MSU ready for home opener against Central Michigan
Nine days ago, Chase Rihtarchik was on top of the world.
In his second start since coming off an injury that forced him to miss the 2012 season, the junior pitcher Rihtarchik (2-0, 1.47 ERA) threw a complete-game no-hitter to lead the Spartans to a 3-2 victory against Oakland. It was the first no-hitter from the MSU baseball program since Nolan Moody in 2009, earning Rihtarchik Big Ten Pitcher of the Week honors.
Yet in baseball, a pitcher only is as good as his most recent start.
Rihtarchik will tow the rubber for the first time since his no-hit gem at 3:05 p.m. Tuesday as the Spartans (15-8 overall, 2-1 Big Ten) host Central Michigan (11-14, 2-4 Mid-American Conference) at McLane Baseball Stadium at Old College Field.
“Those guys understand that that kind of stuff doesn’t happen every day, and it was something that he’ll obviously remember for the rest of his life and was something really special to be a part of,”
MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. said of Rihtarchik. “Our guys understand that when you play this game, you can be good one day but if you don’t bring your best stuff the next day, it might not go so well.”
Since opening the season with a 6-7 record, the Spartans have reeled off nine wins in 10 games, including two of three in the team’s Big Ten opening series against Ohio State (16-8, 4-2).
After several weeks of sub-par baseball weather, opening day at McLane Baseball Stadium is long overdue. The Spartans have had five games postponed or cancelled this season and have battled snow and cold weather even on their early season southern tour.
The playing condition of the field rendered it unusable last week in the makeshift season home opener with the Chippewas.
MSU Sports Turf Manager Amy Fouty did not immediately return a call for comment on the field condition, but Boss said he expects it to be game ready.
“It’s kind of an anomaly I guess because last year, it was 80 degrees at this time,” he said. “You never quite know what you’re going to get weather-wise so it’s something north teams have to play in and it is what it is and we have to be ready to play.”
Getting into the thick of the schedule, the Spartans now are slated to play 20 games in the month of April, which includes the Crosstown Showdown with the Lansing Lugnuts on April 11 and the Clash at Comerica with the Chippewas on April 17.
The schedule will allow the team to continue to find its stroke at the plate as the team is ranked fifth in the Big Ten in batting average with a .275 mark — 50 points lower than the fourth-place Buckeyes.
At the plate and on the hill, Boss said his expectation for this upcoming week is for his team to build consistency to maintain its winning ways.
“We’re not expecting that but ultimately expecting some consistency out of our guys,” Boss said.
“We did not play well at all on Saturday and so, you know, hopefully we can find, as we settle in to things up here, find some consistency and string a