Spartans Down Butler, 9-2; 11-1 start tied for best in school history

MSU Baseball 2016.  Photo courtesy of MSU SID.
MSU Baseball 2016. Photo courtesy of MSU SID.

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - The Michigan State baseball team improved on its hot start to the season with a 9-2 victory over Butler on Friday afternoon in Port Charlotte, Fla. MSU is now 11-1 on the year, matching the 1946 team for the best start through 12 games in school history.

As its been all season long, the Spartans got contributions from up and down the lineup and tallied double digit hits for the seventh time this season to outhit the Bulldogs 15-6. The 7-9 hitters in the order (Dan Durkin, Chad Roskelly and Kris Simonton) combined to go 8-for-10 at the plate with three runs and four RBIs.

“These guys just compete,” said head coach Jake Boss Jr. “Guys at the bottom have played a lot of baseball, so they’re experienced guys. Kris is a senior and Dan is a junior. Those guys have seen a lot and know the game very well. They’ve been in a lot of situations, so they’re comfortable in those big spots.”

Starter Cam Vieaux earned the win to improve to 3-1 on the season. The junior pitched six innings and allowed two runs while striking out five.

Michigan State broke open a 4-0 lead in the second inning. Durkin got the scoring started with a sac fly and his 11th RBI of the season. Roskelly and Simonton then smacked back-to-back doubles to left to give the Spartans the early lead.

“Once we get those leads, it feels like we’re going to be very hard to beat that day,” said Simonton. “We have a great pitching staff from top to bottom. Anyone can throw it and we believe in those guys that they’re going to get outs.”

Vieaux ran into some trouble in the fourth after Butler strung together four singles and two runs. The lefty worked out of the jam and struck out Butler leadoff hitter Drew Small to strand two runners. He settled in after that and allowed just one base runner in his final two innings.

“Cam really competed today,” said Boss. “He probably didn’t have his best stuff. He had a problem locating his fastball, especially in their one inning, but he kept competing. That’s what you need your Friday guy to do.”

Dakota Mekkes came on in relief and allowed just one base runner on a walk in two innings. Five of the six outs he recorded came on strikeouts to give him 24 Ks on the year in 14 innings of work.

“We told him he doesn’t have to be too fine because he has such good stuff,” said Boss. “His ball is moving all over the place and it’s a swing and miss fastball and breaking ball. When he’s going after guys, there’s life in that arm and he’s tough to hit.”

The Spartans added some insurance runs in the eighth, batting around for the second time in the game and scoring five more runs to bring the game to its final, 9-2. Matt Byars led off the inning with a home run crushed deep over the left field fence. The next four batters reached and scored to put the game out of reach.

“We put in the work through the offseason and now is the fun part,” said Simonton. “We go out and play. I think we’re all really loose. We’ve got a great group of guys here. If someone is having a bad day, we’ll pick them up and we’re rolling because of that.”

Marty Bechina and Roskelly led the team with two RBIs each.