KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Solid pitching, mainly from the starter Dominik Pianotodrove Michigan State Baseball to a 3-1 win for MSU over Western Michigan Wednesday night at WMU’s Robert J. Bobb Stadium in Hyames Field.
MSU’s hectic stretch ended Wednesday with five games in four days in four states.
Tuesday was Michigan State’s fourth game in the last three days, after playing a doubleheader at Penn State on Sunday, then a single game on Monday before returning home after midnight and arriving back on campus. MSU then boarded a bus Tuesday afternoon to go to South Bend to play at No. 14 Notre Dame Tuesday night and returned home after the game. The Spartans then made the short trip to Kalamazoo on Wednesday afternoon to fight the Broncos.
“It was a really good win for our boys today. I’m really proud of her. We played five games in four days here and that was kind of a character win for us today, the guys are tired but they honed one today,” MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. called. “We had a lot of good bats, we played really well defensively and the pitching was great today so that was a recipe for a solid win against a very good club who took a big number from us about a month ago. It was good, to come out and throw it like we did.”
Michigan State leveled the season streak with WMU, with each visiting team winning after the Broncos defeated the Spartans 18-7 on April 13 in East Lansing.
Additionally, Wednesday was also homecoming for MSU’s current volunteer assistant Andrew Stein and Western Michigan alum (2015-19), and his father is Jeff Stone, Western Michigan’s Senior Associate Athletic Director, who oversees academic and compliance services.
Stone, as the current MSU head coach, was one of five coaching liaisons in the game Jake Boss Jr.WMU Head Coach Billy Gernon and MSU Assistant Coach/Pitching Coach Mark van Ameyde were on the Spartans staff together from 2009 to 2010 before Gernon left to become WMU head coach. Additionally, current WMU assistant coach Jordan Keur was on the Spartan team for four seasons (2016-19) and a four-year letterwinner at Michigan State (2010-13), where he played on the Spartan team in Gernon’s senior year.
Wednesday’s game was also a partnership between the Michigan State and Western Michigan baseball teams to host the “Day of Miracles” game to benefit the Southwest Michigan Miracle League (SMML), and local Miracle League athletes joined the Spartans and Broncos on the Field before the game at a special ceremony, introductions and the national anthem.
“Working with the Miracle League is something we are very proud of in our program and we have a longstanding relationship with the Mid-Michigan Miracle League. When Coach Gernon offered this opportunity to work with the Southwest Michigan Miracle League, it was something we just jumped on,” Boss said. “It’s such a special organization. I say every year I don’t know who anymore When we play with these children, them or us, it warms your heart and also makes you chill when you watch these children play and see the pure joy on their faces and to be part of a day like this is something very special.
After the national anthem, former MSU men’s basketball assistant head coach and newly appointed WMU head coach Dwayne Stephens threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
“DJ is a great guy. I’m very happy for him and the opportunity he’s getting here in Western Michigan. He’s going to do great things here,” Boss said. “He’s just a top notch guy, a hard worker and a guy who has always made time for us in our baseball program, whether it’s to share ideas or come to basketball practice or whatever, us even with recruits and things like that to help nature. So I think it’s a home run for westerns and I’m excited to see what DJ will do here.
Once the game had started, redshirt freshman pitcher Dominik Pianoto made the first start of his Spartan career with a solid 4.0 IP, scattering three hits without a run, delivering four walks and hitting three strikeouts to earn his first win.
junior reliever Wyatt Rush went 3.0 IP with two hits, a run and a walk before handing things over to another junior reliever Andrew Carsonwho had consecutive 1-2-3 innings to earn his second save of the season.
At the plate, MSU had 10 hits as the Spartans hit double digits for their third straight game as part of their fifth appearance in six games and six times in eight games.
Second infielder Dillon Kark was 2-for-4 on a run made and made several leather-flashing defensive plays at third base. Fellow sophomore infielder Mitch Jebb was also 2-for-4 with an RBI while he was a grad senior outfielder Peter Ahn was 1-on-1 with one base stolen and one run scored. Junior Outfielder Zayd Walker was scored 1-for-2 on one run while redshirt freshman catcher Christian Williams and second infielder Brock Vradenburg were both 1-to-3, with Williams posting an RBI. Junior Outfielder Casey Mayes was 1-for-4 and added a stolen bag. Second infielder Trent Farqhar was 1-for-5 while redshirt freshman was called a hitter Bryan Broecker registered no hit, but drew a walk along with Vradenburg and Walker.
MSU got on the board at the top of the third as Ahn led by laying down a beauty by Bunt on the third baseline. After Ahn stole second place, Kark singled down the left side to put Ahn in third place and Kark later finished second in a wild place. Williams followed up to left field with a flyball deep enough for Ahn to sack fly home. That put Jebb on the plate, and he jabbed through the right side of WMU infield to bring in Kark and give the Spartans a 2-0 lead.
WMU cut the gap in half with a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth.
The Spartans rallied at the top of seventh and charged bases as Walker, Kark and Jebb reached a fielder’s choice and two singles, respectively, and Walker scored the MSU insurance run on a bar of the WMU pitcher.
WMU threatened a leadoff single and later a one-out walk after the fans stretched and chanted, but Rush caused Kark to go 5-3 with a chopper and he finished third and then shot first over the infield to Vradenburg for the double game.
Trying to extend their lead at the top of eighth, Michigan State loaded bases again after Mayes singled and stole second, Vradenburg walked and Walker also later pulled a two-out walk but a fielder’s choice ended the frame.
Carson took the mound in the eighth and registered a three-up, three-down frame, chalking up strikeouts on the first two outs.
Williams led from ninth place with a single and advanced with a sac bunt, but MSU’s rally fizzled out.
Carson scored another 1-2-3 inning to end the game and seal the win for MSU.
With the frenetic period concluded, Michigan State has a day off Thursday before hosting Iowa, Friday through Sunday, May 13-15, in the final home games of the 2022 season at McLane Stadium in Kobs Field. Saturday is MSU Alumni Day and Sunday is Spartans Senior Day, honoring their three senior players. Peter Ahn, Kyle Bischoff and Zach Iversonalong with two managers, Aaron Boise and Tommy Merlo.
The Spartans and Hawkeyes open the series on Friday night at 6:35 p.m., before Alumni Day on Saturday at 4:05 p.m. with the first pitch and the series finale on Spartan Senior Day with a 1:05 p.m. start time.
The Spartans schedule is subject to change depending on the weather.
Along with any other schedule updates, fans can find the Watch Live, Listen Live, and Live Stats links when available on MSUSpartans.com to follow the upcoming action.