MSU ready to take the field after weather difficulties
As much as MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. would like to talk baseball, the questions of playing conditions and weather persist.
It’s not been the most pleasant spring for the MSU baseball team, as they’ve had five games postponed or cancelled thus far, including Wednesday’s makeshift home opener with Central Michigan. But despite the continued stretch of poor weather, the Spartans (13-7) are on a seven-game winning streak with Big Ten play set to open this weekend on the road against Ohio State.
Even with the field at McLane Baseball Stadium at Old College Field in an unplayable condition this week, sophomore catcher/first baseman Blaise Salter said the team has been able to get some work done outside, which will show up in different facets of their game.
“It’s nice to be out here and get back in Michigan and start playing again,” Salter said. “It’s good to be back where we’re comfortable. I mean, we’d obviously like to be warm, but we haven’t been able to be on the field since the fall.”
The Spartans practiced outside at McLane Baseball Stadium for several hours this week, completing drills and running in the outfield, while the infield remained mostly unusable due to the condition of the dirt.
Facing a similar weather predicament this week with two games cancelled because of weather, the Buckeyes (15-6 overall, 3-0 Big Ten) are set to host MSU for a three-game series at Bill Davis Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. The Buckeyes enter the series tied for first in the conference, having swept Purdue (7-14, 0-3) in the opening weekend of Big Ten play.
Despite both teams facing weather issues not ideal for baseball season, Boss said the mood of the Spartans is positive heading into Big Ten play with the team gunning for a shot at its second Big Ten championship in three seasons.
“Guys are chomping at the bit and everybody’s excited,” Boss said. “The atmosphere is better in the Big Ten and the excitement is there. You can kind of feel it build all week long before we get to that series.”
With obstacles abound early in the season, freshman outfielder Cam Gibson lauded the resiliency of the team to this point, classifying it as a strong point heading into the Big Ten season.
“We’re getting some games cancelled, we’re getting some moved around, but this team, we’re a battling team for sure,” Gibson said. “We’re not going to stop battling in the cages. We’re not gonna let the indoors deprive us from being as good as the other teams.”
The talk of the team this week undoubtedly has been about junior pitcher Chase Rihtarchik.
Rihtarchik hurled MSU’s first no-hitter since Nolan Moody in 2009 in an 122 pitch effort Saturday against Oakland,striking out three and walking three in an overall pitching gem. The effort earned Rihtarchik Big Ten Pitcher of the Week honors and launched his season with a grand start after missing last season with an injury.
Earlier this week, Rihtarchik said the experience of a no-hitter atmosphere was unlike any he’s experienced in his young baseball career.
“It was awesome,” Rihtarchik said. “Having the guys come up and give me hugs and celebrating with the team; it was great. It was probably something I’ll never forget.”