After splitting the first two games of its series with Indiana State, Michigan State (7-22, 0-5 Big Ten) exploded with 14 hits and a 6-0 victory over Indiana State (23-6, 1-2 Missouri Valley) to take the weekend set.
The low-scoring series recorded four total runs until the Spartans were able to break the final game open, starting with freshman Casey Mayes’ two-run blast over the 385 sign in the bottom of the second.
The Spartans’ right fielder finished the game with three hits on four at bats and two RBI.
“The home run was a big one. Casey's a big strong kid and he got the barrel to the ball,” MSU coach Jake Boss said. “That got us going a little bit…. We hit balls hard all day long and didn't give a whole lot to show for it until maybe the sixth inning.”
Meanwhile, MSU received another pitching gem, this time from redshirt junior starter Caleb Sleeman, allowing only three hits in six and two-third innings of scoreless baseball.
After pitching five shutout innings, the right-hander found himself in a jam in the top of the sixth, with runners on first and second and one out. With his team ahead by two, Sleeman realized the importance of turning the ensuing double play.
“It was right there. I had to make sure I didn't miss it because that could have been a huge momentum swing right there,” Sleeman said. “I had a feeling that the game was going in our direction and I wanted to build off of that and help our guys in the dugout…”
The Spartans would give their starter some insurance in the bottom half of the sixth, as junior first baseman Justin Antoncic batted in the third run through the left side.
In the eighth, MSU would do more of the same to ensure Sleeman earned the victory when sophomore third baseman Zach Iverson hit a bases-clearing double to tack on three more runs.
“All we ask our guys to do is to make the routine play,” Boss said. “I think those double plays today were routine plays, ground balls that were hit right at us. And if we're going to be successful, we need to make those plays, and guys executed it today.
“I think we saw what we're capable of this weekend.”
The Spartans will look to take their hot bats into South Bend when they battle Notre Dame April 9 at 6:05 p.m.
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