Jake Boss Jr. knew his team had power, but what Michigan State did against Illinois bordered on the ridiculous.
The Spartans’ first five hits Sunday were home runs — all in the first two innings — and they finished with eight in their 17-6 victory in Champaign, Illinois.
Brandon Hughes homered three times and Marty Bechina twice. Dan Durkin, Alex Troop and Dan Chmielewski each went deep once on a 62-degree afternoon when the wind was blowing straight out at 15 mph.
The Spartans finished the three-game sweep with 13 homers at Illinois Field, where the dimensions are 330 feet down the lines, 370 to the alleys and 400 to center.
“We got a lot of barrels to balls,” Boss said Monday. “There were probably a couple home runs that were wind-aided. The majority of them, honestly, were legitimate home runs.”
The eight home runs Sunday were the most in a Division I game this season. Illinois starter Luke Shilling gave up six of them in his four innings. Of the Spartans’ 13 hits, 11 were for extra bases.
The Spartans have hit a Big Ten-leading 28 homers in 20 games, two more than they hit in 56 games last season. Bechina leads the team with six, and Hughes, Durkin and Zack McGuire have four apiece.
Michigan State (15-5, 3-0 Big Ten) leads the conference with 8.6 runs per game and a .306 batting average. At No. 24, the Spartans are the Big Ten’s top RPI team, with three of their five losses to top-10s Clemson and South Carolina.
Rival Michigan, Maryland, Indiana and Nebraska were the Big Ten teams that received most of the attention coming into the season. The Spartans, now in a three-way tie for first with Minnesota and Indiana, were mostly an afterthought.
“It’s fine,” Boss said. “For us, really, we try not to pay a lot of attention to that. Any time somebody in our conference gets recognition, I think it’s good for our league. Our league has been very good the last couple year and we’re starting to get more of…