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Spartans’ offense, pitching leads to 3-game series sweep against Oakland

March 25, 2012
Junior infielder and outfielder Jared Hook talks with head coach Jake Boss JR. on third base Saturday afternoon at McLane Baseball Stadium. The Spartans defeated Oakland University 11-2 in the second game of the series. Jaclyn McNeal/The State News
Junior infielder and outfielder Jared Hook talks with head coach Jake Boss JR. on third base Saturday afternoon at McLane Baseball Stadium. The Spartans defeated Oakland University 11-2 in the second game of the series. Jaclyn McNeal/The State News

For MSU pitcher Mike Theodore, Sunday was a welcomed change-up.

After starting the first four games of his Spartan career on the road, the sophomore right-hander — who transferred from Tennessee — made his first appearance at Kobs Field at McLane Baseball Stadium on Sunday against Oakland. Pitching seven innings and giving up just one run on seven hits while striking out four, Theodore earned his second win of the season as MSU (13-7) beat the Golden Grizzlies (3-16) 10-1 to complete a three-game sweep.

“It’s just a capper on a real good weekend,” Theodore said. “I got to get up in my own bed today instead of being on the road, and I got to kind of do my own thing coming in here and doing my pregame routine. It feels like a second home here, especially in front of our home fans.”

More than 2,000 people were in attendance on a beautiful afternoon to watch Theodore and the Spartans beat Oakland after the first two games of the series saw rainy, gloomy weather.

But while the conditions were improved Sunday, the pitching was just as good as it had been all weekend. After Theodore left the game, senior Tim Simpson and junior Ryan Martin came on to pitch two scoreless innings, finishing off a series in which MSU gave up just four runs in three games.

“I think we got the best staff in the (Big Ten) Conference,” Theodore said. “The guys go out there with a lot of confidence. Nobody goes out there and tries to do too much. Everybody just goes out and makes their pitches, and the results have been great.”

Theodore received some early run support Sunday, as the Spartans exploded for a five-run second inning. MSU drew three straight walks to start the inning and then took advantage of two Oakland errors on the way to the big bottom half.

Catcher John Estes gave the Golden Grizzlies their only run of the day on a home run in the top of the third, but it would not be nearly enough. The Spartans added three more runs in the sixth, and senior third baseman Torsten Boss hit a two-run shot over the right field fence in the seventh to round out the scoring.

Sunday’s game followed a script similar to Saturday’s contest, which MSU won 11-2. The final two games were much different than Friday’s 2-1 squeaker, when junior pitcher Tony Wieber brought home the game-winning run and picked up the save.

“The energy we brought Saturday and Sunday was a lot better,” said Torsten Boss, who hit a two-run homer Sunday. “The whole dugout was into the game, and then we had great crowds to help us out. Everybody was involved.”

Head coach Jake Boss Jr. was not happy following Friday’s game but was pleased to see the offense bounce back the next two days. He’s been discouraged by his team’s approach at the plate for most of the season, but he said he saw the team make strides this weekend.

“We’re getting a better feel for it right now,” Jake Boss Jr. said. “Offensively, we’re getting better. We’re not where we want to be yet, but at the same time, guys, the young guys especially, are learning that they don’t have to do too much. If they make productive outs, they’re going to help the ballclub.”

Torsten Boss led MSU at the dish Sunday, batting in three runs, but freshman right fielder Jimmy Pickens also chipped in with two hits and two RBIs.

MSU looks ahead two midweek home games with Bowling Green at 3:05 p.m. Tuesday and Central Michigan at the same time Wednesday. After that, the defending Big Ten champions open up conference play with a three-game home series against Ohio State.

Jake Boss Jr. said it’s always a good feeling to earn a sweep regardless of opponent, and it’s especially important with a big week of baseball coming up.

“We’re a confident group to begin with, but we played well the last couple days,” he said. “Hopefully we’re able to continue that into Tuesday and Wednesday with a couple midweek games and then get ready for Ohio State.”

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