Now that the NCAA basketball tournaments are in the books and the weather in mid Michigan has become more hospitable, MSU fans’ attention can now turn to Old College Field, where the baseball and softball teams are entering the later portion of their seasons after starting their seasons south of the Mason-Dixon line.
Over the weekend, both squads had 3 game sets at home, with baseball sweeping the Leathernecks of Western Illinois, and softball going 1-2 in a Big Ten series against Minnesota.
MSU baseball continued their fiery month of April, stepping out of Big Ten play to take on the Western Illinois Leathernecks. WIU hadn’t faced the Spartans since 2006, and after this weekend’s series, they’d probably like to wait another 17 years to repeat the experience. On Friday, the Spartans fell behind early, trailing Western Illinois 8-3 in the sixth inning. MSU’s offense caught fire, scoring 2 in the sixth, then 5 in the seventh, winning the ballgame 10-9. Bryan Broecker, the Spartans catcher, hit two home runs - his fifth and sixth of the year.
On Saturday, the two teams played a doubleheader as the threat of storms forced the rescheduling of the anticipated Sunday afternoon game.The early game featured a solid outing from starting pitcher Harrison Cook, who went 6 and ⅔ giving up 2 runs, a walk, and 3 strikeouts. The Spartans opened the scoring in the third inning, and built up an 8 run lead before Western Illinois answered. The Spartans scored 4 in the bottom of the seventh, making it 12-2, ending the game by run rule.
In the second game of the twinbill, MSU’s offense stayed hot, as Bryan Broecker had 4 hits, 2 RBI and another home run before Jack Frank added another homer immediately afterward. A healthy crowd filled McLane Stadium after the football spring practice ended, and they were gifted an impressive performance from starting pitcher Nick Powers, who was in the game into the eighth inning before rain delayed the action. The Spartans came back from the delay scoring 1 run, winning 11-1 on the run rule under the lights.
VICTORY FOR MSU!!!— Michigan State Baseball (@MSUBaseball) April 15, 2023
Final score of G2:
Michigan State 11, Western Illinois 1 - 8 inn.
Spartans with 2nd run-rule win of the day to complete the weekend sweep over the Leathernecks!!
MSU has won 6 in a row overall, including now 10-2 in DHs!!#VictoryForMSU | #SpartanStrong pic.twitter.com/LgJI8QnNhv
MSU baseball is on a 6 game winning streak, and has been incredibly hot since making the trip north to East Lansing, as they are 23-10, sitting second in the Big Ten standings. The Spartans take on Purdue-Fort Wayne on Wednesday night at McLane Stadium before their weekend series against Michigan in Ann Arbor starting Friday.
MSU softball took on Minnesota, going 1-2 against the Gophers in their Friday-Saturday series. New Head Coach Sharonda McDonald-Kelley has had a bumpy first season in East Lansing, entering the weekend 11-22 overall and 1-9 in Big Ten play.
In Friday’s opener, Minnesota opened the scoring in the second inning with a 7 spot, and the rout was on from there. The Spartans scored their only run in the bottom of the third, then the Gophers scored 5 more in the seventh to make it 13-1.
Like baseball, softball’s schedule was shifted to accommodate Sunday’s impending bad weather, and the Gophers and Spartans played a doubleheader. In the first game, Minnesota opened the scoring again with a pair of runs in the top of the first. They scored another 3 in the fifth, and the final score was 5-0.
In the finale, the Gophers again scored 2 in the first, but that was all Minnesota could muster, as the Spartans answered with 2 of their own in the third. In the sixth, the Spartans got out of a major jam, then MSU got the walk off win as Mandy Esman scored on a Gopher error.
After the Minnesota series, MSU sits at 12-24 overall, 2-11 in Big Ten play. On Tuesday, they’ll travel to Ann Arbor for a rivalry game against Michigan that will be live on BTN. Next weekend, they travel to Champaign for a three game set against Illinois.