Spartans ride all-around solid performance to series victory over Indiana State

MSU has won three of its last five games, seen improved starting pitching


Photo: Joe Dandron/WDBM

Alex McRae, Baseball Beat Reporter

EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Spartans entered Sunday afternoon’s contest with a dismal 6-22 record. The odds didn’t look good to improve upon that against a 23-5 Indiana State team who started their freshman phenome on the mound.

Tyler Whitbread entered the game with a 5-0 record and a sparkling 1.42 ERA. Opposing him for the Spartans was Caleb Sleeman, who came in with a 1-1 record and a 4.64 ERA.

The Spartans had already played two games against the Sycamores, taking the first game on Friday 1-0 in the extra innings and falling 2-1 on Saturday. Coming into this game, one would think that due to the outcomes of the first two games, offense would be coming at a premium, especially against the ISU ace.

BOX SCORE: MSU 6, Indiana State 0

MSU was able to strike early courtesy of a Casey Mayes two-run home run in the bottom of the second. That was enough for Sleeman, as he sliced right through the Sycamores’ lineup, only giving up three hits through 6.2 innings.

The Spartans tacked on one more on a Justin Antoncic single that scored Adam Proctor in the bottom of the sixth. The offense came alive once more in the bottom of the eighth inning, as three consecutive singles led to a bases loaded situation when Zach Iverson crushed a ball to deep right center for a three-RBI double.

Zach Iverson/MSU Athletic Communications

Evan Flohr came in relieve Sleeman in the seventh, striking out the lone batter he faced in that inning and managing to cleanly get out of a jam in the eighth. Indigo Diaz was once again the Spartans option to close the door in the ninth. He didn’t make it easy on himself, as he gave up a leadoff double, but then followed that up by getting two of the next three outs via strikeout.

In total the Spartans totaled six runs on 14 total hits while the Sycamores were held scoreless, scattering five hits across all nine innings. Sleeman picked up the win as the Spartans improved to 7-22 on the season.

The record may not be the prettiest thing in the world, but the Spartans have three wins in the last five games and the pitching over that stretch has been more than exceptional, only allowing a 11 runs. One of the biggest takeaways from this last game is the defensive success. The Spartans turned three double plays today which was a killer for the Indiana State offense.

Head coach Jake Boss Jr. was happy to see that his guys were able to “make the routine play.” The ability to make the routine play has been a struggle for the Spartans so far in the 2019 campaign but Boss is confident in his players and their ability to continue to perform at a high level.

“We saw what we were capable of this weekend,” he said.

The Spartans next contest will come against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in South Bend on Tuesday, with first pitch coming at 6 p.m. Michigan State will look to continue their improvements in all three aspects of the game during their second matchup with an ACC opponent.