Michigan State baseball swept the Minnesota Gophers in a three game weekend series in East Lansing. The Spartans are now on a six game winning streak, standing at 21-21 overall and 6-9 in conference play this season.
The Spartans took the first game 8-4 on Friday thanks to some power hitting from junior outfielder Zaid Walker and sophomore outfielder Jack Frank. Walker's two-run shot and Frank's solo home run along with a solid performance from junior starting pitcher Conner Tomasic, who went 6.1 innings and only allowed a single run, was more than enough to lift MSU to victory.
Although the second game of the series had less scoring, Michigan State head coach Jake Boss was proud of the way his team fought to take the second game of the series 2-1.
"(I'm) really pleased with how we played today," Boss said. "You know we played really good on the mound, very clean defensively and it was a good college baseball game."
Sophomore infielder Mitch Jebb got the scoring started by hitting a leadoff solo home run over the left field wall to put the Spartans up 1-0 just three pitches into the game.
However, the Gophers came ready with answer in the top of the second inning. Redshirt sophomore infielder Kyle Bork singled to left through the gap between the third baseman and shortstop, followed by a double off the right field wall by senior catcher Chase Stanke to put runners on second and third. Freshman infielder Brady Counsell then singled to left to score Bork and tying the game at 1-1.
The Spartans struck back in the bottom of the third. Jebb and sophomore infielder Trent Farquhar pulled off a double steal, advancing to third and second respectively. Junior outfielder Casey Mayes then legged out a single to left with two outs to put his team back on top 2-1.
"We just wanted the guys to get moving and try to create as much pressure as we can and we got some guys that are pretty athletic that are able to do a lot of different things and they're comfortable running and when they get good jumps a lot of them have the freedom to go and that's what happened," Boss said.
Redshirt junior pitcher Wyatt Rush got the start for the Spartans, going 2.2 innings and allowing three hits and one run before MSU decided to go to the bullpen. Sophomore pitcher Nick Powers took it from there, pitching the next 4.1 innings before they called in graduate student pitcher Kyle Bischoff to close the door on the Gophers.
"I thought that Wyatt did a nice job," Boss said. "The idea was really to try and get him through three innings and essentially that happened. I think he went two and a third but Nick came in and threw one pitch and he did exactly what we asked him to. We kind of though it might be a bullpen type of day and I thought all three of those guys were. outstanding."
The Spartans completed the sweep on Sunday with a 9-7 victory over the Gophers. They found themselves on the wrong side of 3-0 deficit early on, but were able to fight their way out of it with a four run fifth inning to lead 4-3
Minnesota however, wasn't ready to go down without a fight and answered with a four run inning as well to take the lead back in the top of the seventh inning 7-4. MSU then scored on an error in the bottom of the seventh to bring the game within two runs, and then had yet another four run inning in the bottom of the eighth to reclaim the lead and ultimately win the game 9-7.
MSU will now look to extend their winning streak when they travel to Penn State on Friday May 6 for a three game series in Happy Valley.
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