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Spartans face off against No. 12 Indiana




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Junior right handed pitcher Chase Rihtarchik pitches the ball Tuesday, April 9, 2013, at McLane Baseball Stadium at Old College Field. The Spartans defeated Western Michigan 10-1, with Rihtarchik’s record now at 4-0. Danyelle Morrow/The State News



The MSU baseball team not only will have to battle poor weather conditions this weekend, but it also will have to find a way to cool off a red-hot Indiana Hoosier team.

MSU (18-11 overall, 2-4 Big Ten) will host Big Ten-leading Indiana (26-4 overall, 8-1 Big Ten) for a three-game weekend series that kicks off at 3:05 p.m. Friday, with games at 1:05 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. All games will be played at McLane Baseball Stadium at Old College Field.

The Hoosiers enter the weekend series winning 19 of the past 20 games, while the Spartans are coming off a stretch where they dropped three straight games against Michigan last weekend, before an easy 10-1 win against Western Michigan on Tuesday.

The Spartans were on a hot streak of their own before the U-M series, winning 11 of the previous 12 games.

Head coach Jake Boss Jr. is optimistic, saying his team has forgotten about last weekend’s disappointing efforts against U-Mand is focused on the task at hand.

“We’ve moved on,” Boss said. “We have to understand that we have a lot of baseball left to play. If confidence was an issue, we probably wouldn’t have scored 10 runs on Tuesday and given up only three hits.”

Indiana boasts some of the best offensive numbers in the Big Ten, ranking first in batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, hits, runs batted in and runs scored in the conference.

The Hoosiers also have a strong pitching staff, ranking second in the Big Ten in ERA at 2.40, according to the Big Ten athletics website.

While Boss recognizes Indiana has a complete lineup that gives MSU “no room to relax,” he is confident his pitchers can compete with any team in the conference.

“Our pitching staff matches up with anybody,” Boss said about his staff, which holds a 3.33 ERA. “When our guys throw to their capacities, we can throw with anybody. The pitching is what’s kept us in ball games and why we have beaten some good ball clubs.”

Boss said the team will not look to make any dramatic changes to its strategy. MSU plans on playing to its strengths, competing during all nine innings and, hopefully, waiting for the right pitches.

With a Big Ten championship in mind, Boss said the goal is to win every series without stressing about falling out of the race, with plenty of games still on tap in conference play.

“They are all critical. In order to win a championship, you need to win series,” he said. “At the same time we have only played six conference games so we have 18 more to go, we are certainly in a spot where there is a lot of baseball to play. We’ve got some work to do to catch those guys.”


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