After spending several weeks practicing indoors, a trip to South Carolina was supposed to mean warm weather and sunny skies for the MSU baseball team.
However, the team’s opening weekend maintained a very different blueprint.
Following an opening day loss to Furman, the Spartans (1-1 overall, 1-0 Big Ten) were snowed out Saturday against Miami (Ohio) before wrapping the weekend Sunday with a 7-4 victory over Northwestern with temperatures hovering in the mid 40s.
MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. said the opening weekend was a taste of what to expect when the team returns to East Lansing for its home opener on March 22.
“We got snowed out and that was a long day,” Boss said. “It was disappointing because some guys were excited to play and (Sunday) it was cold, which is something we’re going to have to deal with. We’ll probably play in colder weather.”
Junior pitcher David Garner (1-0) led the way on Sunday with six innings of work on the mound, scattering eight hits and four runs against Northwestern.
Garner was one of five Spartans to pitch in the game, including junior Jeff Kinley who picked up his first save of the season in a 7-4 win.
After a quiet four innings, the Spartans plated three runs in the fifth and three more in the seventh to jump out in front and never surrender the lead.
Sophomore catcher Blaise Salter led the way with two hits and an RBI in the winning effort.
But Boss said pitching was the strength that carried MSU to its first victory of the season.
“I think what we did well is we pitched,” Boss said. “We really threw it well and I think all five guys that pitched today did extremely well. David Garner was lights out in his first start.”
Senior pitcher Andrew Waszak started for the Spartans on Friday against Furman, tossing six innings and allowing two runs in a no-decision.
Coming into relieve junior pitcher Jeff Kinley in the bottom of the ninth, freshman closer Justin Alleman (0-1) allowed two hits, including the game-winning RBI on a single to center field by Hunter Burton to give the Paladins a 4-3 victory.
The only offense of the day came from senior catcher Joel Fisher, who drilled a three-run home run in the top of the fifth inning to put the Spartans ahead at the time, 3-2.
Boss said the Spartans struggled to find consistency at the plate and on defense in the opening weekend, citing the way the team played in both games this weekend.
“Joel put a good swing on a good pitch and we finally were able to get a leadoff hitter on in the inning,” Boss said. “We followed that with a walk and Joel connected for a three-run homer but that’s really the only offense we generated all day.”
The Spartans return to Greenville, S.C., next weekend for a four-game series starting with a doubleheader at 1 p.m. Friday against Western Carolina and continuing later in the day at 5 p.m. against Cincinnati.
‘Harlem Shake’ me out to the ball game
One of the few highlights of the opening weekend came not on the ball field, but in the form of a popular new Internet craze.
As game action was delayed because of snow Saturday, the Spartans joined with the Furman, Miami (Ohio) and Northwestern baseball teams to film a “Harlem Shake” video.
Featuring the music of American DJ Baauer, the video, which is roughly 30 seconds in length, starts with one person in the video dancing before the beat drops in the song, signaling everyone in the video to dance.
The craze started as a viral hit earlier in February and has since become a worldwide phenomenon with different variations from every corner of the globe.
Boss said it was a good opportunity for the teams to bond during a snow delay. However, a former Spartan great noticed Boss’ absence in the video.
“I got a text from Kirk Gibson and he saw it and said ‘Where were you in the video?’” Boss said. “I said ‘Well honestly, I didn’t even know they were doing it until it was almost over. Maybe I’ll get in the next one.’”