The Spartans (11-27, 1-10 Big Ten) took the 12-2 win against Oakland (10-27, 8-10 Horizon League) on April 23. Lead by freshman right hand pitcher Colten Panaranto’s seven strikeouts and an eighth inning spurt fueled the Spartans to take the first of five home games this week.
“I’m happy with the outcome,” MSU coach Jake Boss said. “I thought we left some chances out there early in the game, but we’re showing some signs of… breaking out a little bit today.”
Michigan State started off strong with Panaranto’s strike-out on Oakland’s senior in-fielder Mike McGee. The Spartans were able to hold the Golden Grizzlies scoreless in the first.
“I knew I could go out there and could throw well for our team to give us the win,” Panaranto said.
The bottom of the first played into the Spartans favor as they capitalized on Oakland’s inexperience at the mound, gaining two straight walks for juniors left fielder Bryce Kelley and infielder Justin Antoncic, but were unable to score.
The second inning favored Oakland after Panaranto threw three walks that eventually led to a Jace Matkin hit that resulted in a pair of runs before the end of the second.
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the second, Antoncic’s double sent both Zaid Walker and Adam Proctor home. The Spartans also added another run from Zach Iverson, putting the score at 3-2 at the end of two.
Panaranto’s strong third inning resulted in a quick three strikeouts that set up the Spartans for a scoreless third inning.
“It felt really good once I started getting into the game, getting a flow for it. I just kind of settled down and get back in the zone.”
In the fourth, the bases were loaded for the Spartans, but they were unable to utilize their advantage with inconsistency having been a continuous struggle for this year’s roster.
In the bottom of the fifth, an Iverson double lead to another pair of runs for MSU from Casey Mayes and Walker, putting the Spartans on top 5-2 to start the sixth inning.
Kelley had a midfield save to secure the first out in the sixth, a play that would send the Golden Grizzlies into a downward spiral that resulted in another scoreless inning.
Iverson scored on a Kelley single, putting the Spartans up 6-2 to start the top of the eighth.
The eighth inning became interesting after senior infielder Marty Bechina was able to steal both second and third base before scoring on a Royce Ando single. A Walker single sent both Ando and Mayes in for the pair of runs. An Adam Proctor home-run sent both Peter Ahn and Walker home, tallying a total of six runs in the eighth.
“We got better as the game went on which is a good sign,” Boss said. “Now the challenge is to carry it over into tomorrow.”
The Spartans ended on an inning with Iverson at the mound and sealed the deal after he threw a pair of strikeouts.
Panaranto finished the night with 111 pitches over the span of seven innings, setting a career high.
The Spartans will host Toledo on April 24, with first pitch thrown at 6:35 p.m.