Michigan State baseball split a doubleheader against Ohio State on Saturday with both contests concluding with the mercy rule and being called in seven innings. MSU dropped the first game 13-2, but responded to winthe second game 16-3.
In the first game of the day, the Buckeye offense got started right away in the top of the first as junior outfielder Kade Kern ripped a double to right center to bring home the first run of the game. Freshman catcher Matthew Graveline added to the lead with a shot down the right field line to put Ohio State up 2-0.
Following a few quick innings for the Spartans, Ohio State posed another threat in the top of the third. After a throwing error by junior infielder Mitch Jebb, Kern reached first. Kern then stole both second and third base, allowing graduate first baseman and catcher Cole Andrews to single through the left side on a full count and bring the run home to make it 3-0.
MSU finally came alive in the bottom of the third. Redshirt freshman infielder Jacob Anderson tripled into the right center field gap to put a runner in scoring position with one out. Junior infielder Trent Farquhar then walked in a full count to put runners at the corners. Jebb came up in the next at bat, as he put the ball in play to bring Anderson home from third to make the score 3-1. Farquhar was gunned out at second, though Jebb reached first with a fielder’s choice.
Despite the run, the Spartans just couldn’t seem to find a solution to stop the Buckeyes. Senior infielder Nick Erwin doubled to left center field in the top of the fourth to put a runner in scoring position. Sophomore outfielder Trey Lipsey singled off the leg of junior pitcher Harrison Cook. Erwin then advanced to third, and eventually crossed home plate as a result of a fielding error by junior infielder Dillon Kark.
In the bottom half of the fourth inning, the Spartans put a touch of pressure back onto Ohio State. Redshirt sophomore catcher Bryan Broecker smoked a ball down the right field line to bring home another run to cut the lead to 4-2.
Cook’s day on the mound came to an end in the top of the fifth inning. Sophomore pitcher Ryan Szczepaniak came for support, but immediately gave up a double to sophomore infielder Tyler Pettorini to put a runner on second. Shortly after, Graveline hit a rope to left field for a home-run to give the Buckeyes two more runs.
Szczepaniak continued to struggle in the seventh, as he loaded the bases. He then walked Pettorini in a full count to bring yet another run home for Ohio State.
The same trend appeared in the eighth inning, as Erwin ripped a ball down the right field line for an RBI double. Senior outfielder Mitchell Okuley followed the double with a triple of his own to score two more runners, making the score 10-2 in favor of the Buckeyes. Pettorini then added another single to bring home Okuley and add an eleventh run. Ohio State added two more runs in the top of the inning thanks to a bases loaded walk and sacrifice fly.
The Spartans had absolutely no answer as they didn’t score since the fourth inning. The first game was ultimately called after the seventh inning.
To begin the second game, the Spartans loaded the bases, much differently from what was displayed earlier in the afternoon. With an immediate scoring chance, redshirt sophomore Sam Busch stood for a chance to bring home a run. Busch walked in a quick 4-0 count to put the Spartans in front early.
In the next at bat, Ohio State junior pitcher Josh Timmerman threw a wild pitch that allowed another runner to score. Broecker singled to center field in the next plate appearance for MSU. Timmerman was pulled from the game directly after as his day came to an end rather abruptly.
There was no slowing down for the Spartans in the first inning. Junior outfielder Jack Frank reached first on a fielder’s choice, and brought home another run to give MSU its fourth score. After Frank stole second base, Kark singled to right center for the fifth run in the first inning. With two outs, Farquhar added another single up the middle to make it 6-0 in the first.
The Buckeyes picked up where they left off in the first game in the top of the second. Okuley sent a fly ball deep enough to left field for a sacrifice fly, bringing home the Buckeyes’ first run of the game.
Michigan State was able to capitalize again in the bottom half of the inning, as Kark hit a home-run to left center field to give the Spartans an 8-1 lead early.
The offense continued to develop at an insane rate for both teams. Ohio State added a second run in the top of the third thanks to an RBI single from Pettorini. On the flip side of the half inning, the Spartans scored yet another run with a double steal, as Jebb stole second base and redshirt junior outfielder Greg Ziegler stole home to make it 9-2 in favor of the green and white.
Head Coach Jake Boss Jr. expressed his satisfaction with Kark’s explosive day, especially during the second game.
“Dillon [Kark] had a really good day today (Boss),” Boss said. He’s been playing really well all year long (Boss).”
Boss also added how Kark has been battling a hamstring injury, and the coaching staff wasn’t entirely sure what they would get out of him in the afternoon. It obviously held up, and Boss was grateful for the play Kark produced.
MSU once again loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth as Farquhar got hit by a pitch. In the next at bat, Jebb singled in between first and second to bring home two more runners and continue the theme of high scoring for the day. Junior infielder Brock Vradenburg got himself in on the action with a ground ball to third that became a fielder’s choice to extend the lead to ten runs for the Spartans.
In the bottom of the fifth, Kark doubled down the left field foul line, giving the Spartans another run for their 13th of the day. Senior outfielder Casey Mayes provided a double of his own to the opposite side of the field in right, bringing home two more runs. Farquhar’s hot day continued with another double for MSU bringing the run total all the way to sixteen in just the fifth inning.
The Buckeyes brought home their first run since the third in the top of the sixth. Pettorini tripled to leadoff the frame. Andrews then hit a deep fly ball to center that was far enough to bring home the run from third, and give Ohio State its third run.
Despite a few bursts from Ohio State in the second game, the Spartans cruised to a victory with a complete opposite result from the first game to take the series overall.
Boss commented on the offensive in an up and down performance, and how he viewed the production he got from his players.
“The offense kind of broke out of it there in game two today, which was good (Boss),” Boss said. I wouldn't say we've been on the skids offensively recently, it's been a little up and down, I think. But it feels good to put a big number out for sure (Boss).”
After all the years Boss has been at the helm, he doesn’t believe he has seen anything like the turnaround of scoring that the Spartans displayed in the afternoon. However, Boss gave lots of credit to his players for responding and he expressed how appreciative he was of the answer MSU gave.
Kark also explained how weird the day was for him and his teammates, including the offense in both games.
“It was a weird day (Kark),” Kark said. “You don't get to play 14 innings a doubleheader too often. We got our butt handed to us in the first game, but that's the beauty of baseball, you just have a short memory (Kark).”