With members of the Izzone at hand on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, the MSU baseball team (23-17 overall, 7-7 Big Ten) broke out of its hitting slump to beat last place Northwestern 7-1 and take a 2-0 lead in the series.
MSU sophomore RHP Justin Alleman had a strong outing
to improve to 5-1. He gave up only one earned run on four hits in 7.2
innings of work.
The Izzone was encouraged to come to both softball and baseball games
this weekend for an opportunity to get a free t-shirt and pizza. The
award for attending either of the games was eligibility to participate
in batting practice with the teams on Monday, April 28th .
Head coach Jake Boss Jr. was happy with the win, citing MSU's improving offense as a bright spot.
"I thought we did a good job of putting good swings on pitches
that we can hit hard, and our guys did that. So, good day offensively
today," Boss said.
A pair of costly Northwestern errors led to two MSU runs in both the third and fourth innings.
In the bottom of the third inning, junior first baseman Ryan Krill started the rally
with MSU's first hit of the afternoon and freshman infielder Johnny Nate was walked shortly after.
A sacrifice bunt by sophomore Justin Hovis moved Krill and Nate to
second and third. Then a pop-fly was dropped by Northwestern's Hopfner
and Krill scored MSU's first run of the game.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, MSU scored again thanks to another throwing error.
After a base hit by junior Jimmy Pickens, another error brought Pickens
to second. He would steal third and senior catcher Joel Fisher would
drive him home with a sacrifice fly to center field.
MSU found its footing on offense in the fifth inning with a two-out rally.
After Nate singled, was thrown out stealing and Hovis struck out bunting, the two-out rally began for the top of the order.
Sophomore Cam Gibson singled, junior Anthony Cheky followed, and junior
Blaise Salter hit a double to score both Gibson and Cheky.
An intentional walk for junior outfielder Jimmy Pickens and a walk for redshirt junior infielder Ryan
Richardson set the stage for senior infielder Joel Fisher's base hit to score two
more runs and extend the lead to 6-0.
Some good defense by MSU also helped keep Northwestern off the board throughout most of the afternoon.
"I think I let up a couple bad hits and just getting those double plays right in the perfect situation was key," Alleman said. "My
off-speed was kind of struggling until sort of the end. But we made
some key plays on defense, a couple double plays so that was crucial."
Freshman RHP Jake Lowery came in out of the bullpen to finish off the game for the Spartans.
Northwestern starting RHP Brandon Magallones gave up five earned
runs on seven hits in five innings of work. Senior RHP Ethan Bramschereiber came in
to finish the game for the Wildcats.
Northwestern scored in the top of the eighth after a sacrifice fly by Zach Jones, scoring Luke Dauch.
MSU responded in the bottom of the eighth with their final run of the
afternoon. Ryan Krill hit a double down the left field line and Johnny
Nate brought him home with a hit to centerfield.
MSU will be looking to sweep the series tomorrow when they play Northwestern in the series finale at 1:05 .