EAST LANSING, Mich. -- On a day that Michigan State baseball honored its alumni, the Spartans said “let’s play two,” and MSU went out and tangled with Northwestern in a doubleheader Saturday afternoon on MSU Baseball Alumni Day at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field. The Spartans and Wildcats split the twinbill, as MSU tallied a season-high 15 hits for the second-straight game on the way to an 8-2 win in the opener, before falling, 3-2 in 10 innings, in game two.
Due to inclement weather in the East Lansing forecast for Saturday night and Sunday morning that may have made field conditions unplayable for Sunday’s game, Michigan State and Northwestern officials and the Big Ten Conference agreed to play a doubleheader Saturday afternoon.
Prior to Saturday’s second game, Michigan State celebrated the 65th anniversary of the 1954 College World Series team, and 12 members of the team in attendance threw out ceremonial first pitches. Chuck Bodary, Dan Brown, Ray Collard, Bob Dilday, Edward Hobaugh, Dick Idzkowski, Charles Matthews, John Matsock, Bob Reising, Jack Risch, James Sack and Ron Stead were recognized for their historic 1954 season where the Spartans claimed their first Big Ten title as well as an NCAA District Four title and advanced to the College World Series in Omaha. Their success paved the way and set the standard for the Spartan baseball program.
“It’s great, this is the first varsity athletic program at Michigan State, we go back to 1884 and its 135 years of baseball here and our guys are well aware of that, they’re well aware we are able to experience the things we do because of guys that play before us and we talk about the ‘54 team a lot,” MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. said. “It’s awesome to have those guys here today and I think it’s important for our guys to see what Michigan State means to those guys even 65 years later. Same with the ‘71 team, the ‘79 team coming back, it’s awesome to have those guys back and I think we take a lot of pride in how we go about our business because of our alumni and we understand that we have a responsibility to do right by those guys.”
A large portion of the 1979 Big Ten Champion and NCAA Regional team was also recognized as they were celebrating their 40th anniversary of their banner season. In all, over 50 Spartan baseball alumni were in attendance. There was a tailgate before the second game and the alumni were introduced by decade throughout the game.
Saturday’s DH came on the heels of Friday night’s contest won by MSU, 8-3. The twinbill started at 12:05 p.m. on Saturday and finished at approximately 6:30 p.m.
“Long day of baseball. A tale of two different games for us, we really swung the bat well in game one, put a big number up on the board,” Boss said. “It really looked like we had it going in the first again in game two and unfortunately could only get one run and credit to their guy ( Ryan Bader) because he settled into it and we really didn’t threaten much after that. He made pitches when he needed to, Marty hit the big home run to tie it and unfortunately they just got us. That’s baseball I guess.”
Michigan State rapped out 15 hits in game one, as the Spartans tied their season-high that wasn’t even 24 hours old, after tallying 15 hits in Friday night’s 8-3 Victory for MSU in the series opener. In the second game, MSU had seven hits, including a solo home run by senior infielder Marty Bechina.
In the opener, senior infielder Royce Ando and junior outfielder Bryce Kelley were both 4-for-5 with Ando posting two RBI and two runs scored, while Kelley logged a pair of runs. Bechina was 3-for-5 with two RBI and crossed the plate twice. Freshman outfielder Casey Mayes continued his recent tear going 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored, as both hits Saturday were for extra bases with an RBI triple in the first inning and later adding a double. Bechina and Ando also had doubles. Sophomore infielder Zach Iverson was 1-for-3 with a run scored, while freshman outfielder Zaid Walker was 1-for-4.
Junior Mitchell Tyranski earned the win in game one, going a career-long 8.0 IP, with nine strikeouts, including five through his first five batters of the game. Tyranski scattered five hits while allowing just one earned run with two walks. Tyranski now has nine or more Ks in his last three outings. Tyranski fired a career-high 10 at Rutgers on April 13, then nine vs. Indiana on April 21, before the nine on Sunday. The southpaw has 51 Ks in his last seven outings.
“Mitch was great, he was lights out in the first game,” Boss said. “He’s really settled into it here the last couple starts and it’s what you expect out of an older veteran guy. Mitch is an outstanding competitor and really threw well and was the reason we were able to win game two of the series.”
Freshman reliever Colton Panaranto pitched a scoreless ninth inning, retiring the Wildcats in three-up, three-down fashion.
Game two saw freshman infielder Reese Trahey lead the MSU offense going 2-for-4, while Kelley, Bechina, Ando, Walker and senior catcher Nic Lacayo all had a hit apiece, with Ando’s a two-bagger.
