EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State baseball beat Illinois on Sunday afternoon at McLane Stadium, 4-3, thanks to a three-run home run to left field by junior Joel Fisher. The Spartans (26-14, 9-6 Big Ten) were trailing 3-1 in the eighth before Fisher sent the seniors home with a win in the final home weekend at McLane. Illinois fell to 28-15 and 9-9 in the conference.
"I'm proud of them for not panicking when it wasn't going well and not getting too frustrated," head coach Jake Boss said. "They really stayed the course and did a nice job playing a complete nine innings. It was a good win today."
Anthony Misiewicz relieved Mick VanVossen in the eighth inning and threw two scoreless innings and had three strikeouts in the win.
In the eighth, Anthony Cheky singled to right field with one out and Blaise Salter struck out in the next at-bat. Jimmy Pickens walked, setting the stage for Fisher as the go-ahead run with two on and two out.
Joel Fisher came through with a three-run blast to left field to give the Spartans a 4-3 lead and their 26th win of the season. Fisher was down two strikes in the count and got all of the next pitch from Illinois reliever Bryan Roberts.
"Coming in I figured he was going to give me a slider and he threw two good fastballs right at the knees for strike one and two," Joel Fisher said. "I had it in the back of my head that he was going to go slider, he hung it and I got a piece of it."
Misiewicz faced the bottom of the Illini order in the ninth and retired the side. He struck out Reid Roper, got a fly out from Davis Hendrickson and finished the game with a strikeout against Jason Goldstein.
"It's a huge win," Anthony Misiewicz. "I did it for the boys and the seniors. They put in a lot of hard work leading us and I felt I had to do it for them. I'm glad it was me."
Cam Gibson and Ryan Krill each went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles against Illinois.
Illinois scored one in the first inning and added another in the second to take an early 2-0 lead. In the first, Jordan Parr had an RBI-sacrifice fly that scored Thomas Lindauer. Justin Parr moved him into scoring position with a single to left field, extending his hitting streak to 31 games.
In the second, Michael Hurwitz hit an RBI-single up the middle scoring Goldstein.
The Spartans got one run back in the fourth after Anthony Cheky reached in the lead-off spot on an error. Cheky stole third base, his 19th swipe of the season. Jimmy Pickens got his 28th RBI of the season on a groundout that sent Cheky home.
With one out in the seventh, Lindauer hit a solo-home run to left field to extend the Illini lead to 3-1.
Mick VanVossen took a no-decision and tossed seven innings, allowing three runs on seven hits. He didn't walk anybody and had three strikeouts.
Illinois starter John Kravetz also was saddled with a no-decision. He went 7 1/3 innings and allowed six hits and just one unearned run. He walked one and struck out five.
The biggest play may have been in the top of the eighth inning after Jordan Parr led off and reached on an error. Brandon Hohl sent a ground ball down the line that third baseman Justin Hovis was able to glove and turn a 5-4-3 double play. Misiewicz struck out David Kerian to end the threat.
"It's a strange one because it is so early this weekend," Boss said of Senior Day. "It's bittersweet because those are tough kids to say good bye to. Especially because they are good kids, aside from what they do on the field. It's a family and it's tough to lose those guys. Every team's got one moment and this is this team's moment."
Next up, the Spartans have a pair of midweek contests. MSU will travel to Western Michigan on Tuesday before hosting Eastern Michigan on Wednesday in the final home game of the season.