EAST LANSING — Michigan State baseball came into its weekend battle with Minnesota without having won a series since the first four games of the season. That all changed as the Spartans won two out of three games against the Golden Gophers and climbed back to .500 with a 9-9 record. Here are three takeaways from MSU’s series win:
Michigan State’s ability to come from behind. In the first game of the series, the Spartans were trailing 5-1 after the fifth inning and eventually tied the score with four runs in the sixth. The Spartans found themselves down 6-5 in the eighth inning but were able to score one in the eighth and one in the ninth to hold on for a 7-6 victory.
The big inning that sparked the comeback for Michigan State took place in the top of the sixth which included two walks, two doubles and a single. The Spartans were aided by a wild pitch on one of the walks, providing the first run of the inning.
In the series finale, Minnesota was ahead 7-0 after the fifth inning. After trimming the lead to 7-4 through seven innings, the Spartans scored six runs in the eighth in one of the more bizarre ways you’ll ever see. MSU’s first three runs of the inning came on a sacrifice fly and two RBI singles. The final three runs were courtesy of three consecutive bases-loaded walks, as MSU went on to win the game 10-7.
The second takeaway is how strong MSU’s relief pitching was in the two victories. In both wins, the relievers combined for eight and two-thirds innings, giving up only one earned run. Leading the pack was Wyatt Rush who pitched five and one-third innings in the series allowing just one run. Rush also earned the victory in the third game of the series.
While the relievers struggled in game two, it’s always a good sign when the bullpen can help carry a team to victory.
The final takeaway is Michigan State’s ability to gain momentum after winning its first series since early March. Following a 3-1 start to the season in its four-game series with Maryland, the Spartans went on to lose or split their next four series. After finding success this past weekend, MSU will be home at McLane Baseball Stadium for its next four games with a chance to gain some ground in the Big Ten standings.
Those games will be against Penn State and Purdue who currently have a combined record of 10-24. Michigan State has won three of its last four games and will try to build on this momentum against the Nittany Lions and Boilermakers. The first of the four games will take place Friday at 3:05 pm against Penn State.