Michigan State ends the weekend on a positive note in 5-1 win


McLane Baseball Stadium/ Photo Credit: Eric Bach/WDBM

Michael Markoch, Baseball Beat Reporter

EAST LANSING — It was a great day all around for the Michigan State Spartans, as they avoided a weekend sweep with a 5-1 victory over the Indiana Hoosiers in the series finale on Sunday at McLane Stadium.

MSU coach Jake Boss Jr. said he was proud of his team for getting a good win today.

“We challenged them a little bit before the game and said it was going to be about mental toughness today,” Boss said. “(Indiana) took it to us Friday and Saturday, and it was important for us to bounce back today.”

The Spartans got the scoring started early in the bottom of the second inning, when after a leadoff walk was issued to Zaid Walker, freshman designated hitter Jack Frank lined a double over the head of the Hoosiers’ center fielder and Walker scored from first. Frank was then thrown out between second and third. Then after a Mitch Jebb single, Spartan first baseman Reese Trahey doubled off the first baseman’s glove and plated Jebb, giving the Spartans a 2-0 lead after two innings of play.

In the third inning, the Spartans would tack on another run when Bryce Kelley got on with a lead-off walk, stole second and then advanced to third on a wild pitch by the Hoosiers’ starter, Gabe Bierman. Spartan third baseman Zach Iverson then plated Kelley on a sacrifice fly, giving the Spartans a 3-0 lead. 

MSU outfielder Bryce Kelley runs out of the batter’s box during a game/ Photo Credit: Jeremy Fleming/MSU Athletic Communications
MSU outfielder Bryce Kelley runs out of the batter’s box during a game/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

The story of the game, however, was the pitching performance by Spartan freshman starter Nick Powers, who rarely faced any trouble in his first six innings of work. In the fifth, the Hoosiers threatened with two men on and just one out, but Powers was able to get a flyout and strikeout to end the inning.

“I have trust in all my guys, they always make the plays behind me,” Powers said. 

Powers thought the early runs helped give him more confidence and allowed him to feel more confident in his pitches throughout the game.

The Spartans were able to keep their foot on the gas throughout the game, something the team has struggled to do in recent weeks. In the bottom of the sixth, Bailey Peterson came in to pinch hit for Frank and hit one to the wall for a leadoff double and then scored on a ground ball by redshirt freshman catcher Gabe Sotres that turned into an error by the Hoosiers. Sotres would then come around to score on a single by yet another freshman, Trent Farquhar, and the Spartans led 5-0. Boss has been proud of the way the freshmen have stepped up this year.

“We had a freshman behind the plate, a freshman at second base, a freshman at first for a majority of the year,” Boss said. “We got a lot of young guys that I think are really playing well right now and Mitch and Nick and the other freshmen, those guys are really leading the way.”

The Hoosiers scored their only run of the game after a leadoff double by first baseman Jordan Fucci and then a single by shortstop Jeremy Houston. That run knocked Powers out of the game, but the freshman left with an exceptional final line of six and two thirds innings pitched, four hits, scattered, one walk and three strikeouts on 93 pitches.

“Nick was really the calming force out there; he was really in control the whole way,” Boss said of his young pitcher. “He was only in trouble once and kind of got himself out of it; it was important for him to go deep into the game for us, and he did just that; he was really really good again.”

Burrell Jones came in to close the game out for the Spartans and pitched a scoreless two and a third innings, only allowing two hits and striking out three. 

Michigan State improves to 7-8 on the season and will come back to action on April 2 in Minneapolis, as they will have a weekend series with the Minnesota Golden Gophers.