Spartans rally for 7-6 comeback win over Niagara

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Erin Grady

EAST LANSING — Fresh off of a 9-0 victory on Friday evening, the Michigan State baseball team looked to win their second game in as many days to clinch the series against 18-8 Niagara. Going into Saturday, the 13-14 Spartans won three straight games and netted their first shutout in over two years in the series opener with the Purple Eagles.

After two innings of scoreless baseball, Niagara came out swinging to open the third frame. Catcher Tommy Takayoshi hit a ground ball that got past Ryan McKay for a base hit, and right fielder Nate Milk scored Takayoshi on an RBI triple. Center fielder Nick Groves extended the Niagara lead to two runs after knocking a double to the right field hill.

Despite the early deficit, the Spartans fought their way back into it, after a Nick Williams double gave the Spartans runners on second and third with one out. A groundout from McKay put them within one run, and a two-run double from Jacob Anderson gave the Spartans a 3-2 lead.

The Michigan State lead did not last long though, as Milk continued his dominant afternoon at the plate. The sophomore outfielder hit a mammoth grand slam to left field to put the Purple Eagles up 6-3.

At the plate, Michigan State rallied to tie the game up at six, aided by a double off the wall from senior infielder Dillon Kark, as well as McKay’s second RBI of the contest. In the bottom of the sixth, Nick Williams hit a single that plated Kark as MSU retook the lead.

Senior southpaw Nick Powers got the start for the Spartans, looking to build on the dazzling nine-strikeout performance from Joseph Dzierwa yesterday. Powers struggled at points, allowing seven hits and six earned runs in six innings pitched, racking up six punchouts and two walks, with most of the damage being done in two innings of work.

“I thought it was a gutty performance by our guys. I’m proud of them,” Michigan State head coach Jake Boss said. “Nick Powers hung in there, he had two rough innings there in the middle but he bounced back, held them there, and gave our offense a chance.”

Aaron Mishoulam replaced Powers to open the seventh inning and pitched the remaining three innings for the Spartans, quickly escaping a jam following a Brady Desjardins double. In the ninth inning, a double from Groves put the tying run in scoring position for Niagara and the winning run at the plate. With Groves on third, Mishoulam was able to secure the final out and collect the save, giving the Spartans a 7-6 victory.

Dillon Kark and Nick Williams led the way for MSU, with Kark going 3-4 and reaching base four times for the Spartans.

“I think the baseball gods were on my side today,” Kark said. “I didn’t quite smack around the ball but the hits were falling so I’ll take it when I can get them. It was an overall good day and I look forward to bringing that into tomorrow.”

With the victory, Michigan State clinched the weekend series over Niagara and improved their record to 14-14 on the young season. The Spartans host the Purple Eagles in the final game of the weekend series, scheduled for 1:05 p.m. first pitch on Sunday before hosting Central Michigan at McLane Stadium on Tuesday.

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