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Michigan State baseball comes alive mid-game for win in season home opener

March 22, 2023
<p>Junior Dillon Kark dives headfirst back to first base, beating the pickoff attempt by Western Michigan. The Spartans would go on to win their home opener 8-3 on March 22, 2023</p>

Junior Dillon Kark dives headfirst back to first base, beating the pickoff attempt by Western Michigan. The Spartans would go on to win their home opener 8-3 on March 22, 2023

After 17 out-of-state games, Michigan State opened its home season by facing Western Michigan, taking the matchup 8-3. The game was the fourth-earliest home-opener in program history after MSU and WMU swapped their home-and-home schedule. 

The Spartans got off to a slow offensive start. The first wave of anticipation was felt in the bottom of the first inning when Michigan State loaded the bases with two outs, but junior right fielder Jack Frank struck out swinging and they were unable to snag an early lead. 

The Broncos put up the first points in the second inning with an RBI single. The scoreboard remained unchanged until the fourth inning.  

Redshirt sophomore pitcher Dominic Pianto took the mound at the top of the fourth and the Spartans proceeded to give up two runs. WMU senior middle infielder Jimmy Allen hit a strong drive that bounced before senior left fielder Casey Mayes, sending one over home plate. Another scored on a pop fly caught and the inning ended with the Broncos up 3-0 after the Spartans were unable to get on base.

But Michigan State heated up in the fifth inning. Junior infielder Dillon Kark found a sweet spot in left-center field for a single. The team scored its first point when a pitch hit MSU junior infielder Trent Farquhar with the bases loaded. A fumbled ground ball and a double play by the Broncos managed to send two more Spartans home before their bat was over — tying the game. 

An RBI single in the sixth inning prompted the Broncos to switch pitchers for the second time that inning. WMU sophomore pitcher Joe Shapiro took the mound in an unsuccessful attempt to cool off the Spartans’ bats. Farquhar swiftly hit a double that brought in two more runs. Junior infielder Brock Vradenburg nailed a single between the third baseman and shortstop for another run before ending the inning up by four runs.

The Broncos were timid of Vradenburg, choosing to intentionally walk him in the seventh inning. Michigan State head men's baseball coach Jake Boss Jr. noted his performance after the game. 

"You're starting to see guys like Sam Bush, has really taken a big step, Brock Vradenburg has really taken a big step," Boss said. "Having that in the middle of the order is really important for us." 

The bottom of the eighth brought home another run for Michigan State as the Broncos struggled to find any of the early offensive heat they had. 

The Spartans took the game after a quick ninth inning. They will host Purdue on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the Big Ten Conference opener for both teams.

"Purdue is very well-coached, they play a good schedule, so it's gonna be a good ball club coming in here," Boss Jr. said. "Purdue is gonna be good and ... We're gonna have to be at our best this weekend." 

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