Michigan State plays first game, goes on cultural tour of historic Santa Domingo, has mental skills session.
BOCA CHICA, Dominican Republic (MSU Athletics) -- Michigan State baseball had an active first full day of action in the Dominican Republic on Sunday, Dec. 16.
The Spartans opened the day with their first game of the trip in the morning, taking on the Dominican Republic Air Force at Pimental Academy Field and playing to a 5-5 tie. MSU jumped out to a 5-0 lead, boosted by a three-run top of the third, betting an RBI double from junior infielder Justin Antoncic, an RBI single by junior outfielder Bryce Kelley and an RBI double by senior infielder Marty Bechina. MSU added two more runs in the top of the fifth on an RBI single from junior outfielder Danny Gleaves and another RBI double by Antoncic.
Junior pitcher Indigo Diaz started and fired 2.0 innings with three strikeouts and only one hit. Senior Evan Flohr also chalked up 2.0 innings, not yielding a hit and striking out two, while not allowing a hit. Sophomore Zach Iverson, junior Mitchell Tyranski, junior Caleb Sleeman and junior Jarret Olson also saw action on the mound.
The Dominican Republic Air Force team rallied with a run in the sixth, followed by four in the seventh to tie it. However, the Spartans tightened up and didn’t allow the go-ahead run, getting out of the jam in the seventh, then ended the game catching a potential runner trying to steal home. The game ended in a 5-5 tie because of time restraints.
“I was pleased with how the guys competed today. I think we were excited to play,” MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. said. “We did a lot of good things, just had one tough inning, but if you play well in eight of the nine innings, overall, for not having been together as a team for nearly two months, I thought it was a good day.”
After the game, MSU returned to the hotel for lunch, dining on Dominican Republic cuisine, then departed in the afternoon for a tour of colonial Santa Domingo, known as Ciudad Colonial. The team got a tour of Fort Ozama, one of the first settlements and the oldest fort of the Americas, later home to Diego Columbus, son of Christopher Columbus. It was declared a World Heritage Site. The team continued its tour of Ciudad Colonial, seeing Alcazar de Colon and Cathedral de Santa Maria la Menor.
“One of the main reasons that we wanted to come down here was to give our guys the experience of seeing another culture and seeing some history,” Boss said. “For a lot of our guys, this is their first time out of the country, so to get a chance to see buildings that are over 500 years old and hear stories how they were the first buildings and streets in the Americas is a really important educational piece for our guys as we get to experience this down here.”
Upon returning to the hotel, the Spartans had more DR cuisine for dinner and then had a mental skills session with David Franco, a mental skills coach with the Seattle Mariners organization.
“I think it’s something that we’ve addressed for the last couple years and for those guys to hear Franco come in and really kind of give them an idea of what they do at the professional level is really important. The mental side of the game is extremely important and it’s not to be overlooked and the fact that he works with pro guys that are undrafted and guys that are first-round draft picks and anywhere in between, and guys that make baseball their life and livelihood and their job, and understanding that if it’s important for them, it’s important for us as well,” Boss said.
Monday’s action includes a split squad game, with part of the team taking on a team from the Dominican Republic Navy, while another team taking on Tabaqueros. MSU will then have some time at the beach in the afternoon, before attending a Dominican Republic Winter League game in the evening.