Spartans Take Series From Michigan With 7-4 Win on Sunday
ANN ARBOR – The Michigan State baseball team topped No. 16 Michigan, 7-4, on Sunday in Ann Arbor to take two of three games from the Wolverines in the weekend series. Jordan Zimmerman (2-for-4) and Dan Durkin (3-for-4) both had multiple hits while five different Spartans drove in runs. With the win MSU improved to 30-11 overall and 10-5 in the Big Ten.
“It was a really competitive series with two good ballclubs going back and forth,” said MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. “I’m just proud of our guys. I thought every time we needed to make a big play, we made it, even down to the last pitch when we got a swing and miss.”
Trailing 1-0 in the top of the third, the Spartans tied it on an infield RBI single by Zimmerman.
Zimmerman sent the ball toward second base where Ako Thomas picked it up and nearly threw him out at first. But the throw was low and the Spartans’ runner on second base, Dan Chmielewski, never stopped after taking off, allowing him to slide home safely and tie the game.
Michigan State used a two-out rally to turn the game in its favor in the top of the fifth as four straight hits generated three runs and a 4-1 lead.
Royce Ando got things going with a base hit up the middle. Brandon Hughes followed with the first of the three consecutive run-scoring hits, drilling a double to deep left center field, plating Ando all the way from first base.
Zimmerman crushed the first pitch he saw from starter Evan Hill to the wall in right center field for his first triple of the season to bring in Hughes. Dan Durkin then capped the scoring with a line drive into center field, allowing Zimmerman to trot home from third.
Andrew Gonzalez took over for starter Joe Mockbee for the final out of the fifth to give the Spartans a shutdown inning, allowing MSU to build on its lead in the sixth.
Zack McGuire followed a leadoff double by Marty Bechina in the top of the sixth with a double of his own that bounced off the wall in left field to make it 5-1.
The Spartans made it runs in three consecutive innings with a sacrifice fly from Bechina to up the lead to 6-1 in the seventh.
“We just kept coming at them with one here and one there. It felt like we were close to breaking it open, but credit to them because they made some great defensive plays, too,” said Boss.
Michigan (29-12, 9-5) pushed back in the bottom of the eighth inning as three of the first four hitters reached to make it a 6-2 game. Jake Lowery replaced Gonzalez and after allowing an RBI single to make it 6-3, he got Jonathan Englemann to go down swinging and then Thomas to fly out to center field, ending the inning with the bases loaded.
Three walks and then a sacrifice fly by McGuire got the Spartans a run back in the top of the ninth, making the score 7-3.
A leadoff walk followed by a double for Michigan made it a 7-4 game in the bottom of the ninth, but Walter Borkovich came out of the bullpen squashed any hopes of a Wolverines comeback. Borkovich retired three of the four hitters he faced, the last via strikeout, to earn the save.
“Walter really gutted it out. He wasn’t 100 percent, but he felt like he could go and he got some big outs,” said Boss.
With no midweek games due to finals, the Spartans will get back into action next weekend when they host Nebraska on Saturday, Sunday and Monday at McLane Stadium.