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Michigan State Baseball clinches berth in Big Ten Tournament

MSU baseball continues to surprise.



Michigan State baseball
© Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

Michigan State baseball has locked up a berth in the Big Ten Tournament, the Spartans’ first trip since 2018.

For the first time since 2018, the Michigan State baseball team will be playing in the Big Ten Tournament after their win on Friday night over Indiana. The Spartans will be one of eight teams that will be playing in Ohama.

Going into the series with Indiana, Michigan State was tied with Purdue for the 8-seed, and the Spartans needed to, at the very least, have the same result as the Boilermakers. Going into the first game, Purdue ended up losing to Nebraska and Michigan State was going up against one of the best pitchers in the Big Ten, Luke Sinnard.

The Indiana ace is on pace to have the most strikeouts in a season for Indiana and that continued against Michigan State. Luke’s 12-6 curveball was dancing all night as the first six outs were via strikeout. He ended the night giving up five earned runs and part of that was Michigan State’s hitting finally getting going in the bottom of the sixth. As the first game progressed, Michigan State continued to get on base and ended up winning the first game of the series 8-6. With the Purdue loss and Michigan State win, the Spartans either needed one more loss from Purdue or one more win to clinch their spot and they got it.

Heading into game two, Michigan State needed the win because Purdue won earlier in the day. Michigan State really did not want to go into the last game of the season needing either a win or a loss by Purdue and that showed in the urgency that they played with.

After a scoreless first inning, the offense started to click. Indiana took the lead early before Michigan State tied it in the bottom of the third. That would be the last time that the game would be tied because Michigan State would go on to score three runs. The reason Michigan State was able to extend its lead was because of Harrison Cook who tossed six innings with no earned runs after taking over for the starter Nolan Higgins.

Michigan State seemed to be in control after the third inning but things got interesting and scary for the Spartans at the top of the ninth. When your team brings in their closer in the ninth inning, you would hope that things would be drama-free that was not the case.

If you either watched the game or attended it, you noticed that the ump wasn’t calling that high pitch a strike and fans were getting frustrated. It did not seem to affect Wyatt Rush but this made things interesting. Indiana ended up walking in a run and scoring a run on a throwing error. With two outs and the bases loaded, the Hoosiers were a base hit away from taking the lead. Rush located his pitch extremely well and a ball barreled up by Hunter Jessee lined out right to the centerfielder Greg Ziegler and that was the final out.

The fans went absolutely crazy and the team rushed the field as Rush threw his hands up in celebration as Michigan State got the win that they needed.

For anyone watching the game, you could tell how much this win meant to the Michigan State baseball program. Not only was this a second straight win against one of the best teams in the Big Ten but this win meant a streak of missing the Big Ten Tournament was finally over.

While some fans might think being the 8-seed isn’t great, this is a great step forward for a program that has struggled since 2016. Not only has the program not made the Big Ten Tournament since 2018, it hasn’t had a winning record since 2016.

Michigan State currently has a record of 32-19 and has the opportunity to sweep Indiana on Saturday for Senior Day. While this season has been great for all involved, I’m sure for all the seniors, making it to the Big Ten Tournament for the first time in their career means a lot to them. The program is going to play more baseball after Saturday’s game and that is important as this team is a pretty young team that seems like they are headed in the right direction and going to the Big Ten Tournament is just the start of that.


Why is Mat Ishbia ending NIL sponsorship with Michigan State?

There’s a legit reason for this.



Mat Ishbia
© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mat Ishbia ended his NIL sponsorship with Michigan State athletics on Friday and there’s a good reason why that happened.

It has been just under four months since the NBA approved Mat Ishbia’s bid to become the majority owner of the Phoenix Suns and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury. Since then, a lot has changed for the former Michigan State walk-on.

According to a press release on Friday, Ishbia is now ending his NIL agreement with the Spartan Athletic Department.

After the Name, Imagine, and Likeness regulations were placed in effect back in 2021, Ishbia’s company, United Wholesale Mortgage, quickly announced a deal to be the first of its kind. The new program was to pay MSU student-athletes on the football team and men’s basketball teams $700 per month. In exchange for the money, athletes would send out social media posts advertising UWM. It expanded last fall to include volleyball players as well. This was to be used as a recruiting tool. It would show that MSU’s NIL programs would be competitive nationally and convince athletes to attend.

Spartan fans have speculated that the deal could have to be terminated now that Ishbia has taken over in Phoenix. That turned out to be the case. In a letter sent today, UWM stated, “As an owner of two professional sports teams, it was asked that Mat/UWM discontinue this NIL partnership to avoid any actual or perceived conflicts of interest.”

Since 2020, Mat has been Michigan State’s largest public donor. He has committed almost $50 million to the Spartan Athletic Department on top of these NIL programs. These funds have been used in remodeling/expanding athletic buildings, funded the construction of the new Tom Izzo Football Building, and helped get Mel Tucker’s 10-year, $95 million contract extension finalized. His money has also helped build the “Spartans for Life Fund” which assists with career development and life after athletics.

