MSU baseball defeated by Michigan, 5-3


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

Jack Latterman, Baseball Beat Reporter

ANN ARBOR, MI – Michigan State traveled to Ann Arbor on Friday for game one of their three game series with the Wolverines.  The Spartans won the first matchup of the season between their in-state rivals in the 2023 MLB Desert Invitational in February, but Michigan got the job done with a 5-3 win.

“I thought it was a pretty good baseball game,” MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. said.  “I thought we hit some balls hard, I’m pleased with our guys’ effort and it’s kind of one of those nights I guess.”

Michigan started the game strong on offense, with four runs in the first two innings. Cody Jefferis and outfielder Jonathan Kim each batted in a run in the second, but MSU starting pitcher Joseph Dzierwa limited the damage, stranding three baserunners. Dzierwa struck out three in his four innings of action.

The Spartans battled back to score two in the second through a Casey Mayes sacrifice fly and Mitch Jebb RBI single. This was the 19th RBI of the season for Jebb, who began the season on the list of the MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Draft Prospects.

Each side added one run to their total, with U of M’s Ted Burton homering and Brock Vradenburg adding another RBI to get him to 44 on the season, tying him for fifth in the Big Ten.

Michigan lefty Jacob Denner and MSU redshirt sophomore Noah Matheny each put together multiple scoreless innings on the mound.  Matheny escaped a bases loaded jam in the seventh, forcing a lineout by former Spartan Gabe Sotres and getting out of the inning unscathed.

MSU got runners aboard early in the seventh, but were unable to capitalize.  

“We had a chance in the seventh inning and hit a ball hard, and I thought we got a little bit unlucky and hit it right at the second baseman and got doubled off and I guess that’s how the game goes sometimes,” said Boss Jr.

Between Denner and Mitch Voit, the Wolverines slammed the door closed and finished the game with a 5-3 win. Pitching was the star for Michigan, allowing no runs after the fifth inning.  Denner pitched two scoreless innings with three strikeouts and allowed just one hit.

The Spartans have failed to score more than three runs in back-to-back games, but will look to heat back up and hit like they have been most of the season, ranking second in the conference in batting average..

“I’m pleased with our effort today,” said Boss Jr.  “We’ll be back at them tomorrow and we still have a chance to win the series, and that’s the goal every weekend. It’s hard to sweep anybody, so we’re a little bit behind the eight ball right now, but we’ll have a good effort tomorrow and be ready to go,” Boss Jr. said.

Game two of the series will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday.