Spartans Hold Off Boilermakers, 5-3

MSU improves to 7-1 in B1G play.

The Michigan State baseball team defeated Purdue, 5-3, on Saturday afternoon in West Lafayette, Indiana. The Spartans improve to 7-1 in Big Ten play and 25-6 overall, while starter Ethan Landon earned the win and is now 4-1 on the season.

The Spartans had to work out of tight spots in each of the last four innings, as Purdue loaded the bases twice and had runners on second and third in the other two innings.

“Our defense played really well today,” said head coach Jake Boss Jr. “We put ourselves in a couple tough jams. We got a big play out of Kory Young on diving play up the middle. Justin Hovis made a few nice plays as well and no errors for us. We pride ourselves on defense and that’s what it came down to.”

Reliever Dakota Mekkes came on in relief in the fifth and threw 81 pitches to close out the final 3.1 innings and earn his fifth save of the season. The redshirt sophomore allowed one run on three hits with five strikeouts.

“It’s not what he’s used to having to pitch,” said Boss. “His pitch count was high unfortunately, but we thought it was a good matchup, especially in the ninth. We had Joe Mockbee ready, but in the end, we liked the matchups Dakota had.”

Michigan State picked up a much needed insurance run in the sixth to extend the lead to 4-1. Brandon Hughes got things started with a bunt single and eventually came around to score on a squeeze bunt executed by Kris Simonton for his second RBI of the afternoon.

MSU had to work out of jams in the sixth and seventh innings, but surrendered runs in both frames, shrinking the lead to 4-3. After Purdue scored on an RBI single in the sixth, Dakota Mekkes came on in relief with runners on second and third and got a groundout to get out of the inning.  The Boilermakers then loaded the bases in the seventh and generated one run on a walk before Mekkes got a strikeout to end the threat.

“Well, we had to find a way to win,” said Boss. “Probably weren’t at our best. 11 walks is uncharacteristic of our guys. But again, we didn’t make any errors we avoided the big inning which was huge. We kept their scoring opportunities to one run a piece.”

Landon finished with a final line of 5.1 innings pitched, allowing two runs on one hit with two strikeouts and five walks.

Purdue drew a pair of two out walks to put the tying runner in scoring position in the eighth, but Mekkes picked up his fourth strikeout of the game to preserve the lead. In the ninth, the Boilermakers loaded the bases again, but Mekkes got another strikeout to end the rally and give the Spartans the win.

MSU got on the board first on a Kory Young RBI in the third that scored Justin Hovis and put MSU up 1-0.

The Boilermakers responded in the home half of the inning to tie the game up, but the Spartans tacked on two more in the top of the fourth to jump out to a 3-1 lead.  Hughes and Taylor Grace both reached and scored on RBIs by Simonton and Hovis.

Four Spartans had multiple hits on the afternoon, led by Hovis, who finished the day 3-for-3 at the plate with one run and one RBI. The Spartans outhit the Boilermakers 13-6 for the game.

Jordan Zimmerman then smacked his second double of the day in the top of the ninth to plate Marty Bechina and tack on an insurance run that made it 5-3.