EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Coming into the day, Michigan State senior outfielder Bryce Kelley was one stolen base away from becoming the school’s all-time leader.
Sitting at 79 career stolen bases, Kelley wasted no time swiping number 80. A walk in the first inning led to Kelley stealing third base, and capturing the record.
Kelley passes Anthony Cheky’s (2012-15) previous record of 79.
“It feels really good,” Kelley said after the game. “I feel kind of relieved on two levels. One, I’m just really proud of what I accomplished. It’s something I never would have really dreamed of here, but on a second level I’m just kind of relieved it’s over, glad we can kind of move on from this and start winning some games here.”
“We’ve been playing baseball here for 137 years, and so for anybody to set any kind of school record, I think is a really, really monumental achievement and Bryce has earned that,” MSU coach Jake Boss Jr. said.
After last season was cut short, due to COVID-19, the senior was faced with two options. Come back for another season, after all athletes were granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA, or leave school and start working full-time.
“He’s one of the smartest players we’ve ever coached, he’s one of the most mature guys,” MSU coach Jake Boss Jr. said. “He was all set to take a job last summer and his employer basically said ‘go back to school for your second senior season after COVID’, and thank god he was able to do that.”
“He’s worked very hard, his coaches have worked him very well, very hard, and the teammates have been great,” Ryan Kelley, Bryce’s father said. “Very proud of his record.”
Kelley set MSU’s single season stolen base record back in 2018 when he stole 33 bases. Of the 80 stolen bases in his career, most of them weren’t by design.
“When he’s on the bases, when he’s at the plate, you just have to step back and let him do his thing because he’s one of the more intelligent people that we’ve had,” Boss Jr. said. “I don’t know that I’ve given him the steal sign more than once or twice in his career.”
“A lot of trial and error, my first couple years, it was a growth process, a lot of learning, watching the guys before me,” Bryce Kelley said. “Just not being afraid of failure, I would say is a big part of it as well.”
As for the game itself, Michigan State scored two runs in the first inning, and went on to beat Purdue 5-2.
Nick Powers was dealing on the mound for MSU. The freshman pitched a career-high 7.2 inning and struck out a career-high seven batters, while giving up one run on 116 pitches. And naturally, Powers felt he had a few more in him.
“After I got the strikeout, for the second out in the eighth, I just wanted to get one more out and complete the eight,” Powers said. “Obviously, pitch count was getting pretty high so it was my time to come out.”
“The command was really good today, multiple pitches on both sides of the plate for strikes. Happy for him getting his second win,” Boss Jr. said.