Bechina Blast, Bullpen, Boost To 6-5 Victory For MSU Over No. 16 Minnesota

Home run from Bechina propels MSU, while Tyranski and McCauley quiet Gopher bats

MINNEAPOLIS — A solo home run from Marty Bechina in the sixth inning and shutdown pitching out of the bullpen by Mitchell Tyranski and Riley McCauley boosted Michigan State baseball to a 6-5 win over No. 16 Minnesota on Friday night at Minnesota’s Siebert Field.

Bechina’s home run broke a 5-5 tie in the sixth before Tryanski and McCauley shut down the Gophers, combining to chalk up nine strikeouts in 4.1 IP.

“It was a good win, our guys played well tonight against a very, very good ball club,” MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. said. “We had a big fourth inning and sprayed the ball all over the field, and were pretty balanced at the plate. We got some barrels of the bats to some ball and then Marty hit a big home run in the sixth. I thought Mitch and Riley out of the bullpen really bailed us out and won the game for us.”

The victory for MSU leveled the Spartans’ Big Ten record at 9-9 and moved to 18-26 overall. The Spartans snapped the Gophers’ four-game win streak, as they came into Friday’s game having won 16 of their last 18 games. Minnesota is now 32-13 overall and 14-4 in B1G play, remaining tied with Michigan atop the league standings, as the Wolverines also lost on Friday. With MSU’s win, the Spartans also snapped a five-game losing skid to the Gophers in the all-time series, and was the first win in Minneapolis since 2015.

“Minnesota is a good club, they’ve got two guys hitting close to .400 on their roster and they compete and battle with two strikes, they foul pitches off and really battle. We got a couple that they fouled off but overall, give them credit, they’re tied for first in the conference and nationally ranked for a reason,” Boss said. “Like I told our guys, I’m more concerned with what we do and how we do things, and if we play good fundamental baseball and execute the way that we’re capable of, we can beat anybody in the country.”

Friday was MSU’s 14th 1-run game of the season as the Spartans are now 6-8 in 1-run ballgames, as well as their 26th game decided by 1-2 runs, tied for second-most in the country. Michigan State and Minnesota play game two of their three-game series on Saturday afternoon.

“We’re going to get a good effort out of Minnesota tomorrow and we have to be better than we were today in order to get that one tomorrow, but we’ll worry about that one later. We’re going to enjoy this one tonight, a very good win against a very good ball club tonight and our guys will be ready to go tomorrow. I thought we were excited to play today, I thought the attitude in the dugout was outstanding all day long, guys really competed and I’m really, really proud of them.”

The junior right fielder Bechina was 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored for the game. Bechina’s home run was his fifth of the season, tying senior first baseman Zack McGuire for the team lead. Sophomore second baseman Justin Antoncic was also 2-for-4, adding an RBI and a run scored. Senior shortstop Kory Young was 1-for-4 with an RBI, and McGuire added an RBI on a sac fly, part of MSU’s 5-run fourth inning. The Spartans had 12 hits in the game, marking their 11th game this season with double-digit hits and MSU is 9-2 win having double-figures in the hit column.

Tyranski went 2.1 innings, firing six strikeouts while not walking any and scattering three hits to earn the win, improving to 2-1 on the season. McCauley pitched the final two innings, yielding just one hit while chalking up three strikeouts and got a key double play, as Antoncic fielded a chopper, tagged the runner and flipped to McGuire at first to complete the twin killing to end the game. McCauley picked up his fifth save this season.

“Mitchell Tyranski struck out six in two-and-a-third innings and came in to the game in a big, big spot with two on and got his guy there. He then settled into the game in the sixth and seventh to set it up for Riley in the eighth and ninth. Those guys have been really, really good for us all year and if we can get to them with the lead, we feel pretty good about things,” Boss said.

The Gophers took a 1-0 lead in the home half of the first, with a leadoff walk and stolen base by Luke Petterson, and he came around to score on an RBI single by Ben Mezzenga.

Minnesota took a 2-0 advantage in the second after a pair of singles, then later a sac fly.

The Spartans erupted for a five-spot in the top of the fourth, with sophomore center fielder Danny Gleaves sparking the rally with a leadoff infield single. Senior designated hitter Chad Roskelly followed with a single to center to move Gleaves up to third. Antoncic laced a single to left to plate Gleaves to put MSU on the board. Freshman third baseman Zach Iverson followed with a single of his own to load the bases.

That brought McGuire to the plate and he hit a sacrifice fly to center to drive in Roskelly, and an error on the play by Minnesota’s first baseman allowed Antoncic to score. Bechina followed with an RBI double down the left field line, driving in Iverson. Next up was senior shortstop Kory Young, who laced a single up the middle to plate Bechina and give the visiting Spartans a 5-2 lead.

Minnesota scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth, chasing senior starter Ethan Landon, and leveling the score at 5-5.

The tie didn’t last long as Bechina broke it in the top of the sixth on a blast to left for a solo home run. It was Bechina’s fifth round-tripper of the season and it gave the Spartans a 6-5 advantage.

Tyranski kept the Gopher bats quiet, firing six strikeouts in 2.1 IP. The Spartan lefty entered in the fifth inning with two on and two outs, but got a strikeout to end the frame and thwart the Gopher rally. Tyranski also ended the sixth and chalked up the first two outs of the seventh on punchouts, part of striking out the side in the seventh around a pair of singles. Tyranski gave way to McCauley to open the eighth.

McCauley retired the side in order in the eighth, sandwiching a pair of strikeouts around a pop up. In the ninth, the Gophers got the leadoff hitter on with a single by Terrin Vavra, but McCualey struck out the next batter and then got the double play to Antoncic to end the game and seal the victory for MSU.

The Spartans and Gophers play game two of the series on Saturday with a 3 p.m. ET start time. The series finale on Sunday is slated for a 2 p.m. ET first pitch.

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