GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Behind home runs from Danny Gleaves and Zack McGuire, Michigan State baseball rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to beat Furman, 3-2, Friday evening at Fluor Field to cap the first day of First Pitch Invitational action.
With the win, MSU is now 7-1 on the season, while Furman slides to 6-3 with the loss. Michigan State now leads the all-time series with Furman, 8-4, winning the last two meetings after dropping the previous three.
“I thought our guys showed a lot of character tonight. I thought that (Will) Gaddis from Furman is one of the best arms in the country. I think he’s a guy that’s going to have a great opportunity to go really high in the draft and have a very good pro career. We knew we had our work cut out for us, especially getting down early but our guys competed hard and took advantage of a couple opportunities, we didn’t have many and knew we weren’t going to have many, but we were fortunate to take advantage of a few, and fortunately for us, we made it count. Our pitching was really, really good today too,” MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr., said.
Gleaves was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and his home run, while McGuire was 2-for-4 with two RBI and one home run. Sophomore third baseman Marty Bechina was also 2-for-4 at the plate. Gleaves also had the game’s lone stolen base, as he now leads the team with five.
“Danny had a good day today. It was great to see him get the barrel of the bat out on that ball and cleared the Green Monster in left field late in the game. It’s exciting that it’s his first collegiate home run, a great time and great place for it,” Boss said. “His high school teammate, Marty Bechina, did the same thing a year ago at the same park. I don’t know what it is about those St. Rita guys hitting a Fluor Field. Danny had a good night. He made a lot of good things happen for us, both at the plate and on the bases.”
Gleaves smacked a leadoff home run in the top of the seventh into the newly installed seats on the top of the Green Monster at Fluor Field for the freshman outfielder’s first collegiate home run.
The Paladins scored both their runs in the top of the first, but then sophomore starting pitcher Alex Troop combined with junior middle reliever Jake Lowery and sophomore closer Riley McCauley to close the door on Furman.
Troop yielded four hits in the first inning, but then only three hits in his other five innings, going 6.0 complete innings, striking out six while allowing two runs, one earned, with one walk. With the win, Troop is now 2-0 on the young season.
Lowery fired two complete innings of no-hit, no-runs baseball, before giving way to McCauley for the ninth. McCauley struck out two before Furman rallied with back-to-back base hits before McCauley ended both the rally and the game with a groundout to pick up his fourth save of the season.
“I thought Alex was really good after the first inning. He missed a couple locations in the first, and we didn’t play great defense behind him either, but after the first, I thought he really settled in and was very good. When you have a bullpen like we do, you feel pretty good if our starter can get to the middle of the game and turning it over to guys like Jake Lowery and Riley McCauley and those guys were both lights out today. That’s what our bullpen is going to do for us, we feel that we are very deep on the mound and you saw that today,” Boss said.
The Spartans’ pitching staff countered a solid day by Furman’s Will Gaddis, who had roughly 20 Major League Baseball scouts in attendance watching, going 6.0 IP with four hits, two earned runs, chalking up six strikeouts while walking two.
Furman got on the board first, plating a pair of runs in the top of the first, combining four hits and taking advantage of one MSU error for a 2-0 lead.
The Spartans cut the gap in half in their next at bat as McGuire led off the top of the second with a deep blast to left center for a 2-1 score.
Michigan State threatened in the fourth, loading the bases with one out, but the rally fizzled without a score after a fielder’s choice force out at the plate and a strikeout.
MSU tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the fifth as Gleaves led off with a bunt single. Senior second baseman Dan Durkin was then hit by pitch. McGuire followed with an RBI single to center to plate Gleaves and tying the score at 2-2. The Spartans later loaded the bases again, but couldn’t score any more, leaving the game level at 2s.
Furman made a pitching change in the top of the seventh, with Billy Greenfield coming on to relieve Gaddis. Gleaves rudely welcomed Greenfield to the game by blasting a his second pitch to the seats on top of the Green Monster in left field for the go-ahead run at 3-2. That set up Lowery and McCauley’s shutdown efforts to preserve the victory for MSU.
“You always want to win game one of the weekend and we were fortunate to do that today. Even though it’s three different opponents in the three days, you approach it like a weekend series, and now we have an opportunity to win the series tomorrow and we’ll worry about Sunday after that. We know we’re going to play another quality opponent tomorrow who is going to give us a very good effort,” Boss said.
Michigan State continues First Pitch Invitational action on Saturday against Presbyterian at 12 p.m., with games shifting to Furman’s Latham Stadium before returning to Fluor Field on Sunday when MSU takes on UT Martin at 11 a.m.