Junior starter Caleb Sleeman went 4.0 innings, ringing up four Ks. Senior reliever Evan Flohr chalked up three Ks in 2.0 innings, junior reliever Indigo Diaz threw 3.2 IP with one K, allowing a run that snapped his streak of 13-straight appearances without a run. Panaranto came on in the 10th and got an out to end the frame and the NU rally.
In the opener, Tyranski came out firing, striking out the side in order in the top of the first.
MSU jumped out to a quick 2-0 advantage in the home half of the opening frame, plating a pair of runs with two outs. Bechina belted his team-leading 13th double of the season to spark the rally. Ando followed with a single to right to drive in Bechina, and then Mayes blasted a triple to straight away center to plate Ando for the 2-0 lead.
Tryanski struck out the first two Wildcats of the second inning for five-straight strikeouts before a fly out to right ended the frame.
Northwestern broke through with a run in the third, taking advantage of an MSU error to get on, then later scoring on a ground out.
The Wildcats plated another run in the top of the fourth on a squeeze bunt by David Dunn to tie the game at 2-apiece, before the Spartan defense turned a 6-4-3 double play in support of Tyranski.
Michigan State re-took the lead with two runs in the fifth. Ando started the rally with a one-out single, then Mayes doubled to left center to put Ando at third. Senior outfielder Dan Chmielewski was at the plate next and he driving in Ando on a sacrifice fly, and Mayes later scored on a wild pitch for a 4-2 lead.
In the bottom of the sixth, MSU plated two more runs, on an RBI single by Bechina, who then stole second and went to third on an error. Ando laced a single up the middle to drive in Bechina for a 6-2 advantage.
The Spartan lead grew to 8-2 in the eighth on a two-run single by Bechina, driving in Iverson and Kelley, who had both singled.
Panaranto came on in the ninth and retired the Wildcats in order with a pair of groundouts followed by a fly out to end the game and seal the Victory for MSU.
In the second game of the twinbill, the Spartans started the second contest just like the opener by scoring in the home half of the first frame. Kelley led off with a single up the middle, then Trahey singled and Kelley not only advanced to second, but stole third. Bechina was the next Spartan at bat and while he grounded into a double play, it drove in Kelley to put the Spartans on top early, 1-0.
Northwestern countered with run in the top of the second on an RBI double by Casey O’Laughlin, leveling the score at a run apiece.
The visitors added a run in the top of the fifth on a single by Alex Erro, driving in Jack Kelly, before Flohr got a strikeout to leave the bases full of Wildcats.
The Bechina blast came in the bottom of the sixth, with a laser of a line drive into the trees beyond the left field wall, just over the spot where the 1954 team photo is on the wall, for his own private tribute to the CWS Spartans and tied the game at 2-2.
From there, the final three innings of regulation baseball were a defensive battle with Northwestern’s eighth as the only frame with any sort of a rally. The Wildcats got two on with one out after a single and a walk, but Diaz dialed up a fly out and a strikeout to end the threat and the frame.
In the 10th, Shawn Goosenberg led off with a double and advanced to third on a groundout. Goosenberg scored on a flyout deep right field by David Dunn for the 3-2 lead. The NU rally continued, loading the bases and chases Diaz, before Panranto induced a groundout to end the inning and give the MSU offense a chance for a comeback.
Walker sparked the comeback threat with a leadoff single to right and was moved over to second on a Lacayo sac bunt, and the Wildcats made a pitching change. Jack Pagliarini came on to relieve Josh Levy and got a flyout and groundout to end it and earn the save and credit Levy with the win.
Michigan State does not have any midweek games this upcoming week due to finals on campus at MSU. The Spartans resume action by heading to West Lafayette, Ind., for a three-game Big Ten weekend series at Purdue, Friday-Sunday, May 3-4. Friday’s series opener is slated for 6 p.m., followed by 1 p.m. first pitches on Saturday and Sunday.
Any schedule updates due to weather will be announced on www.MSUSpartans.com and on twitter @statebaseball.
Fans can also follow Spartan baseball action through “Live Stats,” “Listen Live” and “Watch Live” links found at MSUSpartans.com. The games will be video streamed on BTN2Go, and will also be carried on the Spartan Sports Network live audio stream. The broadcast will be available exclusively at SpartanSportsNetwork.com and on the network’s 24/7 app for mobile devices (available on iTunes and Google Play). Broadcast veteran Scott Moore calls the action alongside former MSU manager/bullpen catcher David Greenberg in select games.