Spartans split Saturday doubleheader against Buckeyes


Dominic Pianto pitches the ball during the Crosstown Showdown on April 4, 2023. Photo Credit: Sarah Smith/WDBM

Evan Katz, Baseball Beat Reporter

EAST LANSING – Michigan State concluded its series against Ohio State Saturday, playing a doubleheader at Jackson Field. MSU split the doubleheader but won the weekend conference  series. It was the Spartans’ third series win in as many weekends.

“We told our guys at the beginning of the year that if you win every series, you’re probably Big Ten champions,“ said MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. “We’ve won three of them, and we’ve got five to go.” 

“It’s hard to sweep anybody; I don’t care who you are and where you’re playing. It’s really tough to sweep, and so the goal is to win the series, and I am thankful for us to get that done today,” said Boss Jr. 

In game one, Ohio State got on the board in the first to start the action. Centerfielder Kade Kern doubled, scoring Trey Lipsey for his 19th RBI. The Buckeyes scored one more in the inning.

The Spartans responded in the bottom half of the third, headed by Jacob Anderson’s second triple of the season, scoring one in the third. 

After initially thinking he was out of the inning with a strikeout; Harrison Cook got hit by the ball on his back for the second time, allowing a Buckeye to come around and score for their fourth run in as many innings. 

Bryan Broecker got his fourth RBI of the series and his 21st of the season to cut Ohio State’s lead to two.

That momentum didn’t last long as catcher Matthew Graveline belted a two-run jack to the right, his third of the year. Graveline brought in four RBIs in the first game. 

“We got our butt handed to us in the first game, but that’s the beauty of baseball,” said Dillion Kark. “You just have a short memory, and we played 40 minutes after, so I couldn’t really carry it into this game, and I mean mercy down so it was a good day overall winning series.”

The Buckeyes blew the game open in the seventh, putting six runs in the inning and bringing ten men to the plate. 

The first game ended 13-2 in the seventh due to a conference run rule during a doubleheader on the last day of the series.

“I don’t know that I’ve ever been a part of being 10 run ruled in one game and then turning around and doing it to the opponent. Kind of a strange day,” said Boss Jr.

In game two, the script flipped. Michigan State trotted around the bases, scoring six runs, two of which occurred off an error by Graveline. The rally started at the top of the order as Trent Farquhar was hit by the pitch. The Spartans brought 12 batters to the plate in the inning. 

“We got great kids that have really strong leadership out here,” said Boss Jr.  “And so when I challenged those guys between the game today, I walked away, and I heard our leaders kind of pick up on that, and really, just the emphasis was on flipping the script. Game two to their credit, they got that done, and that’s hard to do when you get your backside handed to you like we did in game one.” 

In the top half of the second, Ohio State got one run on a sacrifice fly in the top half, before Kark yanked a two-run shot 404 feet for his fourth homer of the season,  making the score 8-1. Kark ended up with five RBIs  on the day.

“It felt really good,” said Kark. “I’ve seen the ball really well. Just driving the ball around. And yeah, it was a good day.”

On the mound, junior Nick Powers was in control. After allowing a run in the first and second, Ohio State couldn’t do anything offensively.  Powers threw six innings, giving up five hits, two runs, and striking out one. This was the most innings Powers has pitched all season.

“Nick was really good today,” said Boss Jr. “Believe it or not, it can be tough to pitch with a big lead like that because I think sometimes guys lose focus. I thought Nick did a really good job of damage control and really didn’t let them back into the ballgame, which was huge.”

The Spartans scored in every inning they came to bat besides the sixth and had 16 hits.

“I’d credit a lot to our hitting coaches,” said Kark. “They work with us anytime we want an off day when they could have an off day, and they’re sitting at home; we asked him to come throw to us and work with us. So credit to these guys and the scouting reports they build and really helps.”

Michigan State (18-10) won 16-3 in seven innings and the Spartans’conference record is now 6-3. Their next game is in South Bend, Indiana against Notre Dame on Tuesday, April 11, starting at 6 p.m.