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Spartans top Oakland in second series game

March 24, 2012

Jake Boss Jr. is an offensive minded baseball coach.
The fifth year MSU head coach isn’t all about home runs and power hitting, necessarily, but he loves when his team can go out and produce runs in various situations.
That’s why Boss left the field after Saturday’s 11-2 win over Oakland at Kobs Field at McLane Baseball Stadium with a bigger smile on his face than after Friday’s 2-1 nailbiter.
“If we execute, good things are going to happen,” Boss said. “We had one (Friday) where we kind of grinded it out a little bit. But I would take the 11-2 (win) any day.”
MSU (12-7) didn’t outmuscle the Golden Grizzlies (3-15) on Saturday, instead playing small ball to move runners into scoring position and create opportunities. And unlike Friday, the Spartans capitalized on those chances.
The scoring started in the bottom of the first, when junior designated hitter Tony Wieber hit a sacrifice fly to bring home junior left fielder Jordan Keur. Going 4-for-5 with four RBIs, Keur led the Spartans to a strong offensive showing and said he feels very comfortable at the plate.
He added that Saturday’s offensive output was more indicative of MSU’s potential than Friday’s game.
“We’re better than what we’re showing right now,” Keur said. “And I think (Saturday) was a perfect example of what we’re capable of doing.”
The Spartans added another run in the second on a Keur single, which scored senior shortstop Justin Scanlon after he moved to second on a bunt and stole third.
Oakland fought back to tie the game in the top of the third, but MSU scored at least one run in each of the following innings, including a four-run eighth that set the stage for junior pitcher Joe Zwierzynski to close out the game.
Boss was pleased to see his team put some runs on the board, but he was most happy with the way the Spartans scored. A perfectly executed hit-and-run and a safety squeeze that brought in a run in the fourth inning are the exact kind of plays he said his team needs to make, and he said his fairly youthful roster has to realize that.
“It’s tough to hit a grand slam with two guys on base,” Boss joked. “So I think a lot of times guys, especially the younger guys, try to make too many things happen instead of letting the game come to them. I thought we did a pretty good job of that today.”
Junior second baseman Ryan Jones, who walked twice and had two hits and an RBI Saturday, said it’s the upperclassmen’s responsibility to help the younger players understand Boss’ philosophy, which was good enough for a Big Ten regular season championship last season. He also said when one person bunts or a sacrifices for the betterment of the team, other players will follow.
“You see somebody ahead of you get a hit, you want to move them over,” Jones said. “You want to pick up your teammate, and that’s where the contagious part comes from.”
On the mound, MSU’s pitching continued to pace the team, as junior Andrew Waszak picked up the win to move to 1-1 on the season with a 1.63 ERA. After five innings of work, Waszak deferred to senior Bryce Jenney, who then pitched three scoreless innings before Zwierzynski came on in the ninth.
The Spartans will try to sweep their first home series of the season at 1:05 p.m. Sunday, when they take on the Golden Grizzlies for the third time at McLane Baseball Stadium.
“It’s a really big game tomorrow,” Jones said. “They’re really going to come to play, and I think we’ll be ready. After you get the second win, you’re always looking for the sweep, and I think that’s what we need to do.”

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