EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State baseball team opened the home season on Tuesday afternoon with a 4-2 over Central Michigan at McLane Stadium. The Spartans (16-8) allowed just three hits in the contest and Chase Rihtarchik earned his third win of the season. The loss pushes CMU to 11-15 on the year.
The Spartans led 3-2 in the seventh before an RBI single down the right field line from Jimmy Pickens lengthened the lead and sealed the win for Michigan State. Pickens went 2-for-4 with two singles on the day.
"It's cold and it was a tough day to hit," head coach Jake Boss said. "I thought we swung at some balls in the dirt and some out of the strike zone. That is where that consistency needs to come back into play for us. We got some timely hits when we needed them. A big RBI by Pickens in the seventh and that gave us an extra cushion."
CMU threatened in the third inning, loading the bases with just one out, but Rihtarchik was able to get out of the jam that he created for himself. He hit one batter and walked the next two, but was able to get a fly out and struck out Zack Fields to end the frame.
The Spartans got on the board in the third after a pair of RBI singles from Cam Gibson and Jordan Keur, both up the middle. Gibson and Keur both finished 1-for-3.
Rihtarchik gave up his only runs of the day in the sixth inning on a 2-run home run to right field by Jordan Adams.
Rihtarchik was relieved by Trey Popp in the seventh. He threw six innings and allowed just three hits and two runs, while also striking out four batters and walking two.
"They threw well today," Boss said of the pitching staff. "Chase gave up a few freebies but he is learning and needs to understand that you have to focus on every pitch. He made a bad pitch and hit a guy and one swing later it's a one-run ball game. He is making some strides and it is part of that growing process. He threw well today."
Popp got out of trouble in the seventh inning after the first two batters reached on a walk and a hit by pitch. He got Noel Santos to fly out and Logan Regnier to ground into a double play, ending the threat.
Popp didn't allow a hit in two innings of work and freshman closer Justin Alleman earned his fourth save of the season.
"Trey Popp got into some trouble in the seventh but got out of it and had a good eighth," Boss said. "Then Alleman came in and closed it out in the ninth. It was a good day for us."
Next up, MSU will take on Eastern Michigan tomorrow at 5 p.m. in Ypsilanti.