EAST LANSING, Mich. — A trio of three-run innings were the perfect way to start off Michigan State’s 2017 home baseball campaign, as a mild Tuesday afternoon saw the Spartans’ 12th win of the season, and their first at McLane Baseball Stadium. The first of three consecutive weeks against in-state schools saw the Spartans defeat Central Michigan by a score of 11-2.
“I was really happy to see us swinging the bat the way we did,” Spartan coach Jake Boss Jr said. “It’s good to get back on track offensively.”
After Spartan left fielder Bryce Kelley threw out CMU second baseman Jason Sullivan at home to end the top of the first inning, it was time for the Spartan bats to get to work. For a team that entered the game leading the Big Ten in runs per game, MSU’s dangerous top of the lineup picked up pretty much right where it left off in Richmond, Va. last weekend.
The first four Michigan State batters reached base safely, with a Dan Durkin double setting the table for Marty Bechina, where a wild pitch to the third baseman scored Brandon Hughes. Bechina then singled into left-center field, scoring Durkin. Bechina would then take third on an Alex Troop single that was mishandled in the outfield, and a Zack McGuire sacrifice fly was just deep enough to score Bechina.
“We struggled a little bit this past weekend, especially on Sunday,” Troop said. “We talked about trying to work the middle of the field, and today I think we did that really well.”
Central Michigan would reply in the top half of the second, as a single and a Bechina error followed by another single that loaded the bases. Keegan Baar’s fifth appearance of the season yielded a bases loaded walk to Central third baseman Grant Frazer. Baar then settled down to finish the inning, but was pulled for Walter Borkovich after facing one batter in the third inning and only throwing 39 pitches.
“Ideally, we wanted to get four innings out of him,” Boss Jr. said. “I think there are key moments where the game can be won or lost, and it’s not always in the eighth or ninth innings.”
MSU’s reply came in the third and fourth innings as the Spartans extended their lead and killed off the game in one fell swoop.
A single to lead off the inning from catcher Chad Byars and a walk to Kelley put runners on first and second for the leadoff batter Hughes. His attempted sacrifice bunt was mishandled by the CMU infield, allowing Byars to score from second base. Kelley and Hughes both moved up a base on the play, and were both in scoring position until Troop came to bat with two outs. A wild pitch scored Kelley and advanced Hughes to third, where he would later score on Troop’s subsequent double.
Another run was tacked on in the fifth after Kelley singled to score shortstop Royce Ando, and both offenses remained quiet until the eighth inning, where MSU reliever Jake Lowery hit Central shortstop Alex Borglin with the bases loaded to score CMU’s second run of the day.
The Spartans weren’t about to be outdone, and they replied with their third three-run inning of the day, as Marty Bechina scored Hughes with a 1-2 single to the left side of the infield. Two batters later, Robbie Jones, pinch hitting for McGuire, added a two-run single to left field that scored Bechina and Durkin to make it eleven runs for MSU, who moved to 12-5 on the season.
The Spartans’ next matchup with Central Michigan will be in Mount Pleasant on May 16th towards the end of their season. MSU’s next matchup takes them to Champaign, Illinois to take on the Fighting Illini for a three-game weekend series. First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST.