Spartans sweep Sunday doubleheader over Purdue

Michigan State wins B1G opening series with 5-4 and 12-6 Victories for MSU
Published: Mar. 26, 2023 at 10:39 PM EDT
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (MSU Athletics) - Michigan State baseball swept a Sunday doubleheader with Purdue, rallying for a 5-4 triumph in the first game before winning game two by a 12-6 score, at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field, to capture the Big Ten Conference opening series.

The Spartans improved to 13-8 overall and 2-1 in the opening B1G weekend. MSU has won eight of its last nine after having its six-game win streak halted with Friday’s 5-4 loss to Purdue in the B1G opener. The Boilermakers slide to 10-12 overall and 1-2 in league action, having lost five of their last six.

“It was really important,” MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. said about the importance of getting a win to bounce back from Friday’s disappointing loss. “You try to win every series that you play and we all understand it’s extremely difficult to sweep, but you’ve got to take care of business at home and we put ourselves behind the eight-ball after a tough loss on Friday. Credit our guys, I thought we showed a lot of toughness today, a lot of resiliency, they stayed the course, in both games really. The mental approach today I thought was fantastic and they just were able to grind the two wins out.”

Not only did MSU snap a four-game losing skid to Purdue, Michigan State has now won its last six three-game conference series against the Boilermakers, as the Spartans now lead the all-time series, 87-77, including 45-31 in East Lansing.

Junior infielder Brock Vradenburg was 3-for-7 on the day, scoring six runs, and driving in two, while drawing two walks, including one intentional. He finished a home run shy of the cycle in game two, going 3-for-5 with an RBI and three runs scored, with the three hits coming in consecutive innings, knocking a triple in the fourth, a single in the fifth and a double in the sixth.

Redshirt-freshman designated hitter Sam Busch was 2-for-4 on the day with three runs scored and two RBI, coming on a two-run home run in the fourth inning of game two, bashing a shot over the wall in right and into the Red Cedar River for his first home run at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field.

“It was cool, and it was a good feeling,” Busch, the East Lansing native said about his first round-tripper at home. “I knew I hit it good, but I still put my head down and ran. It was a fastball down the middle that I knew I could handle, so I put a pretty good swing on it and got a hold of it. Being a hometown kid, it has always been my dream to do that here. It was a very special moment for me.”

MSU rapped out 23 hits on the day, posting double-digits hits in both games, including a total of five doubles, three triples and one home run in the two games, as the Spartans bounced back from a disappointing series opener on Friday when they only scored four runs on nine hits.

“It was huge. Getting the first one today was great for us,” Busch said. “The tough pitching at the end really sealed the deal for us there. Coming into the next one, we had a lot of momentum and put together lots of good at bats. The scoreboard said it all.”

In addition to the 23 hits, MSU also had two bunts, two sacrifice flies and swiped three bases in Sunday’s twinbill.

“I thought we really left a lot of opportunities out there on Friday, and so we thought we needed to do some things a little bit differently to try to force the action today, so it paid off,” Boss said.

Junior infielder Mitch Jebb finished the day doing 5-for-9 with an RBI and two runs scored, roping a double in the opener and a triple in the second game, as well as swiping one base. Junior outfielder Jack Frank finished a combined 2-for-5 with three runs scored, also drawing four walks on the day and swiping one base. Senior outfielder Casey Mayes, sophomore catcher Bryan Broecker and freshman outfielder Jake Dresselhouse all had three hits apiece. Mayes logged three RBI, while Broecker and Dresselhouse tallied two apiece. Broecker score three runs and Dresselhouse scored once. Junior infielder Dillon Kark and Trent Farquhar both had one hit each, with Kark driving in two and scoring once.

On the mound, freshman Nolan Higgins started the opener and went 4.0 IP scattering five hits and three runs, while walking one and chalking up two strikeouts. Sophomore Ryan Szczepaniak came on in relief and stymied the Boilermaker bats with five Ks to just two hits and two walks without a run, earning the win to level his season record at 1-1. Redshirt-sophomore Noah Matheny yielded a hit, walk and a run. Senior Wyatt Rush pitched the final frame working around a walk and HBP getting a popup to end the game and seal the win in the opener.

In game two, junior Nick Powers started and went 3.1 IP, spraying four hits with two runs, two walk and a pair of punchouts. Redshirt-sophomore Harrison Cook collected the win in relief, improving to 2-1 after going 2.2 IP with two hits and two strikeouts with one run. Matheny made a repeat appearance in the nightcap, going 1.0 IP with two hits, two runs, a walk and a strikeout. Senior Andrew Carson threw the final 2.0 IP with three Ks, three hits and one run.

Game One – MSU 5, Purdue 4

Purdue got out to a 2-0 lead after two frames with a sacrifice fly in each inning.

MSU cut its deficit in half in the bottom of the third, as Dresselhouse led off with a triple to the right-center gap, up the berm and to the wall. Two batters later, Jebb singled up the middle to drive in Dresselhouse for the Spartans’ first run of the day.

The Boilermakers scored a run in the fifth, but sophomore relief pitcher Ryan Szczepaniak limited the damage, ringing up a one-out strikeout, then after an intentional walk, chalked up another strikeout to end the Purdue rally and leave the bases loaded and keeping score 3-1.

After some stretching and singing, MSU rallied as Broecker led off with a single, and Purdue made a pitching change. The Spartans countered with pinch hitter sophomore Sam Busch, and he rudely welcomed Purdue reliever Jackson Dannelley by smacking a double to right field, and Broecker scored on a throwing error on the play, as MSU closed to 3-2.

Jebb ignited the Spartan comeback rally in the eighth with a double to right, then Vradenburg was intentionally walked. Both Spartan runners moved up a base after a failed pickoff attempt of Jebb at second. Frank was then intentionally walked to load the bases without an out. After a groundout fielder’s choice got one out, Broecker walked to drive in Vradenburg. Busch then knocked a sac fly to center to plate Frank. Mayes followed with a single to right, and Broecker scored on an error on the play for MSU’s third run on the inning and when the dust settled, the Spartans had a 5-3 lead.

Purdue didn’t go quietly into the afternoon, as the Boilermakers got their first two batters on and MSU brought in Rush to close it out. After a groundout and yielding a HBP to load the bases, a walk brought in one run, before Rush induced a popup to Vradenburg at first to end the Purdue rally and the game, sparking a Victory for MSU celebration.

Game Two - MSU 12, Purdue 6

The second game mirrored the first with Purdue getting out to a 2-0 lead, this time after the first inning, on a two-run single.

The score stayed 2-0 until the fourth inning, when the Spartans erupted for a four-spot on five hits, with the big blow coming on a two-run home run by Busch, over the wall in right and into the Red Cedar River. Jebb ignited the rally with a single, then Vradenburg tripled to right, before Busch blasted his first home run at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field and his second of the season.

Frank kept the rally going with a single, then Kark reached on an error and two batters later, Dresselhouse knocked a single to right to drive in Frank and give the Spartans a 4-2 lead.

In the fifth, Vradenburg led off with a single, and Busch battled to draw a walk. Broecker then reached on a bunt single and a throwing error on the play allowed Vradenburg and Busch to score and Broecker darted around to third. After a Frank walk, Kark popped a deep foul ball down the right field line and was deep enough for Broecker to score on a sac fly and a 7-2 MSU advantage.

Purdue got a run back in the sixth on an RBI single to pull within 7-3.

Vradenburg again sparked the Spartan rally in the sixth with a one-out double, and again Busch drew a walk, this time of the intentional variety. Broecker drove in Vradenburg with an RBI single to left, then Frank drew a walk to fill the bases full of Spartans. Kark was then hit by a pitch for an RBI, plating Busch. After a Purdue pitching change, Mayes double down the right field line to score Broecker and Frank. An RBI groundout by Dresselhouse drove in Kark to cap the five-run frame and a 12-3 lead.

The Boilermakers knocked a two-run home run in the seventh and scored on an RBI single in the eighth for the final scoring, before Carson rang up a strikeout to end the rally and the game, sparking the celebration for the second Victory for MSU of the day to complete the twinbill sweep and clinch the series win in the B1G opening series.

Michigan State now heads to Kalamazoo to play at Western Michigan on Wednesday, March 29 at 3:05 p.m. at WMU’s Robert J. Bobb Stadium at Hyames Field in the swap of this past Wednesday’s home-and-home with the Broncos.

The Spartans then travel to Piscataway, N.J. to play a three-game series at Rutgers, Friday-Sunday, March 31-April 2. MSU and Rutgers open the series on Friday, March 31 at 3 p.m. ET, before the middle match-up on Saturday, April 1 with a 2 p.m. first pitch. The series wraps up on Sunday, April 2 at 1 p.m.

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