The Michigan State baseball team (8-7) ended their home-opening three-game weekend with a Sunday doubleheader against Houston Baptist (6-13) after their Saturday meeting was postponed due to the inclement and ever-changing mitten state weather.
Final score: MSU 1, HBU 0.
The first game was nothing short of unexpected. The first seven and a half innings went scoreless. Zero. Zip. Zilch on bringing home any players from either side. The crowd was getting sleepier with each rotation, until sophomore infielder Trent Farquhar walked up to bat in the bottom of the eighth for the third time in the game.
And hey, third time's the charm, right?
Farquhar homered the ball out to right center field, running himself in a circle to finally put a tick on the scoreboard. He also collected five assists for a 30.8% batting average.
On the other end of things, sophomore left-handed pitcher Nick Powers pitched 6.1 innings, allowing only six hits with 23 batters faced. He tallied in five strikeouts, one walk, one extra base hit, four flyouts and six groundouts for 78 total pitches and 48 total strikes and an earned run average, or ERA, or 3.04.
Powers was swapped out in the middle of the sixth for junior right-handed pitcher Andrew Carson. Carson struggled a little more, tallying two strikeouts and one walk with only six batters faced. While he didn't allow any hits, he threw 27 total pitches and 15 total strikes and an ERA of 4.91.
Final score: MSU 6, HBU 5.
The second game of the doubleheader had significantly more action than the first.
The Huskies got the scoring started in the top of the first inning when junior catcher Parker Edwards doubled to bring home senior outfielder Lane Botkin who had gotten himself in excellent scoring position by stealing third moments before.
Down by one, the Spartans needed to answer but went down without so much as a hit in the bottom of the first. Junior outfielder Zaid Walker got the Spartan bats going with a quick single and then immediately stole second to get into scoring position. Sophomore infielder Dillon Kark then sent him home with an RBI single to tie the game at 1-1.
He and redshirt junior infielder Peter Ahn found themselves at second and third not long after with redshirt freshman catcher Christian Williams stepping up to the plate to send them both home on an RBI single to put MSU up 3-1, but the Spartans weren't done there. Farquhar singled to bring Williams home at put them up 4-1, their largest lead of the game.
"We just say keep chopping," Williams said. "That's one thing we've been saying all year, kind of took it from the football team, but just keeping that momentum going, keep working hard and good things will happen."
In the top of the fourth however, the Huskies struck back, adding two more runs off of MSU's freshman right handed pitcher Ryan Szczepaniak, ultimately knocking him out of the game. Edwards followed up with another RBI double to bring another run home to cut MSU's lead to two and then later scored after junior infielder Reed Chumley grounded into a double play to cut the lead to one. Redshirt junior right handed pitcher Wyatt Rush was then called in by the Spartans to get the final out of the inning.
The pitching changes didn't stop there. Each team used five different pitchers in the second game of the doubleheader.
MSU continued to lead 4-3 until the bottom of the seventh inning when Farquhar singled and a run was able to score due to a throwing error from HBU's junior right handed pitcher Tyler Zarella, putting the Spartans up 5-3.
All was going well for MSU until the top of the eighth inning. The Spartans were ready to close out the inning, only needed one more out and it appeared to be coming in a ground ball hit to Farquhar. However, he bobbled it and two HBU runs were able to score due to the error, tying the game at 5-5.
Looking for some late inning heroics, the Spartans went to work. Williams hit a single up the middle to get on base to get the bats going and then with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Farquhar also singled up the middle, advancing Williams to third and bringing junior outfielder Casey Mayes to the plate. He hit a ground ball to the HBU shortstop who couldn't handle it and Williams scored, winning the game for the Spartans 6-5.
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"It feels great," Michigan State Baseball Head Coach Jake Boss said. "You try to get some momentum moving forward as we get closer to Big Ten play so we need to play well on Wednesday against IPFW here and then you got a very good Illinois team coming in next week. This is a game of momentum and when you're feeling good you usually play well and we need to carry that forward into next week and beyond."
The Spartans advance to 10-7 and will host Indiana-Purdue University of Fort Wayne (1-16) next on Wednesday. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 p.m.
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