Seniors Spark 8-3 Victory For MSU Saturday
Spartans honor seniors pre-game, then beat Buckeyes to clinch No. 8 spot in B1G Tournament
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State baseball clinched the No. 8 spot in next week's Big Ten Tournament in Omaha, Neb., with an 8-3 victory for MSU over Ohio State Saturday afternoon at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field, completing Saturday's Senior Day celebrations.
MSU will be the No. 8 seed for the B1G Tournament, which opens on Wednesday, May 23 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha. Michigan State will face top-seed and regular-season champion Minnesota on Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET, and all the games of the B1G Tournament will be nationally televised on the Big Ten Network.
Prior to the game the Spartans honored their seniors: No. 7, pitcher Keegan Baar; No. 34, pitcher Andrew Gonzalez; No. 7, pitcher Ethan Landon; No. 12, pitcher Jake Lowery; No. 55, first baseman Zack McGuire; No. 24, designated hitter Chad Roskelly; No. 11, catcher Will Salter, and No. 19, infielder Kory Young, along with senior manager Jacob Seidel, in a pre-game ceremony.
Senior first baseman Zack McGuire belted a two-run home run, his sixth home run of the season and all six have been of the two-run variety. The six home runs ties junior Marty Bechina for the team lead, and one ahead of fellow senior, designated hitter Chad Roskelly with five round-trippers.
"It's good to get a win, it's good to go to the Big Ten Tournament, and obviously good to hit a home run on Senior Day, that was cool. It's definitely one of those things that's in the back of your head going into it but to actually do it is pretty cool," McGuire said about being a dream to hit a home run in his final home game at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field.
After the game, McGuire and his fellow seniors kissed the Spartan head in center field per the MSU tradition after playing their final home game in the Green & White. McGuire and the Spartans now head to postseason play, which means something special.
"It means everything, I get to play at least two more games in my Spartan career, so I'm excited. These guys are awesome all these younger guys would come up to us after a play and say `that was for you guys,' so everyone's playing behind each other and we're starting to play our best baseball now, so hopefully we can carry that into the Big Ten Tournament."
Fellow senior, shortstop Kory Young smacked not only his first triple of the season but of his career and it came in his final at bat at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field. Young finished his Senior Day going 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored, his second multi-hit outing this season.
Senior relief pitcher Jake Lowery pitched the final two innings, chalking up two strikeouts, to secure the win for sophomore starter Mike Mokma, who went a career-high 7.0 IP with four Ks and allowing just one run. At one point in the ballgame, Mokma retired nine Buckeyes in a row, setting down OSU in order in the fifth after a one-out hit, then in three-up, three-down order in the sixth and seventh, before giving way to Lowery, who retired the side in order in the eighth, teaming up for a streak of retiring 12 Buckeyes in a row.
"I'm proud of our guys, we had to win today and didn't want to leave it up to anyone else and we got it done," MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. said. "A couple big days out of our seniors, and Mike Mokma was lights out today. I'm just really proud of our guys for answering the bell today and getting the win. We get to compete for at least another week with these guys; it's a great group. We're not done yet."
MSU qualifies for the Big Ten Tournament for the seventh time in the 10 seasons under Coach Boss, missing last season's tournament by one game, finishing ninth in the regular-season standings.
"I'm happy for these guys that we get to keep playing but they get to experience something now by going to Omaha and playing in a tournament that we, unfortunately, weren't able to last year," Boss said.
Sophomore outfielders Danny Gleaves and Bryce Kelley had two hits apiece, with Gleaves going 2-for-3 and a run, while Kelley was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Both Kelley and Gleaves also each had a stolen base. Kelley added to not only his B1G leading total, but also adding to his MSU single-season record that he broke in Friday's game, now at 32 base swipes this season, topping former teammate Brandon Hughes' record of 30 set last season. Gleaves now has 24 stolen bases, moving up to sole possession of the No. 5 spot on MSU's single-season list.
With the pair of stolen bases by Kelley and Gleaves, this season's Spartans now have 98 base swipes this season, tying the MSU team stolen base record of 98 base swipes set in 2005.
Along with Young, Gleaves and Kelley belting multiple hits, junior second baseman Justin Antoncic was 1-for-3 with two RBI, junior right fielder Marty Bechina was 1-for-4 with a run scored and junior Dan Chmielewski was 1-for-1 with a pinch-hit single.
MSU started its scoring in the home half of the first, with sophomore outfielder Danny Gleaves leading off with a single to left, then stealing second. Gleaves was driven in on an RBI double by Antoncic for an early 1-0 lead.
The Spartans tacked on three more in the second stanza, with McGuire scoring on a wild pitch, Kelley droves in freshman third baseman Zach Iverson with an infield single, and Antoncic had a sacrifice fly to plate Young, for a 4-0 lead.
OSU got a run back in the top of the third on a double and a single, but Mokma got out of it with a groundout, leaving the score 4-1.
That didn't last long, as the Spartans tacked on a pair of runs in the home half of the third with McGuire's mash to left center field, plating Bechina who led off with a single.
MSU added two more in the eighth, on Young's RBI triple after freshman catcher Adam Proctor was hit by a pitch. Young later scored on a wild pitch for Michigan State's 8-1 lead, before OSU scored two in the top of the ninth to complete the scoring and seal the victory for MSU and send the Spartans to the Big Ten Tournament.
"It's definitely a dream come true," McGuire said about his time at Michigan State. "You always dream of playing college baseball, especially when you're at a young age starting to play it, so getting the opportunity to do this is a tremendous honor and I'm glad it continues."
Further B1G Tournament information will be announced on www.MSUSpartans.com and on twitter @statebaseball.