Michigan State sweeps Western Illinois in Saturday doubleheader


Jack Moreland

Wyatt Rush pitches against Western Illinois on April 15, 2023. Photo Credit: Jack Moreland/WDBM

Evan Katz, Baseball Beat Reporter

EAST LANSING – Michigan State and Western Illinois played a doubleheader Saturday due to impending weather Sunday. The Spartans won both games, sweeping the series. 

Harrison Cook started on the mound for the Spartans in game one. Besides allowing six hits, he was very efficient, allowing just two runs, compared to his ERA of 5.58.  From the third through the sixth, Cook retired eight straight batters. His day concluded with two outs in the seventh. 

After a scoreless first two innings, MSU catcher Sam Thompson lined one to left field over the wall and into the pine trees for his second home run of the year.  

The Spartans rallied in the fourth, piling four runs on four hits led by a Jack Frank two-run shot. MSU batted around the entire order, bringing nine to the plate and expanding the score to 5-0.

Frank once again opened the scoring in the fifth, totaling his fourth RBI of the game and 30th of the season. Senior Casey Mayes followed with a single up the middle, scoring two more to set the game at 8-0. In game one, the Spartans knocked 12 hits.  

“He’s pretty locked in right now as are a couple other guys, but Jack’s got a lot of power,” said MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. “That’s what he’s capable of. I thought he put together a couple of really good at-bats, and stayed under control mechanically.”

In the seventh, Western Illinois loaded the bases with two outs, walking in a run for the Leathernecks to cut the deficit to six. Redshirt sophomore Noah Matheny was able to get out of the jam.

The Spartans added their ninth run of the game after centerfielder Gregg Ziegler stole second, allowing designated hitter Sam Busch to steal home. MSU connected to add three more runs, forcing the doubleheader run rule to be implemented at a score of 12-2. 

Unlike the first game of the day, Western Illinois scored first. After a leadoff double, right fielder  Rickey  Pospisil roped a ball down the third baseline for his seventh RBI of the season.

However, the lead didn’t last long, as the Spartans responded with another set of back-to-back home runs, just like Friday.  These came from Bryan Broecker and Frank to give the Spartans a 2-1 lead.Frank went 6-8 at bat in the two games and Broecker went 4/4 in the second game.

After a difficult second inning, Nick Powers settled in nicely after giving out the solo run. Powers pitched into the eighth, before the weather delay, throwing 7.2 innings and allowing three hits, two walks and striking out four, while only giving up one run. 

I thought we pitched extremely  well today, and I’m really pleased with the effort out of both starters,” said Boss Jr. “Defensively we were clean, we didn’t make an error all day long, and we put up two big numbers, and so that’s a good recipe for a doubleheader sweep.”

The Spartans extended their lead to two in the third inning after a groundout from Brock Vradenburg, scoring Farquhar for his 41st RBI this season.

In the sixth, Vradenburg and Broecker got aboard early and scored off a Frank RBI double for his seventh RBI of the day. Afterward, a balk scored Broecker, and Frank later came around to make the score 6-1.

Rain showers delayed the conclusion of the game, but Michigan State ended up taking six more runs after the sixth inning to win all five of their games this week, bringing their season record to 23-10.

“We just played five games in five days,” said Boss Jr. “You try to play 56 games and sometimes, you get back-to-back midweek games, but credit our guys. I thought they handled five games in five days pretty well.”

Michigan State will play against Purdue Fort Wayne on Wednesday, April 19 at McLane Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m.