GREENVILLE, S.C. -- A six-run sixth inning propelled Michigan State baseball to a 10-2 win over Presbyterian Saturday afternoon at Latham Stadium in the Spartans’ second game of the First Pitch Invitational.
MSU has now won both its First Pitch Invitational games, beating Furman Friday night, 3-2, as the Spartans improved to 8-1 on the season. Presbyterian has split its two contests, also winning 3-2 on Friday, over UT Martin on a walk-off. Saturday’s games of the First Pitch Invitational were played at Furman’s Latham Stadium because the South Carolina-Clemson game was being played at Fluor Field, but Sunday’s action returns to Fluor Field, as Michigan State takes on UT Martin at 11 a.m., followed by Presbyterian vs. Furman closing out the First Pitch Invitational at 3 p.m.
Saturday’s 10 runs were the Spartans’ fourth game with double-digit runs, as all four double-digit outings have come in the last six games, as they entered the weekend sharing the NCAA lead in runs scored with 11.3 runs per game. MSU rapped out 10 hits Saturday, while swiping a season-high seven bases.
“It was a good day for us offensively, we had a chance to be aggressive on the bases and it really paid off with a lot of guys with stolen bases today that put our offense in situation where we had RBI opportunities and we cashed in on a lot of them. It’s a really good day when you can put a big number up and get some other guys some at bats,” MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr., said.
Junior center fielder Brandon Hughes led MSU at the plate, going 2-for-3 with two runs scored and three stolen bases. Freshman left fielder Danny Gleaves was 2-for-5 with four RBI and one run scored, while sophomore right fielder Dan Chmielewski was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and swiped two bases.
Junior starter Ethan Landon went 4.1 innings, matching three hits allowed with three strikeouts, allowing one run. Senior reliever Joe Mockbee picked up the win, improving to 3-0 on the season, firing 1.2 innings with four strikeouts.
“I thought Ethan Landon had a better start today than last week, which is very good, he’s trending in the right direction, and Joe Mockbee was lights out. He came on in a big spot and got a couple strikeouts and really settled things down for us, so a big outing out of Joe. The bullpen was really good again today,” Boss said.
The Spartan bullpen combined to allow just one run in 4.2 innings of work, holding the Blue Hose to just four hits. Junior reliever Walter Borkovich pitch one inning, while freshmen Mitchell Tyranski and Caleb Sleeman made their Spartan debuts, sandwiching fellow freshman Mike Mokma, who was making his second appearance.
“We’ve got some guys who I think will be very, very good players here at Michigan State, especially on the mound, so it’s nice to get guys like Mitchell Tyranski an inning, he threw well, Mike Mokma made his second appearance and threw very well. It was good to get Caleb Sleeman in, he’s a redshirt freshman who has really bided his time and continued to work hard, so it ‘s nice to get some guys like that on the mound and get some guys some at bats. The more we can do that the deeper we’re going to be. We’ve got a lot of really good options on the mound with the bullpen and it’s only going to make us better down the road,” Boss said.
MSU erupted for three runs in the home half of the second. Hughes singled and moved to second on an error on the throw to spark the rally, and later stole third. He scored on a wild pitch to get MSU on the board and Gleaves followed by lacing a two-run double down the third base line, just between the bag and diving Presbyterian third baseman Glen Casaceli’s glove, and the Spartans had a 3-0 lead.
Chmielewski provided the offense in the fourth as he led off with a single, stole second and came around to score on an RBI single by sophomore shortstop Royce Ando for a 4-0 MSU lead after four innings. Presbyterian got a run in the fifth, stringing together two hits with an MSU error to get on the board for a 4-1 score.
The Spartans exploded in the sixth, batting around and hanging a six-spot on the scoreboard and take a 10-1 lead on the Blue Hose. Again, Chmielewski started the rally with a single and stole second. Gleaves later plated Chmielewski and senior catcher Matt Byars, who reached on a walk, with a two-run single to left. Junior first baseman Zack McGuire laced an RBI single to right and two batters later, junior designated hitter Chad Roskelly smacked a two-run single to right center for MSU’s six-run sixth inning.
Presbyterian scored one run in the top of the seventh, but the Spartan bullpen again closed the door and thwarted any other threats and sealing the victory for MSU.
Michigan State wraps up First Pitch Invitational and returns to Fluor Field on Sunday when MSU takes on UT Martin at 11 a.m.