Spartan Baseball Starts Strong With Doubleheader Sweep
Hondo S. Carpenter
The Michigan State baseball team and head coach Jake Boss have gotten off to a fast start. They are undefeated and on a roll.
Here is a super report on their sweep of a doubleheader on Saturday courtesy of Zach Fisher the MSU baseball SID
CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Using solid pitching all day, while both coming from behind late and leading big early, Michigan State baseball swept Morehead State, 5-2 and 5-3, Saturday afternoon at Shipyard Park in Charleston, S.C. Saturday's victories secured the series win for the Spartans entering Sunday's series finale.
This weekend is the first-ever meeting of the two MSUs, as Michigan State won Friday's opener, 15-3. The Spartans are off to a 3-0 start for the second time in the last four years, joining the 2017 Green & White squad, which started 6-0.
"I'm proud of our guys today," Spartan baseball head coach Jake Boss Jr. said. "Anytime you play 18 innings of baseball in one day, it's obviously a long day, but I thought our guys hung in there mentally and got a good win in game one against two really good arms for Morehead State. In-game two, we got some really, really good pitching and got a lead, and we were able to hold on to it."
In the opener, Michigan State trailed 1-0 until the seventh inning when the Spartans leveled it in the bottom of the frame before the Eagles retook the lead at 2-1 in the top of the eighth. The Green & White's deficit was short-lived as they erupted for four runs in the bottom of the eighth, to take the 5-2 win.
"I'm proud of how our guys battled today," Boss said. "We were down for most of the game and tied it, but then lost it on a home run that could have really taken the wind out of our sails late, but our guys kept scratching and clawing, and put up a big number late. They really executed the short game well and took advantage of some opportunities base-running and really produced late for us. I'm proud of them for that win, that was a really, really good win, and coming from behind against two really, really good arms was good to see."
Senior left-hander Jarret Olson started and went 5.0 IP with five strikeouts, before giving way to junior southpaw Jesse Heikkinen, who went 4.0 IP with five Ks and just one hit, in earning the win.
"In game one, I thought Jesse Heikkinen was as good as he's been here at Michigan State today, and Jarret Olson started and he's a competitor and threw well also. His pitch count got a little bit higher than we were hoping for at that point, but he battled and got himself out of a couple of jams, which is what competitors do. He maybe got a little unlucky in some spots, but was able to make big pitches when he needed to," Boss said.
At the plate, Michigan State was led by senior outfielder Bryce Kelley going 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored, adding one stolen base. Sophomore outfielder Casey Mayes was also 2-for-4 with an RBI. Sophomore first baseman Peter Ahn and senior infielder Bailey Peterson both had squeeze bunt RBI during Michigan State's four-run eighth inning.
In-game two, the Spartans got on the board early with a three-run second inning and hanging two more runs in the fourth. That was all that senior pitcher Sam Benschoter would need, as he fired a career-high nine strikeouts in just 5.0 innings of work. Benschoter gave way to freshman reliever Adam Berghorst in his Spartan baseball debut. The dual-sport athlete had already debuted in a Green & White uniform, playing for Michigan State football in the fall, and took the mound for his first official action in a Spartan baseball uniform. After some early jitters, Berghorst settled down and fired 4.0 innings with two Ks, yielding just one hit and one unearned run.
"I thought all of our guys threw well. Sam was outstanding today. He hasn't started since his sophomore season, but was really, really good today," Boss said. "Adam Berghorst was in is first collegiate outing and was also outstanding. It was good day from the guys on the mound. We've thrown it really, really well on the mound in the first two games, and hopefully, that continues tomorrow."
MSU's offense was boosted in the second game by junior third baseman Zach Iverson, going 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. Kelley also went 2-for-4, finishing the day 5-for-8 at the plate, adding another stolen base in the second game. Junior outfielder Danny Gleaves drew two walks and tallied two runs, along with swiping one bag.
Michigan State capped a day in which they used two squeeze bunts to score, along with rapping out 15 hits on the day, including three extra-base hits with two doubles, from Kelley and Mayes, along with a triple by Iverson. The Spartans also swiped four bases in the twin bill, with two by Kelley to go with one each by Gleaves and Peterson.
"We've got to do what we need to do to push some runs across and they guys executed really well. I was disappointed with some of the strikeouts in game two, we need to be a little bit better at the plate moving the baseball and getting guys in when they're in scoring position. But whenever you walk away from a doubleheader, regardless of who you play, it's a good day."
The Spartans and Eagles wrap up the series with a single game on Sunday, Feb. 16 at 12 p.m.
"It's just about winning tomorrow, it's not about a sweep or anything, we've got to be ready to play," Boss said. "Morehead State is going to be ready to play, so we've got to play well. We've got a senior going on the mound for us in Caleb Sleeman, who has a lot of experience for us, so I like our guys and I like our chances, but we've got to play well. They've got a good one on the mound tomorrow too, so it will be about who executes the best."
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