WEST LAFAYETTE, Mich. — Bailey Peterson propelled Michigan State baseball to a 7-4 victory at Purdue Sunday afternoon at Purdue’s Alexander Field, as the Spartans clinched their first road series win.
Junior designated hitter Peterson had missed several games recently with an injury but had a smashing return to the lineup Sunday, going 3-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored, as well as drawing a walk.
The Spartans rallied from an early 1-0 deficit, plating two runs in the third for a 2-1 lead and never trailed. MSU added a run in the top of the fourth, before the Boilermakers tied it with two in the bottom of the frame, but the visiting Spartans quickly countered with one in the fifth. Michigan State plated a pair in the top of the seventh, then Purdue scored one after the stretch, but the Spartans added a run in the top of the eighth for the 7-4 final score.
“I’m really proud of our guys. It didn’t start well for us today in the first. We had a lot of opportunities to lose focus or lose control of the game, but every time after the first that they put something on the board, we answered,” MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. said. “We got two in the third after really having nothing going in the first two; they got two in the fourth, but we came back with one in the fifth to more or less try get momentum back on our side; they get one in the seventh but we get one in the eighth. I’m just really proud of our guys for battling and for grinding, and it’s a road series win and that’s hard to do.”
MSU has won six of it last eight games and seven of last 10 contests.
“We didn’t have a whole lot of success early and it’s been tough sledding for us, admittedly and our record’s not where we would like it to be, but the one constant throughout everything is that our guys have played hard every time we’ve taken the field. That’s something that we pride ourselves on, that’s something that we’ve got a reputation for across the country is how hard we play. I give them a lot of credit because they’ve just kept playing hard, even on the mound, when it wasn’t going great, we figured out ways to get guys out and to make a few plays defensively behind our guys on the mound. I just can’t say enough about the character of this group,” Boss said.
Peterson singled in the third, doubled and later scored in the fourth, drew a bases-loaded RBI walk in the fifth and laced an RBI single in the seventh, before lining out to center in the ninth.
“It was good to get Bailey back in the lineup. They went left-handed with their starter, so we decided to have Bailey DH today. When they went right-handed (reliever), Bailey sees the ball pretty well and is a guy that work deep in the count, so he wasn’t going to chase a whole lot of pitches, and drew a big walk in that spot. He also hit the ball hard on a hit-and-run even in the ninth inning, they just made a nice play on it.”
Along with Peterson, the Spartan bats were lively, as MSU had a series-high 12 hits, marking the Spartans’ fourth game in the last eight with double-digit hits as part of the 14th time this season.
Freshman outfielder Zaid Walker was 3-for-5 with two runs, senior outfielder Dan Chmielewski was 2-for-6 with a run scored, while senior infielder Royce Ando was 1-for-4 with two RBI. Junior outfielder Bryce Kelley was 1-for-5, while sophomore infielder Zach Iverson and freshman infielder Reese Trahey were both 1-for-4, with Trahey tallying an RBI and a run scored. Senior infielder Marty Bechina added an RBI and a run scored.
“We had some other guys that I thought were pretty efficient at the plate,” Boss said. “Royce Ando with a couple RBI, with one on the big squeeze play with the bases loaded, might be a little unconventional, but he laid down a nice bunt, and had a big RBI there in the eighth. All around it was a good day for our guys.”
Junior starter Caleb Sleeman struck out six in 3.2 IP with three hits and three runs allowed, before giving way to freshman Colton Panaranto, who earned the win, going 3.0 IP with three Ks and only one run, improving to 3-0 on the season. Senior Evan Flohr came on in the seventh to get a big out and opened the eighth, before giving way to junior Indigo Diaz, who pitched the final six outs, with one strikeout and no hits or runs, to earn the save, his sixth of the season.
After the three games at Purdue were the Spartans only games this week due to Finals Week at MSU, Michigan State will look to continue the momentum into a five-game week upcoming. The busy week opens with a non-conference game at Michigan Tuesday, before hosting Valparaiso on Wednesday, then resuming Big Ten action with a three-game weekend series at Iowa.
“We try to go out and play the game hard, regardless of who we play,” Boss said. “It’s another road game for us on Tuesday, then a home game on Wednesday, so they’re both a chance to continue some momentum from the last two weekends, going into another big road series at Iowa next weekend. So we need to play well on Tuesday, need to follow again and play well on Wednesday and keep the momentum going.”
Purdue tallied a run in the home half of the first Sunday afternoon, scoring a run without a hit, with Skyler Hunter taking advantage of a wild pitch after a strikeout and reached first. Hunter then stole second and third after a walk to Cole McKenzie, and Hunter scored on another wild pitch, before a groundout ended the frame.
The Spartans plated a pair of runs in the third, loading the bases for Bechina, who drew an RBI bases loaded walk to score Trahey, who reached on a walk. Ando followed with a squeeze sacrifice bunt to plate Chmielewski, who got on after a single, but the rally fizzled with a lineout to end the inning, but not before MSU had a 2-1 lead.
Peterson sparked the Spartans’ two-out rally in the fourth with a double down the right field line. Trahey was up next and he singled to right and Peterson scampered home and slid in just ahead of the throw, and MSU had a 3-1 advantage.
Purdue countered with two runs in the bottom of the fourth frame, scoring on a pair of wild pitches to level the score at 3-3.
MSU generated its run in the fifth identical to the fourth, with a two-out rally, started this time by a Walker single through the left side. Sophomore catcher Adam Proctor was intentionally walked, but Iverson and Peterson both followed by drawing walks to score Walker, but a groundout ended the rally and left the bases full of Spartans, with the visitors taking a 4-3 lead.
Walker again started the MSU rally in the seventh, with a one-out double to right center and later scoring on Peterson’s RBI single to right. Proctor later came int to score on an error and the Spartans went ahead, 6-3.
Purdue got a run back after the stretch in the seventh, with Hunter again reaching on a wild pitch after a strikeout, moved to second on a single and later scored on another single to bring the Boilers within 6-4, but a flyout ended the rally.
The Spartans tacked on a run in the top of the eighth after Bechina reached by getting hit by a pitch and then stole second. Ando singled to center to plate Bechina and cap the game’s scoring at 7-4.
Diaz came on in the bottom of the eighth to relieve Flohr, and got the six-out, two-inning save, securing the Victory for MSU.
The Spartans have a five-game week next week, playing at Michigan on Tuesday, May 7 at 6 p.m. in a non-conference contest, that will be nationally televised, before hosting Valparaiso on Wednesday, May 8 at 5:05 p.m. at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field.
Any schedule updates due to weather will be announced onwww.MSUSpartans.com and on twitter @statebaseball.
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