Michigan State baseball splits doubleheader in MLB Desert Invite


MSU Baseball during National Anthem

Jack Latterman and Evan Katz

EAST LANSING— The Michigan State baseball team played a doubleheader on Sunday, Feb. 19 against Fresno State University and the University of Arizona. In the first game, the Spartans defeated Fresno State 7-4, in their first matchup since 2018.  In the nightcap, MSU fell to Arizona 7-1.

Fresno State started the game firing on all cylinders on the offensive side, driving in two runs in the first and ending Spartan starter Adam Berghorst’s day after two outs. Fresno State had eight batters come to the plate in the inning.  

Momentum shifted when reliever Dominic Pianto entered the game, shutting the door and pitching 8.1 innings through the end of the game. He allowed three hits on the day, two runs, with only one being earned. He had four strikeouts on 107 pitches. 

“Dominic Pianto was just outstanding. For him to do what he did today was a huge boost for our team. He never was really in trouble, he was in command the whole way,” said head coach Jake Boss. “He did a really nice job of getting us out of the first inning and the plan was to at least get us into the fifth or the sixth, but he was just extremely efficient, got outs early in the count and was just in control the whole way.”

The Spartans came back in the third getting three runs on the board.  The inning started with a single by Trent Farquhar, who was three for five on the day.  Farquhar stole second, bringing him into scoring position for Mitch Jebb, who brought him home. 

After two walks to Brock Vradenburg and Jack Frank, Casey Mayes brought them in on an RBI triple. Mayes finished the game with three runs batted in.

The spartan offense kept clicking throughout the game totaling 15 hits.  In the five-inning, the lead was extended to three, making the score 5-2 with RBIs from Frank and Kark.  

In the sixth inning, Fresno State made things close.  A triple from Bobby Blandford scored Tyler Davis. Blandford later scored off a throwing error made by Jebb. 

The Spartans would win 7-4 after Vradenburg, and Bryan Broecker in the ninth scored insurance runs.

Michigan State faced Arizona in game two of Sunday’s doubleheader, but the perfect start to the season would not continue.  

“In game two, we ran into a really good arm, the left-hander pitcher from Arizona (Bradon) Zastrow was outstanding. The velocity was good, the breaking ball was good; I think he was as good of an arm as we’ll see all year long,” said Boss. “I don’t think we played poorly today, I just think we got beat by a very good team.”

MSU starting pitcher Noah Matheny struck out the side in his first inning with the Spartans and got out of a jam in the second.

Arizona outfielder Chase Davis’ two-run-homer got the scoring going early in the third inning.  Michigan State evened it up in the bottom of the third with a Broecker sacrifice fly, scoring Sam Thompson.  

The Wildcats regained the lead and didn’t look back.  Davis hit a second home run and tallied an RBI double, totalling the junior with four RBI’s in the game.  

Kiko Romero, Tommy Splaine and Tyler Casagrande also batted in one run each for Arizona.  

Arizona left-hander Bradon Zastrow struck out five and allowed just one run in his 5.1 innings on the mound.  Following two electric games for the Spartans on the offensive side, they could not get much going, totaling just fives hits in the game.

Dawson Netz and Chris Barraza entered in relief for the ‘Cats and sealed the win.

Max Chapman, Nolan Higgins, Gavin Sitarz and Brian Martin joined Matheny as Spartans on the mound on the night.  Greg Ziegler lead the green and white with two hits in his three appearances at the plate.

 “We’ll regroup and be ready to go for tomorrow,” said Boss. 

Michigan State’s next game will be Monday afternoon against Grand Canyon at 1 p.m., a short turnaround following an emotional week for all in the MSU community. Right-hander Andrew Carson is expected to take the mound for MSU.