After dropping two of three against Indiana University for their first conference-series loss of the season, the Spartans returned to action Wednesday. MSU hosted the struggling Rockets of Toledo University (9-32-1), and took the weekday match up to improve to 28-10 on the season. The Spartans defeated the Rockets by a final score of 4-1.
The Rockets were the first team to score when they got things started in the top half of the third inning. Junior catcher Corey Tipton started the inning with a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Two batters later, senior right fielder Cory Finkler singled to move Tipton over to third and Tipton scored on an RBI fielder’s choice hit by sophomore center fielder Brad Boss.
Despite other scoring threats, MSU wouldn’t reach the scoreboard until the fifth inning. Junior catcher Matt Byars led the inning off with a triple, which was hit over the center fielder’s head to extend his hitting streak to 14 games. Senior right fielder Kris Simonton scored Byars on an RBI groundout to second base. The next batter, sophomore DH Zack McGuire homered to left field, over the scoreboard and into the pine trees to help MSU take a 2-1 lead over the Rockets.
MSU tacked another two runs onto its lead in the bottom of the sixth to take a 4-1 lead over Toledo. Sophomore center fielder Brandon Hughes led the inning off with a single, and stole second to put a man in scoring position. The next batter, junior first baseman Jordan Zimmerman, hit a single to right and scored Hughes making it 3-1. Two batters later, freshman left fielder Marty Bechina singled to right, scoring Zimmerman and making it a 4-1 ball game.
Sophomore southpaw Keegan Baar started the game for MSU. Baar allowed one earned run and lasted five innings and gave up five hits, while walking one batter and striking out two. Sophomore right-hander Andrew Gonzalez came in for relief and bridged the way for junior reliever Josh Buchalski, who retired the side and sealed the win for the Spartans.
The Spartans will take Thursday off before traveling out to Ann Arbor for a monumental three-game conference matchup against University of Michigan. U-M comes into the series ranked in second place through conference play with an 8-3 Big Ten record. MSU is third in the conference with an 8-4 league record. First pitch for the matchup is set for 6:00 p.m.
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