Following a triumphant win over the Northwestern Wildcats Saturday, the Michigan State Spartans took the field Sunday afternoon with an opportunity to win the series against Northwestern and give them much needed momentum heading into the second half of the season.
Michigan State prevailed in this one, giving them the series victory and improving their record to 18-15 overall.
The story of the game was run production, the Spartans were able to produce four, three-run innings. The added run support gave starting pitcher Mick VanVossen some well-deserved confidence.
“The offense shows up early, it makes the game a lot easier pitching, a lot smoother and just able to feed the defense,” VanVossen said.
Following the win today at home, head coach Jake Boss is excited about the potential of his ball club.
“I think we’re starting to feel pretty good about ourselves offensively, and we still feel really good about where we’re at on the mound. We’re on a little bit of a run but we just have to keep our consistency,” Boss said.
In the series finale, Boss sent his ace to the mound, Mick VanVossen, who has struggled so far this season with a 1-4 record and a whopping 6.21 ERA. VanVossen’s counterpart has struggled just as much this year, as Northwestern sent Joe Schindler to the mound with a 6.52 ERA and a 1-3 record.
The Spartans would take the first lead in this game for the first time in the series after Cam Gibson got on base and scored from second on a line drive base hit from Mark Weist. With Weist on base, Blaise Salter continued the offensive attack in the bottom of the first after a rocket line drive off the glove of Connor Lind at third, bringing in Weist to score, giving MSU a 2-0 lead.
After a two-run rally, the Spartans would tack on another run after Anthony Cheky singled to right, scoring Salter, which gave MSU a 3-0 lead after one inning.
VanVossen had handled the Wildcats through three innings without allowing any runs until in the 4th fourth inning, Lind threw down a sacrifice bunt to score Jack Mitchell, which cut the Spartans’ lead to 3-1.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, with bases loaded and Jake Stolley coming into relief for Schindler, the Spartans had a huge opportunity to add some insurance runs to their lead. Ryan Krill came to the plate with the bases loaded and facing the fresh Stolley, and he rifled a shot into right-centerfield to plate three runs in, increasing the MSU lead to 6-1.
In Stolley’s second inning of work his struggles continued, as he put two runners on base early in the inning which came back to haunt him later on. With both of those men on and Gibson shot a line drive right up the middle, bringing in Cheky from second. After the RBI single by Gibson, Krill blooped a single over the head of first baseman Zach Jones for the Wildcats, bringing in both Dan Durkin and Gibson, blowing up the lead to 9-1 over the Wildcats.
With an eight-run deficit in the top of the sixth inning, the Wildcats tried to chip away with a single up the middle by Scott Heelan bringing in Jones to score, cutting the lead to 9-2 Spartans.
VanVossen’s day would be done after six innings of work. The final stat line for VanVossen was six innings, eight hits on two earned runs and striking out six Wildcats.
The Spartans sent VanVossen away well with an insurance run by scoring Ryan Richardson off of a single by Cheky, increasing the MSU lead to 10-2 in the bottom of the sixth.
After the Spartans sent their third pitcher to the mound, the Wildcats welcomed Keegan Baar to the game with a run after a single by Heelan in the top of the eighth, cutting the lead to eight, 11-3 MSU.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Spartans would bring home three runs on four hits, which bolstered the lead to 14-3.
The game would close out 14-3, as Michigan State won the series against the Wildcats. Vanvossen picked up the win and improved his record to 2-4. Michigan State as a team improved to 18-5 and 4-5 in the conference.
The Spartans will head to Comerica Park on Tuesday to face their in-state rivals the Michigan Wolverines at 6:35 pm.
Photo: Hannah McEnroe/MSU Impact Sports