FINAL: Michigan State edges out victory over Eastern Michigan
Michigan State (9-26, 0-8 Big Ten) ended up battling themselves as well as the elements Wednesday, but they were able to hold on for a 5-3 victory over Eastern Michigan (8-28, 3-9 MAC).
The Spartans were in rare form early, scoring two quick runs in the first inning. Senior shortstop Marty Bechina lined to left field on a 1-2 count to initiate the first of multiple two-out rallies for MSU. After Bechina stole second, two consecutive walks from senior Royce Ando and sophomore Adam Proctor led freshman Zaid Walker up to the plate with the bases loaded. The right fielder’s double down the right field line giving the Spartans the early 2-0 advantage.
After a weather delay postponed the start of the fourth, the Spartans would add to the lead in the bottom of the fifth, this time with Ando doing his part with the bat. His two out, two RBI single put the Spartans up 4-0 as he drove in what would eventually represent the winning run.
Eastern Michigan would threaten to tie the contest in the 7th. The Spartans’ right-hander Sam Benschoter allowed two hits and committed a throwing error to load the bases. He compounded the jam by walking in Eastern Michigan’s first run of the contest.
MSU coach Jake Boss called on lefthander Evan Flohr who worked out of the jam, but not before Eastern Michigan tacked on two more runs to make it a 4-3 game.
“We were having success all night at the plate, so we weren't really too worried because we knew we were going to add a couple and just pad lead a little bit,” Proctor said. “But I feel like we did a good job as a team after the error and then after the passed ball just to refocus and battle back and chip away, getting the outs and getting out of the bases-loaded of jam.”
Pad the lead they would in the bottom half of the inning, as Bechina advanced to second after being hit by a pitch, Proctor drove Bechina in to score and extended the lead to 5-3 which would hold for the victory.
MSU starter and junior Caleb Sleeman had two strike outs on two hits through two scoreless innings of work but exited the game after narrowly escaping a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the second.
Sophomore lefthander Jesse Heikkinen earned the victory after taking over for Sleeman in the third, pitching four scoreless innings on four strike outs.
Junior Indigo Diaz came in to close and would earn the save.
“We got some timely hits. We put some tentative swings in some at-bats early in the game,” Boss said. “But I thought as the game kind of wore on, we swung a little bit better. It was a good night. Anytime you win it's a good night.”
MSU will look to string two consecutive wins against Indiana on Friday at 6:35 p.m. at McLane Stadium.