Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Return to conference action yields 2 wins for surging Spartans

April 8, 2002
Senior pitcher Kyle Geswein throws the ball during the MSU vs. Minnesota baseball game last Sunday. The Spartans lost 10-6. This weekend, MSU won two of three games at Northwestern. —

Despite rain canceling its Sunday contest, the MSU baseball team left Northwestern on a high note after winning two of three against the Wildcats.

The Spartans (19-6 overall, 4-3 Big Ten) dropped Friday’s contest 6-3, but rallied on Saturday to take both games of the doubleheader, 3-1 and 9-1. Sunday’s contest with the Wildcats (8-15, 2-5) was canceled after a two-hour and five-minute rain delay. The game will not be made up.

“I told the team before we left that to win championships, we have to win series on the road sometimes and we’re certainly pleased with winning two of three games on the road,” Spartan manager Ted Mahan said. “We’ve played really well and I’m very happy to take two games this weekend.”

With the weather making runs harder to come by on the offensive side of the ball, the Spartans have been relying on their pitching staff a lot more. Even with Friday’s loss, junior catcher Brady Burrill said the staff was phenomenal this weekend.

“The pitchers did another great job this weekend,” Burrill said.

“They consistently were throwing strikes, keeping their hitters off balance. They’ve done a great job keeping us in games all year by throwing strikes and getting outs.”

Sophomore right-hander Bryan Gale (3-2) pitched six strong innings Friday, but his team’s offense didn’t help him out, tallying only six hits throughout the game.

“Bryan pitched another great game but their pitcher just threw a little better,” Mahan said. “Their pitcher threw one of the best outings against us all year. He was throwing strikes and was in the low 90s.”

Burrill said the team rebounded well from the defeat to take both games in Saturday’s doubleheader.

“I think our players started putting the ball in play more,” Burrill said. “The pitchers came back and kept us in the games like they have all year. (Freshman right-hander Tim) Day threw a great game in the second game and (senior right-hander Nick) Bates had another tremendous outing in the first game.”

Bates improved his record to 7-0 by pitching all seven innings, striking out six and scattering six hits in the first contest.

“I felt really good,” Bates said. “I went out and did what I could do. I felt like I had some better stuff and I shut them down.”

Mahan said Bates has been the catalyst of the pitching staff all season and he always has confidence in his senior fireballer.

“Nick’s just done it all year,” Mahan said. “Nick always comes through when we give him the ball. He set the tone and has done it every game this year. I just can’t ask for anything more.”

Day improved to 5-1 with his strong outing in Saturday’s second game. He pitched his third complete game of the season, striking out three and scattering eleven hits.

Mahan said Day was incredible and has been showing great poise as a freshman.

“Tim gave us another great game,” Mahan said. “Every time he goes out there, he throws strikes for us.”

Taking the series boosted the team’s spirits after last weekend’s disappointment, where MSU split a four-game series with Minnesota at Kobs Field.

Despite only taking two games from a struggling Minnesota team, Bates said his team never got down and he was pleased with its effort against Northwestern.

“I think it gives us a lot of confidence,” he said. “I think anytime you win a series on the road that says a lot about your team. This series is getting us ready to play Indiana next weekend.

“Now we’re focused and getting ready to prove ourselves in the Big Ten.”

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