Kark propels Spartans to come-from-behind win over Houston Baptist


MSU infielder Dillon Kark stands in the batter’s box against Michigan in 2021/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Jacob Phillips, Baseball Beat Reporter

EAST LANSING, Mich—Michigan State has been floating around the .500 mark all season. The Spartans came into Friday afternoon’s home game (the first of the year) against Houston Baptist with a 7-7 record.

Led by sophomore infielder Dillon Kark’s walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth, the Spartans got back on the right side of that distinction. With the win, MSU improved to 8-7 on the young season. Starting pitcher Harrison Cook went six innings of three-run ball for the Spartans.

Houston Baptist dropped to 6-13 with the narrow loss.

MSU pitcher Harrison Cook delivers a pitch during the Spartans’ 4-2 loss to Clemson on March 9, 2022/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Cook also notched seven strikeouts while yielding four hits and a walk.  His solid outing lowered his ERA to 6.63 through 15 games.

MSU started slow out of the gate as the Huskies took an early lead in the second inning thanks to an RBI single by outfielder Logan Letney and a two-run home run by catcher Parker Edwards.  

That’s all the Huskies would muster on offense for the rest of the game.

The Spartans would get one run back in the bottom of the second as junior outfielder Zaid Walker drove in sophomore Jack Frank with an RBI single. It was Walker’s 11th RBI of the season and his 16th hit.

After getting roughed up early, Cook bounced back from his performance in the second inning to pitch four consecutive innings without giving up a hit. 

“It was really big for him,” Spartan coach Jake Boss said. “It was just a matter of throwing strike 1, getting ahead in the count and then really commanding the at-bat.”

MSU manager Jake Boss exchanges a lineup card with an umpire before the Spartans take on Western Carolina on March 12, 2022/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Cook’s improved pitching allowed the Spartans to continue to close the gap in scoring. Frank sent a home run over the left field fence in the fourth inning to bring the score within one. A fielding error in the sixth allowed the Spartans to tie the game at three.

“Three runs in the second inning, it’s so early in the game that nobody’s really concerned,” Frank said. “We all just keep grinding.”

He would finish the game with three hits, an RBI and a walk.

The seventh inning saw both teams relieve their starting pitchers; junior pitcher Conner Tomasic took the mound for the Spartans. He finished the final three innings of the game without giving up any hits and collecting four strikeouts. 

For his efforts, Tomasic was awarded the win, his first win of the year. 

The game would remain tied at three until Kark, doing his best Peter Ahn impression on March 11 in MSU’s 10-8 walk-off win against Cincinnati, blasted a home run out to left field to give the Spartans the come-from-behind win. It was the first walk-off hit of Kark’s career.

“I knew I put a really good swing on it, and it went out,” he said.

The Spartans are set to take on Houston Baptist in the second game of the series on Saturday afternoon. First pitch is set for 1:05 p.m.