MSU defeats USC Upstate in ‘Battle of the Spartans’


Evan Katz, Baseball Beat Reporter

EAST LANSING — The Michigan State baseball team battled against the University of South Carolina Upstate, also called the Spartans in South Carolina on Friday afternoon. Unlike the movie 300, two Spartan sides faced off against each other in the One Spartanburg, Inc. Baseball Classic this weekend. Michigan State won the battle by a score of 13-6. 

Last weekend, Michigan State won three of the four games in the MLB Desert Invitational. They beat Michigan 15-8, took one of two in a doubleheader, winning seven to four against Fresno State, and losing to Arizona seven to one. MSU concluded play in the invitational against Grand Canyon, winning seven to one. 

Moving into today’s game, South Carolina Upstate got their offense firing early. Daniel Gernon batted a RBI double, bringing Troy Hamilton home to score the first run of the game. Noah Rabon also doubled in the first, but MSU pitcher Joseph Dzierwa was able to strand him with a strikeout and ground out to end the first. 

“I thought Joseph Dzierwa was pretty good again today,” MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. said. “He had a tough start walking a guy and giving up a double, and then really kind of settled into it and, unfortunately, kind of made one bad pitch with the grand slam, but, other than that he was really, really good. He keeps showing signs of what we think he can be here and he’s just going to continue to get better and better and better. I’m really proud of Joe for getting his second win today,” said Boss Jr. 

Michigan State’s offense went six up, six down, to start the game against Reese Dutton. This was before redshirt sophomore and designated hitter Sam Busch reached first base through an error made by Johnny Sweeny.

Shortly afterwards, a single by Dillon Kark and a bunt single by Greg Ziegler set up Trent Farquhar. Farquhar’s line drive to left field brought all three runners in, making it a 3-1 game. MSU ended up putting a four spot up in the third inning.

In the fourth, Bryan Broecker was hit by a pitch. Busch also originally got a free base after he was hit, but after discussion from the umpire crew, it was a foul ball off the swing. The next pitch Busch saw, he hit a double and advanced on to third on the play at home trying to get Broecker.  

Broecker was ruled safe, making the score five to one.  

Immediately after, Ziegler doubled to make the score six to one. The inning ultimately came to a close for Michigan State after Ziegler was called for runners interference at third base.

In the sixth, the Upstate Spartans brought MSU’s lead to one after a grand slam to left field from Grant Sherrod off of Dzierwa.

Dzierwa’s final pitching line in his first start of the season was six IP, five runs all earned. He also gave up seven hits, two walks, five strikeouts and got the win. 

In the top half of the seventh, Michigan State scored five insurance runs before Upstate scored one in the bottom half of the inning, but MSU got that run and one more right back.

“When they got the big grand slam and made it close, our guys really responded, so I’m very proud of our guys and the approach that they took all day long,” Boss Jr. said. “We just keep playing hard and nothing really fazes these guys and they showed that today, so we put together nine pretty good innings of baseball,” said Boss Jr.

Michigan State (4-1) will play Gardner-Webb on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 2 p.m. EST.