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Baseball dominates Bowling Green, 13-3

March 27, 2012
Junior pitcher Trey Popp throws a pitch down the middle as Tuesday afternoon at McLane Stadium. The Spartans capped a 13-3 victory over Bowling Green. Aaron Snyder/The State News.
Junior pitcher Trey Popp throws a pitch down the middle as Tuesday afternoon at McLane Stadium. The Spartans capped a 13-3 victory over Bowling Green. Aaron Snyder/The State News.

Before the MSU baseball team started the 2012 season, the Spartans came together and made it a goal to not take any plays off.

After losing in the Big Ten Tournament last season, MSU was denied an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, and head coach Jake Boss Jr. and his players felt that could have been avoided had they won just a few more mid-week nonconference games.

So the Spartans entered Tuesday’s contest against Bowling Green with a new dedication, determined to set the tone for a season’s worth of mid-week games.

They succeeded, routing the Falcons 13-3 in a dominating performance at McLane Baseball Stadium at Kobs Field.

“You always want to do well in every game, but we let a regional bid slip through our fingers last year with a couple losses mid-week,” junior left fielder Jordan Keur said.

“We made an emphasis at the beginning of the year that we’re going to come out and compete every game, every pitch. Right now, we’re doing that and getting some momentum rolling into the weekend.”

Boss said MSU (14-7) isn’t going after revenge this season, but players talk about how their bid was “stolen” from them on an almost daily basis. The Spartans have no one to blame but themselves, but Boss said they use that as motivation during mid-week games.

And MSU played like a motivated team Tuesday, Boss said.

The Spartans fell behind Bowling Green (8-16) 1-0 after one inning. In the bottom of the second, though, freshman designated hitter Blaise Salter hit a double to bring home sophomore catcher Joel Fisher and tie the game at one.

In the lineup for the first time since injuring his left knee trying to field a foul ball early in the season, Fisher’s day was just getting started. The very next inning, Fisher reached on a fielding error, allowing junior right fielder Tony Wieber to score. That capped a two-run third inning that put MSU ahead 3-1, and the Spartans never looked back.

Two innings later, Fisher struck again with an RBI single to center field as part of the two-run fifth inning. MSU followed the fifth inning up with four runs in both the sixth and seventh innings, while the Falcons added two runs in the seventh.

Hitting sixth, Fisher went 2-for-5 with an RBI on the day, but Boss was most pleased with the fact he was able to play all nine innings behind the plate.

“It felt great just to be back in the lineup, and it felt good to be able to contribute,” Fisher said. “I’m just happy to be back and feeling good the whole game, so we’ll go from there.”

Boss said he doesn’t know what to expect from Fisher when the Spartans play host to Central Michigan at 3:05 p.m. Wednesday, but he hopes he can catch again this weekend when MSU opens up Big Ten play against Ohio State.

On the mound, the Spartans continued to receive strong efforts from everyone who entered the game. Sophomore David Garner started the game, going three innings, giving up four hits and striking out seven batters. Junior right-hander Trey Popp then pitched three scoreless innings before handing the ball to senior Tim Simpson for two innings.

And although Wieber struggled at the plate, going 0-for-4, he was able to close the game with a three up, three down ninth inning.

The offense took center stage on Tuesday, though, as nine Spartan batters picked up at least one hit on the way to 16 as a team. Since MSU struggled to a 2-1 win against Oakland on Friday, when Boss was not happy with his team’s effort, the Spartans have outscored their opponents 34-6, much to the delight of their head coach.

“I think we learned a lesson after Friday’s game that we really need to be focused and really treat these games like they’re conference games,” Boss said. “I think we did that today, and hopefully can do it again (Wednesday).”

Keur led the charge at the plate with a 4-for-5 day, while freshman Jimmy Pickens added a home run.

MSU now has won seven games in a row and 10 of its last 11. The Spartans look to win their eighth consecutive game Wednesday against the Chippewas, and Keur said that would be big with the Buckeyes coming to East Lansing on Friday for a three-game series to open up the conference season.

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“Momentum is huge in this game,” Keur said. “People are feeding off each other, and to get it rolling heading into the Big Ten, that’s huge. And that’s what we’re here for, to play in the Big Ten.”

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