky on a hard line drive to left field. MSU took a 4-3 in the bottom of the fifth.
Oakland had tied the game up with what would have been a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning. However, the umps deemed that the runner on third left early, and he was called out. Spartans avoided the tying run and remained in the lead 4-3 heading into the bottom of the seventh up one run.
Jimmy Pickens increased his hitting streak to 13 games with a single through the left side of the infield just past the outstretched glove of the Oakland shortstop. Joel Fisher added an insurance run to the Spartans lead, as he brought in Pickens on a sacrifice fly. Spartans led 5-3 headed into the final two innings.
Ultimately, the Spartans were able to hold on for a 5-3 win. Freshman Joe Mockbee was awarded the win after pitching two innings, allowing one hit and walking two batters. Jeff Kinley was awarded the save after pitching the final two innings and allowing one hit and no runs.
Coach Boss announced after the game that senior Mike Theodore will start the game for the Spartans in tomorrow’s exhibition against the Single-A Lansing Lugnuts.
First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. at Cooley Law School Stadium.
Zac Swierad is the host of Warning Track for Impact Sports.
Photo: Michigan State University Baseball