MSU got back into action on Wednesday afternoon, playing their fifth game in the last six days. And after a marginal 1-0 loss to Notre Dame on Tuesday, the Spartans rebounded against Western Michigan to improve to 26-8 on the season and defeated the Broncos by a final score of 6-5.
Western started their scoring effort right out of the gates in the top of the first inning. Junior second baseman Nick Vogelmeier and senior left fielder Drew Farmer led the inning off with back to back doubles to score the run, making it 1-0 in the Broncos’ favor.
The Spartans struck back in the bottom half of the second inning with three runs of their own, making it a 3-1 game. Sophomore catcher Chad Roskelly, senior third baseman Justin Hovis and sophomore shortstop Kory Young all reached to start the inning, and with the bases loaded junior first baseman Jordan Zimmerman walked to tie it up. The next batter, sophomore center fielder Brandon Hughes took the lead with a single to right, scoring two runs.
In the top of the fourth inning, Western scored two runs to tie the game 3-3. Senior first baseman Hunter Prince walked and junior right fielder Alex Goodwin bunted his way on to put runners at first and second with only one man out. One batter later, sophomore center fielder Tanner Allison doubled to score both runners, but was thrown out at third base.
MSU reclaimed the lead in the bottom half of the sixth with a run to make it a 4-3 game. Roskelly got things started when he reached base on an error by the shortstop and advanced to second on a wild pitch. The next batter, Hovis, hit a sharp single into center, which scored Roskelly.
The Spartans manufactured another run for insurance to make it 5-3. Hughes led the inning off with a walk and then stole second. Hughes advanced to third on a groundout by freshman outfielder Marty Bechina and later scored on an infield single hit by Kris Simonton.
Western wouldn't go out quietly, though, in the ninth inning Prince led the inning off with a home run off of sophomore Jake Lowery to make it 5-4. Lowery then walked freshman catcher Jesse Forstell, and he would advance to second on a wild pitch. One batter later, freshman shortstop Connor Smith hit a line drive single to score the run and tie the game 5-5.
MSU relied on the late inning heroics of junior DH Matt Byars who delivered the game-winning hit in the bottom of the ninth. Back to back walks put Hughes and Durkin on with nobody out. The next batter Bechina bunted down the third base line to move the runners up for Simonton. Simonton was intentionally walked and Byars hit a base knock to right to deliver the win in walk-off fashion.
The Spartan starter, sophomore Andre Gonzalez lasted 6.0 innings, while giving up three earned on six hits. Gonzalez walked three and struck out four.
Next up, the Spartans will welcome Indiana into town for a three game weekend series. The Hoosiers will come to McLane with a 6-3 conference record, good enough for fifth place in the Big Ten standings. First pitch for game one will be set for Friday afternoon at 3:05 p.m.
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