How did the Michigan State Spartan baseballers do doing a challenging opening weekend? Let's check out the results...
In their season opener on Friday against the University New Mexico, (a team which many have predicted as this year's likely Mountain West Conference champion), MSU fell behind 2-0 in the first inning but came back to take the lead in the top of the 5th on the first homerun of the Spartans' season, a solo shot from Cam Gibson, which put the Spartans up 3-2. New Mexico fought back in the bottom of the 5th using a strikeout on which New Mexico reached base, a sacrifice bunt, and then a RBI single by New Mexico second baseman Sam Haggerty to tie the score. The game entered the 8th inning tied at 3, thanks to the relief of Michigan State sophomore lefthander Joe Mockbee who came on in the bottom of the seventh, with New Mexico runners on 1st and 2nd, and got New Mexico clean-up hitter, DH Chris DeVito, to bounce into a fielder's choice.
MSU took the lead in the top of the eighth, plating two runs with sacrifice fly RBIs from first baseman Ryan Krill and then center fielder Anthony Cheky. Michigan State tacked on four more runs in the top of the 9th to increase their lead to 9 to 3 and Mockbee, who retired all seven batters he faced, which included 4 strikeouts in-a-row, closed out the win in the season opener for the Spartans. Starring for the Spartans in their opener were junior outfielder Cam Gibson who went 3 for 4 with a homerun and stolen base, 5th year senior third baseman, and first year Spartan, Mark Weist, who went 4 for 5 and scored 3 runs, and senior shortstop Ryan Richardson who had 3 hits and 2 RBIs.
In Saturday's game against recent NCAA baseball power Oregon State, the Spartans again fell behind 2-0 but battled back to tie the score 3-3 in the top of the eighth inning on a sacrifice fly from clean-up hitter Mark Weist. The game went into extra innings where, in the bottom of the 10th, Oregon State sophomore outfielder Kyle Nobach singled in the winning run off of Spartans senior closer Jeff Kinley for a 4-3 win. Spartan starter Cam Vieaux went 5 innings striking out 4 giving up 2 earned runs while scattering 6 hits. Cam Gibson went 2 for 5, scored two runs, and tripled for MSU.
In Sunday's game against Big Ten foe Northwestern, the Spartans scored two unearned runs, one in the 4th and in the 5th to go up 2-0. Northwestern fought back to tie the score in the top of the seventh but then Michigan State scored another unearned run in the bottom of the inning with the go-ahead run brought in by a sacrifice fly from Mark Weist. Closer Jeff Kinley pitched the final 2 and 1/3rd innings to pick up the win, and came on in the seventh to get a key out when, with Northwestern runners on 1st and 3rd, two outs, and the score tied at 2-2, Kinley got a ground out to get the Spartans out of the jam. Starter Anthony Misiewicz went 6 solid innings for the Spartans striking out 6 and only surrendering 3 hits.
For the weekend series...
Cam Gibson went 6 for 12 on the opening weekend and scored 5 runs for the Spartans. Mark Weist went 5 for 11 on the weekend and picked up two key RBIs, and freshman outfielder Brandon Hughes drove in 4 runs over the three game set. The Spartans' bullpen did a fine job in helping MSU get off to a promising two-wins-in-three-game's start, with five MSU relievers combining to pitch 13 innings with 13 strikeouts while only giving up 3 runs.
Up next, the Spartans head to Arlington, Texas for the UT Arlington Hilton Invitational where they will play a weekend series against Houston Baptist, UT Arlington, and Southeastern Louisiana.