The Michigan State Spartans baseball team’s season may be over already with a disappointing final record and no post-season appearance, but a number of players still earned Big Ten honors yesterday. The Big Ten Conference office announced season honors and five Spartans were named to various teams or honors for their performances on the field this season.
Sophomore infielder Mitch Jebb and graduate senior relief pitcher Kyle Bischoff were both named to the All-Big Ten Third Team, while redshirt-freshman catcher Bryan Broecker and freshman pitcher Ryan Szczepaniak were both garnered All-Freshman Team selections. Senior utility player Zach Iverson was MSU’s Sportsmanship Award honoree.
Jebb hails from Saginaw, Michigan and led MSU while ranking tied for eighth in the Big Ten with a .356 average. He also was top on the team and ranked fifth in the conference with 78 hits. Jebb’s 20 stolen bases also led the team while ranking eighth in the league and was top on the team in walks and sixth in the Big Ten with 38 walks. He also led the Big Ten and ranked 17th in the NCAA in toughest to strikeout - with just one strikeout every 13.7 At Bats - on just 16 Ks in 209 ABs. Jebb was named Big Ten Player of the Week on March 16,his first career conference weekly honor, for his performance during Michigan State’s four games during in Greenville, South Carolina March 7-13 at Fluor Field. He hit two home runs in the same game, including a leadoff HR and then a two-run walk-off HR, to cap the Spartan comeback in a 10-8 win over Cincinnati.
Bischoff, a Macomb native, completed his first season in East Lansing after transferring from Toledo. He led MSU and the Big Ten with 12 saves, ranking No. 2 on MSU’s single-season saves list. Jeff Kinley holds the record from 2014 when he made 13 saves. Bischoff had a 2-1 record, leading MSU with a 3.51 ERA, tallying 36 strikeouts in 41.0 IP. He earned back-to-back saves in MSU’s wins April 19 victory over Oakland and a night later over Eastern Michigan before later coming on as relief on April 24 against Northwestern with the bases loaded before pitching a career-high 6.1 IP en route to a Spartan victory. He added on more save April 27 in a Michigan State win over Purdue Fort Wayne. Bischoff was named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award Midseason Watch List.
Broecker hails from Chicago, Illinois and was the primary catcher for the Spartans this season. He led the Big Ten in caught stealing by grabbing 22 stolen base attempts, six more than the second spot. In league action, Broecker threw out 11 base stealing attempts, also leading the league and posting three more than the number two spot. Broecker hit .271 overall at the plate, ranking tied for fifth on the team while also ranking fourth in runs scored (31) and fifth in hits (48). He had a season long 12-game long reached base streak and a six-game hit streak.
Szczepaniak is another Michigan native on the roster, hailing from Woohaven. He posted a 4-3 overall record that shared the team lead in wins and ranked fifth on the team in both innings pitched (42.1) and appearances (16). Szczepaniak made eight starts and eight relief appearances while finishing with 35 strikeouts, good for sixth on the team. He also earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors on March 9 against West Virginia, a nationally-ranked squad, when he fired 5.0 IP with four strikeouts while allowing just three hits and one earned run. He allowed a leadoff single and a hit batter later in the first inning before then settling in and retiring seven Mountaineers to move to 2-0 on the season.
Iverson’s season was derailed by injuries, but he made four starts on the mound and saw action in two games at first base before an arm injury wrecked his season. The Charlotte, North Carolina native finished with 18 Ks in the four appearances after returning to action at designated hitter. He made 32 at bats with seven hits, one double and two RBI for a .219 average. His veteran leadership in the dugout and off the field, especially in the fact of injury, earned him the Big Ten Sportamnship award on the season.
This season’s five All-Big Ten honorees make it 54 total for head coach Jake Boss Jr. during his tenure in East Lansing. Michigan State also now tallies 23 total All-Freshman Team honorees with at least one being named since the award’s inception 13 years ago (no awards were given out in 2020 due to COVID-19 ending the season.
The Sparatns finished the season 24-30 overall with just an 8-16 league record in the Big Ten.