Thursday, February 29, 2024

Spartans blank Saints in home opener

March 28, 2002
Junior catcher Brady Burrill slides into first base as Siena Heights first baseman Nick Krusens reaches for the ball. The Spartans beat the Saints 6-0 in Wednesday’s home opener. —

The Spartans’ home opener treated fans to the baseball team’s first shutout of the season.

MSU (15-3) defeated Siena Heights (4-19) 6-0 at Kobs Field on Wednesday afternoon.

“Our team is definitely really confident, there’s no question about that,” Spartan manager Ted Mahan said. “They are feeling really good right now, each day they go to the ballpark and they feel they can win.”

The Saints tallied two hits in the top of the first inning, but failed to get another hit the rest of the game, only reaching base once more on a walk.

Senior right-hander Pat Gill (3-1) picked up the win, but only pitched the third inning. MSU used eight different pitchers in the game.

Senior left-hander Kyle Geswein started for the Spartans. He went two innings and gave up the Saints’ only hits of the game. From there, MSU used a different pitcher every inning.

“For a hitter, it’s definitely easier to hit a pitcher after you’ve seen him a couple times,” Saints manager Gordie Theisen said. “We also haven’t played since Saturday, but you have to give their pitchers credit.

“I think they only walked one guy in nine innings and they were in the strike zone and they were getting ahead of our hitters, so their pitchers did a pretty good job.”

Siena Heights left-hander Phil Dunn picked up the loss after seven innings. He allowed all six runs on 10 hits.

The Spartans scored their first run on a dribbler to third by senior shortstop Jared Koutnik. Koutnik was thrown out at first, but junior second baseman Charlie Braun scored from third.

Junior left-fielder Brett Wattles scored on the next play, as junior right-fielder Bob Malek doubled to put the Spartans up 2-0.

MSU added another run in the fourth, one in the fifth on a home run from Koutnik, and two more in the sixth.

Sophomore first baseman Scott Koerber led the Spartans with two RBIs. He was 3 for 4 on the day.

“I felt really good today,” Koerber said. “It was good to get outside since we haven’t been out in a while.”

Regardless of the Spartans 11 hits and six runs, Mahan wasn’t satisfied offensively.

“We just didn’t have a very good day offensively,” Mahan said. “We didn’t hit the ball hard, and hopefully it was just the first game at home. Last year, the same thing happened except it was a conference game.

“Fortunately, it was a nonconference game and now we have a nonconference game under our belt at home.”

Koerber said anytime a team gets a shutout, it’s the pitchers that deserve the credit.

“The pitchers did great today,” he said. “They came right after the hitters, threw strikes, got outs, and that’s just what we need them to do.”

Mahan said none of Wednesday’s pitchers were regular starters for the Spartans. But Mahan said he expects that to be the norm during the week.

“We’ll generally do that during the week to save our pitching,” Mahan said. “We couldn’t use any starters with the weekend only two days away.”

The Spartans open Big Ten play Friday, with the first of a four-game series with Minnesota (8-11). MSU hosts all four games, including a doubleheader on Saturday and the finale on Sunday.

Mahan hopes the Spartans can build momentum off Wednesday’s win.

“I think it was good today to get a game at home,” he said. “Hopefully being at home will continue to be an advantage for us when we play Minnesota this weekend.”

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