Spartans head to Ann Arbor for what could be biggest series of the season
Head coach Jake Boss Jr. and the Spartanshave one goal in mind for this weekend — to win the series.
This goal is the standard for MSU in every matchup, especially when it comes to conference play. The Spartans will have to take the series from their biggest rivals and conference contenders — the University of Michigan.
MSU will come into the weekend with a 28-10 overall record and 8-4 in the Big Ten, which ranks third in the league. U-M is also 28-10 on the season coming into the weekend set, but have a half-game lead over the Spartans with an 8-3 record in conference play,
This series may end up as one of the most important throughout the entire season for MSU, as it will pave the way for the final standings leading into the Big Ten Tournament. The Wolverines are a test that the Spartans must pass if MSU will see success past the conference tourney, and here will be some of the biggest things to look for during the weekend set.
Fight fire with fire
The Spartans and the Wolverines are two eerily similar teams. Apart from their similar record, the two rivals have nearly identical team stats.
Collectively, UM is hitting .307 as a team, which ranks second in the conference only behind Minnesota, who is hitting an astounding .324 as a ball club on the season, MSU ranks third in the league, hitting .302 on the year. Both teams have four hitters with plus-.300 batting averages, and MSU junior first baseman Jordan Zimmerman is leading the conference, hitting .403 this season,
From the mound, the Spartans have a slight edge statistically. MSU is leading the Big Ten with a 2.37 team ERA, while Michigan ranks fifth in the conference with a 3.52 ERA.
Home field can be an advantage
In this unique three game series, games one and three will be played in Ann Arbor, while game two will be played in East Lansing. This season, UM is 11-2 in home games and will look to defend their turf, especially against the rival Spartans.
Michigan will also have a chip on their shoulder, looking to rebound from an earlier 11-5 loss against MSU back on April 12.
The makeup in this series will be a tad different, however, with the conference standings on the line. Redshirt junior Cam Vieaux (6-2, 1.46 ERA) is expected to start on the mound for MSU on Friday night, with first pitch set for 6 p.m. Ethan Landon (5-1, 2.01 ERA) will start game two for MSU back at McLane Baseball Stadium in East Lansing, and Joe Mockbee (0-0, 3.13 ERA) will start game three for the Spartans back in Ann Arbor.
Coverage for Friday’s game will be televised on BTN, along with an audio stream provided by SSN and live tweeting from @thesnews_sports.