Mat was a walk-on for the MSU Basketball team under Tom Izzo back in 1999. He did win a national championship with Izzo. Mat often credits his time on the team for teaching him skills needed to excel in the professional world. He became the CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage in 2013 and brought the company public in 2021 making him a billionaire. He submitted his bid to the NBA for the Phoenix Suns/Phoenix Mercury in December 2022. That bid ended up being approved and finalized for $4 billion.

MSU thanked Mat Ishbia in a statement today released from the athletic department. They said they are “deeply appreciative” of his continued support for the department and credited him for all the transformations above. UWM stated they and Mat will “continue to remain dedicated to supporting Michigan State University and their athletic programs and will continue to do so within the guardrails established.”

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Michigan State baseball season ends with winning record

Not a bad season for the Spartans.



Michigan State baseball
© Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

Michigan State baseball lost its second Big Ten Tournament game on Friday and was eliminated. It ends 2023 with a winning record.

With a 4-0 loss to Nebraska on Friday night in the Big Ten Tournament, the Michigan State baseball season is officially over.

There wasn’t much the offense could do against Will Walsh as they were held to only four hits all night. There were moments when the offense was just one hit away or one near-home run away from tying the game but Michigan State just could not get it done and you have to tip your hat to the Nebraska pitcher.

You might look at the score and think the game was not close but there wasn’t much of a difference between the two teams outside of clutch hitting. Michigan State got a great performance from its starting pitcher as he only allowed one run. This game was close until Nebraska opened the scoring back up with three runs in the eighth. Two of those runs came off of a weird bounce that went over the first baseman’s head. This put Michigan State behind and it was too late for the Spartans to respond.

With this loss, Michigan State now has to look forward to next season after the successful year it just completed.

This season is something that should show fans that the program is on the right track. After years of Michigan State baseball being at the bottom of the Big Ten, this team went into the Big Ten Tournament and got an upset win, and battled against No. 1 seed Maryland and No. 4 seed Nebraska.

This team also achieved the first winning record since 2016 and an appearance in the Big Ten Tournament. It also included young players contributing all over the field and multiple players that could be drafted in the MLB draft but have the chance to come back. There will be another article about the bright future of Michigan State baseball especially with it being a young team later in the coming weeks but right now, it’s important to recognize this team for a great season.

Michigan State will be losing a couple of seniors that will be missed and this isn’t probably the way the team wanted to end their season, but this week’s performances against the top teams in the Big Ten not only demonstrate that Michigan State can have great pitching which has been a big issue in recent history. If this team can keep the majority of their starting lineup, they will have a chance to be even better next year as the pitching staff should return mostly everyone.

Congrats to the baseball team on an improved season and I look forward to seeing what happens in the offseason for this team, as there are big decisions that have to be made for some players.

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Michigan State baseball wins first Big Ten Tournament game since 2016

The baseball team is ending more droughts.



Michigan State baseball
© Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

Michigan State baseball ended another long drought, winning its first Big Ten Tournament game since 2016 on Thursday.

The season of droughts ending for the Michigan State baseball team continues.

We have seen the Spartans record a winning record for the first time since 2016 and making the Big Ten Tournament for the first time since 2018. With the win on Thursday against Rutgers, the streak of not winning a game in the Big Ten Tournament ends at seven years. 

Thursday’s game against Rutgers wasn’t perfect. Michigan State had similar issues to what it had in its first game, which was against Maryland. Michigan State left so many players on base that it probably drove Jake Boss crazy. In both games, Michigan State left over 10 players on base and you’re usually not going to win many games doing that.

While the offense did not show up, the pitching did and that is the reason they beat Rutgers. This offense has kept the team going all season but when it mattered the most, this pitching staff has done what it has needed to.

With Nick Powers’ pitching performance on Wednesday, only allowing three runs to one of the most elite offenses in college baseball, to Wyatt Rush’s pitching performance on Thursday, the pitching staff has kept this team in the tournament.

The pitching performance by Rush on Thursday was one that fans might not have expected. Rush, who is a senior and the typical closer, stepped into the game with bases loaded and one out with the game tied. He ended the inning by only allowing one run and gave Michigan State a chance and finally, the offense finally responded with two runs in the eighth inning. Rush came out in the bottom of the ninth and finished the job.

This win continues the season for the baseball team and shows that the program is headed in the right direction. To all the players, this is the first win they have experienced in Omaha.

If you haven’t had the chance to watch this team, you should because this team is playing well against some of the best teams in the Big Ten. You also might not see a few of these players again at Michigan State and they deserve our support.

Michigan State baseball has no room for error anymore. If it wants to win the whole Big Ten Tournament, it not only has to continue to pitch well, the offense has to show up more often. If the Spartans are able to win a few more in a row, they would have a chance to be the first team to win the Big Ten Tournament from the loser bracket in a long time.

If you have time, make sure to tune into the Big Ten Network on Friday as Michigan State will look to continue its run.

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