After an evenly contested couple of innings, Michigan State took a 5-3 lead over Oakland in the third and never looked back. Strong pitching from freshman Nolan Higgins silenced the Golden Grizzlies' bats during the middle innings and the Spartans slowly built a comfortable lead as the game progressed, culminating in a 8-3 victory.
Junior first baseman Brock Vrandenburg’s bat was on fire for all nine innings. He slashed 4-5, notching two singles, two triples and two RBIs on the night. Vrandenburg’s first and only out of the night was a fly out in the bottom of the eighth.
“There’s always a threat for some type of extra base hit and RBI every time he steps tot he plate,” Head baseball coach Jake Boss said. “He’s hitting the ball really hard right now. He gave away a couple of at bats maybe last night, but tonight you saw kind of what he’s been like a majority of the year.”
Redshirt junior starting pitcher Brian Martin pitched for three innings, notching one strikeout and giving up four hits, a pair of walks and three earned runs in the process. Higgins took over the mound to start the fourth. He pitched a strong four innings, allowing no runs and allowing just two hits. Higgins finished with six strikeouts and four walks.
“He’s got swing and miss stuff for sure,” Boss said. “He’s got a bright future for us, because there’s life to the fastball. The slider is really good, and when he can kind of corral that and keep it close to the strike zone, he’s going to get a lot of guys out.”
Senior pitcher Andrew Carson closed the game for MSU, taking Higgin’s place at the top of the eighth.
Oakland took an early lead at the top of the first. Brandon Nigh cracked an RBI double to left field, sending home a previously walked batter and putting the Golden Grizzlies on top 1-0.
The Spartans answered at the bottom of the same inning. Oakland issued a pair of walks, and a single from Vradenburg loaded up the bases. Oakland’s Lake Matthaidess balked with junior outfielder Jack Frank at the plate, sending a runner home and knotting up the game at 1-1.
Oakland retook its lead at the top of the second. A lead-off double, a walk and a groundout quickly put a pair of runners in scoring position. An ensuing flyout put the Golden Grizzlies at two outs, giving Martin and the Spartans an opportunity to escape the jam.
However, OU’s Ian Cleary snuck a hit past the third baseman and shortstop in left field, notching a two RBI single and taking a 3-1 lead in the process.
Again, it didn’t take long for a response from Michigan State. This time, though, the bats were red hot. Vradenburg cleared two runners off the base with no outs, re-tying the game. The Spartans tacked on a pair of runs to close out the third inning, taking a 5-3 lead, their first of the game.
MSU added to its lead in the fifth. Vradenburg cracked his second triple of the game to leadoff; a groundout from redshirt sophomore infielder Sam Busch sent him home.
The runs kept coming for MSU in the ensuing inning. Vradenburg, junior infielder Mitch Jebb and junior infielder Trent Farquhar each notched a single as Frank knocked a double on route to a two-run inning for Michigan State.
The final three innings of the game were scoreless and Michigan State sent Oakland packing with a comfortable 8-3 victory.