No. 24 Spartans, Mockbee Push Past Nebraska, 4-2
Marty Bechina goes 4-for-4 in the win to even the weekend series.
EAST LANSING – The 24th-ranked Michigan State baseball team got a career-long outing from starter Joe Mockbee en route to a 4-2 victory over Nebraska Sunday afternoon at McLane Stadium to even the weekend series between the teams. Four different Spartans recorded RBIs while freshman Marty Bechina went 4-for-4 as MSU upped its record to 31-12 and 11-6 in the Big Ten.
After a rocky first inning that saw Nebraska (29-17, 10-7) score two runs off two hits and Spartan error while stranding runners and second and third, Mockbee bounced back in a big way. The lefty went on to allow just three hits the rest of the way, retiring eight consecutive Cornhuskers on two separate occasions.
“That was a really big win, especially after not playing well yesterday,” said MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. “The way the game started wasn’t ideal, but give our guys credit for coming back.
“Joe (Mockbee) was really good. He got out of the first and walked just one guy all day.”
Michigan State answered the Huskers’ opening-inning runs with two of its own in the bottom half of the first as three straight two-out singles, including RBIs from Zack McGuire and Bechina, made it 2-2.
“We were able to relax a bit there after and just play,” said Boss. “That was a big momentum swing.”
Mockbee sat down nine of 10 Huskers following the first inning, giving the Spartans a chance to take their first lead of the weekend and they did just that in the bottom of the fourth.
Bechina got aboard with an infield single and moved over to third on a failed pickoff attempt. A high arcing sacrifice bunt attempt by Dam Chmiewlewski turned into a base hit to give the Spartans runners at the corners. Justin Hovis then plated Bechina with a perfect sac bunt to make it 3-2.
Jordan Zimmerman gave the Spartans a 4-2 advantage in the following inning with a solo home run. Zimmerman ripped the first pitch he saw from Nebraska starter Matt Waldron to right field and the ball carried just enough to clear the 20-foot fence for his team-leading seventh homer of the year.
Mekkes came out of the bullpen and faced the minimum in the eighth with the help of a perfectly executed strike-‘em-out, throw-‘em-out. The big lefty allowed a one-out hit in the top of the ninth, but got a strikeout and fly out to end the game and earn his fifth save of the year.
Mockbee’s win was his second straight and second of the year.
“He was really, really good and we needed him to be. He got deep into the game,” said Boss.
The two teams will complete the series on Monday at 1:05 p.m.