Spartans Deal Third Straight Shutout in 15-0 Victory
MSU Downs Illinois State 15-0.
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. –The Michigan State baseball team defeated Illinois State 15-0 on Tuesday afternoon in Port Charlotte, Fla., as part of the Snowbird Classic. For the third straight game, the Spartans held their opponent scoreless, marking the first time since 1979 that an MSU team has recorded three consecutive shutouts. Michigan State held the Redbirds to just one hit on the game, while the offensive exploded for 15 runs on 19 hits.
“Those guys are throwing strikes and getting ahead in the count and locating,” said head coach Jake Boss. “They’re doing everything that we ask them to do right now. (Pitching Coach Skylar) Meade has done a great job with them and they’re very receptive. It’s a group that continues to learn and continues to want to get better.”
Starter Andrew Gonzalez worked seven scoreless innings, allowing just one hit while striking out five.
“I thought Andrew was really good today,” said Boss. “He was in command the whole way. He was in control of both sides of the plate and had great command of all three of his pitches. He made a lot of big pitches when he needed to.”
The Spartans entered the game with a team ERA of 1.58 that ranked fourth in the nation and lowered that even further to 1.42 with another shutdown performance.
Michigan State’s offense got things started right away in the first to jump out to an early 1-0 lead. Jordan Zimmerman hit his fifth double of the year and then Brandon Hughes knocked him home with his 11th RBI of the season.
MSU added three more in the third on a two-RBI single from Zimmerman and an RBI single from Alex Troop that scored Brandon Hughes to open up a 4-0 lead.
The Redbirds only hit of the afternoon came on a one-out double in the fourth. Gonzalez put down the next two batters and continued to roll from there as the Spartan lead continued to grow.
“I had a lot of my pitches working today,” said Gonzalez.” Really good defense behind me and you can’t lose with sticks like that hitting for you. I felt good all day long. With run support like we have, it’s hard to be nervous out there. You know your team has your back and you know they’re going to hit, so that allows me to settle in and feel a lot better. I was just trying to be efficient and throw a lot of strikes.”
The Spartans added three more in the fifth and then batted around in the seventh, scoring the first five hitters that stepped up to the plate.
Zimmerman, Hughes and Troop combined to go 11-for-15 at the plate with 10 runs scored and seven RBIs.
“Those are the middle of the order guys and that’s what we need them to do,” said Boss. “Big days for all three of them. I thought our two-strike approach was good all day long. They made some pretty good pitches and we were able to put some pressure on them and put the ball in play and make some things happen.”
Troop led the way with a career-high four RBIs, while Dan Durkin and Justin Hovis each added three. Five different Spartans recorded multiple hits.
MSU returns to action tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. ET vs. Florida Gulf Coast.