Michigan State entered the Richmond Spider Invitational on a three-game losing streak and left with a 2-1 record. In a weekend where every team was stacked with hitters the Spartans pitching performed very well (as I said they needed to in the preview).
Michigan State led off the series against Campbell, a game where they only allowed one run while adding 19 strikeouts. Starter Alex Troop punched out 10 guys in just five IP, he was then relieved by Jake Lowery who put out another eight K’s in four innings of work. Then the Spartans young closer, Riley McCauley, finally got the last strikeout in the bottom of the ninth to help seal a 3-1 victory.
The Spartans looked like they may revert back to old habits as they left runners on base in the first and third innings, thankfully they managed to put a few good innings together where three runs proved to be enough for the win.
Saturday vs Richmond the Spartans put on a show, they plated 13 runs and helped their Head Coach Jake Boss Jr get his 300th career win. Boss has been the head coach for Michigan State for nearly nine years now and if there is one thing he is known for it’s winning.
He has a record of 275-185 as head coach of the Spartans and an overall coaching record of 300-219.
Boss couldn’t have done it without his players, two guys really stepped up in this game that haven’t gotten much shine this season. Senior Taylor Grace, who was the designated hitter in this ball game absolutely crushed a three run homer that ended up kick starting Michigan State’s offense. Afterwards right fielder Dan Chmielewski hit a three run shot of his own while going 4-4 with five RBIs on the day.
To top it off Jake Boss gave freshman Mike Mokma his first career start, he ended up striking out two batters while allowing six hits and two runs. It was his first real starting experience here at Michigan State and he certainly didn’t do half bad. When Mokma was relieved, seniors Borkovich and Mockbee came in to help close the doors on a game that was long over.
The One Loss
Right-hander Andrew Gonzalez did everything in his power to keep Cornell at bay for as long as he could. Going 6.2 innings, giving up seven hits and only letting two runs cross the plate. Michigan State simply wasn't able to put enough offense together to help him out.
Cornell (who was likely the best team in the invitational other than Michigan State) threw the ball very well during Sunday’s game. Their starter Paul Balestrieri pitched a full seven innings where he shut the Spartans down as they had a season low four hits during his time on the mound. Paul is now 3-0 on the year and has an ERA of 0.93 after his victory.
Michigan State’s one mishap of the weekend doesn’t come without an asterisk, an ongoing problem all season has been runners left on base. After Cornell put two runs on the board the Spartans tried to answer right back, they had the bases juiced in the third inning but failed to do anything with it. Not surprisingly, Michigan State had the bases loaded again in the eighth but left with nothing to show for it as they once again failed to get a hit at the right time in a 2-1 loss.
Spartans Staying The Course
Regardless of the one loss Michigan State retained their reputation as a high powered offense over the weekend (especially Saturday). The guys definitely have the numbers to back it up.
- Alex Troop (P/1B): .389 (7-18), 2 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBIs
- Marty Bechina (3B): .379 (22-58), 3 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 11 RBIs
- Danny Gleaves (CF): .324 (22-68), 5 2B, 1 HR, 12 RBIs
- Dan Chmielewski (RF): .322 (19-59), 6 2B, 1 HR, 8 RBIs
- Dan Durkin (2B): .304 (21-69), 6 2B, 2 HR, 15 RBIs
- Michigan State gets back on track as far as winning goes but still lacked the “clutch gene” vs Cornell (which resulted in another loss). The Spartans loaded the bases twice but couldn’t drive a single run home.
- Dan Chmielewski comes alive (sort of). Dan has started 14 games and has played tremendous all year, it just took a big three run shot for people to notice.
- Jake Boss continues to win, capturing his 300th career victory and 275th as a Spartan. Secretly he wants 300 wins as a Spartan and plans on getting it this season which would make Michigan State’s record a ridiculous one (but hey who’s counting).
Michigan State was supposed to travel home for a few days rest before meeting Central Michigan for a little home game action Wednesday afternoon. The even better news is they moved the game to Tuesday at 4 p.m. due to weather conditions. So fans buckle up and drive on down to McLane Stadium it’s time to show out for our Spartans!