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Chicago - Mark Prior will return back to the major league, making his first start with the Chicago Cubs on Friday after spending the first two months of the season on the disabled list.
Prior, who has been sidelined with an inflamed right Achilles' tendon and sore right elbow, was impressive in his third rehab start Sunday when he allowed three hits and two runs while striking out 10 in 5 1-3 innings for Triple-A Iowa.
Prior pitched the first two games of his rehab tour with the Lansing Lugnuts and defied conservative estimates - pitching an extra inning in his second game to help the 'Nuts turn the tables on the West Michigan Whitecaps to win 7-6.
During both games with the 'Nuts, Prior allowed just one hit and one walk, and threw 13 strikeouts in a combined 7 1/3 innings.
Now, he's ready to return to the Cubs and will face the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday at Wrigley Field.
Lansing- A 10:35 a.m. start time is difficult for any baseball player, but an early game following a 3 1/2 hour, 11-inning game the night before would cause any team to get off to a sluggish start.
That's exactly what happened Wednesday morning as the Lansing Lugnuts struggled to find any hits for the first four innings, before the Lugnuts rediscovered their bats to pull out a 3-1 win over the West Michigan Whitecaps.
"It's a little hard to get up in the morning and it took a few innings for us to wake up," Lansing left fielder Kevin Collins said.
Neither team came close to scoring early.
As MSU junior pitcher Jon Kowalski tagged first base for the final out to secure the Spartans' 8-7 victory over Northwestern, his teammates erupted into celebration.
The victory over Northwestern Sunday ensured the Spartans the No.
For the first time in 25 years, the MSU baseball team has a chance at a Big Ten title.
The Spartans (30-22, 17-11 Big Ten) face Northwestern this weekend at Kobs field in the final four-game series of the Big Ten season.
MSU is third in the Big Ten race, two games behind conference-leading Minnesota and one game behind Ohio State.
The MSU baseball team kept its hopes alive for a Big Ten title by winning its weekend series at Penn State after a 7-4 victory Sunday afternoon.
Lansing - The Spartans said they wanted a tune-up for their series against Michigan this weekend.
Eastern Michigan provided it.
The MSU baseball team (21-18 overall) used a seven-run third inning and a handful of pitchers to defeat the Eagles 12-8 Wednesday night in front of more than 2,100 fans at Oldsmobile Park.
"We're swinging the bats well," said MSU manager Ted Mahan, whose team tallied 14 hits and scored 12 runs for the second-straight game.
The MSU baseball team faces Eastern Michigan tonight at Oldsmobile Park, home of the Lansing Lugnuts.
Each year, MSU plays a couple of contests at the stadium, so does playing at Oldsmobile Park ever lose its luster?
"No, not at all," MSU manager Ted Mahan said.
On paper, the MSU baseball team outplayed the Boilermakers this weekend.
The Spartans scored more runs (17-15), had more hits (30-25) and slammed more home runs (4-1). All the numbers point to a successful weekend, right?
Except for the fact the Spartans didn't light up the scoreboard until Sunday, when they scored 12 runs, had 15 hits and laced three of their four home runs.
Sunday's 12-1 slaughter ended the weekend on a high note, but it didn't erase the fact MSU lost the first three games by a combined score of 14-5 and, in the process, had lost six straight Big Ten games.
"It's definitely disappointing," said freshman first baseman Sean Walker, who went 6-for-14 over the weekend and was the only Spartan to record a hit in each game.
The MSU baseball team knows that calling this weekend important is an understatement.
With Ohio State on top of the Big Ten and four teams packed just one game back, this weekend might create some separation.
The Spartans (19-15 overall, 7-5 Big Ten) begin their four-game series against the Boilermakers (16-17, 6-6) at 3 p.m.
Lansing - On the first Thirsty Thursday of the season at Oldsmobile Park, the Lansing Lugnuts were hungry to get their third win in a row.
The Lugnuts (9-5) did just that, beating the Beloit Snappers, 2-0, on the inaugural in-park cheap beer fest.
It was a typical MSU-Central Michigan baseball contest coming down the stretch.
The teams were neck and neck, and whenever one seemed to gain the momentum, the other would charge back to even the score.
But Wednesday, it was the Spartans who stole and kept the momentum in the late innings, downing the Chippewas at Kobs Field, 9-4.
"They always play us tough," MSU manager Ted Mahan said.
Since the start of the Big Ten season, the Spartans have become accustomed to an assortment of things: a 21-game hitting streak by junior right fielder Travis Gulick, first place in the conference and a 12-game winning streak.
The Spartans felt so invincible, and who could blame them?
Against the talented Buckeyes, MSU knew its 12-game home winning streak and its standing atop the Big Ten would be in jeopardy.
After winning Friday's game, 10-7, a victory that kept the Spartans in sole possession of first place in the conference, MSU dropped its next three games against Ohio State, 8-7, 19-2 and 12-10.
"We gave up 46 runs this weekend and we couldn't catch the ball," MSU manager Ted Mahan said.
For the first time in years, the MSU baseball team is in the crosshairs - everyone is aiming for it.
Typically known for having solid nonconference seasons but struggling in the Big Ten, MSU (17-12 overall, 6-2 Big Ten) is having a surprising season - one that mirrors this year's Detroit Tigers.
Jay Alexander was so excited that his team was playing the Spartans at Oldsmobile Park this season, he thought it was a mistake.
The Wayne State manager, whose team is a traditional nonconference opponent for the Spartans (16-12 overall, 6-2 Big Ten), did a double-take when he looked at the Warriors' 2004 schedule when it came out.
"I wanted to make sure it was correct before I called (MSU's) coach - I didn't want him to change his mind," Alexander said.
The red-hot MSU baseball team's (16-12 overall, 6-2 Big Ten) winning streak was extinguished at 12 games after losing their final two contests in a weekend series with Illinois (10-16, 3-5).
MSU head baseball coach Ted Mahan said his team is tired and that is a factor that played into the Spartans' streak being snapped this weekend.
There is the Izzone, Slapshots, Corner Blitz and now a new kid on the block of the MSU cheering sections - Kobs Korner.
Kobs Korner is the beloved student section of the MSU baseball team (14-10). An MSU baseball team that is 10-0 at home this season, courtesy of a little help from the Korner.
"It's been fantastic," MSU head coach Ted Mahan said.
After the MSU baseball team romped Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne at Kobs Field on Wednesday, manager Ted Mahan called baseball a "streaky game."
His observation is especially fitting for the Spartans, considering they just won their 10th straight game and junior outfielder Travis Gulick extended his hitting streak to 20 games.
The Spartans (14-10) annihilated IPFW (11-18) in all phases of the game in their 12-1 win.
With the Spartans riding a nine-game winning streak, Travis Gulick's play probably has gone unnoticed by most.
On Tuesday, however, the Big Ten recognized the junior right fielder's achievements by giving him co-Big Ten Player of the Week honors.
"It was really a surprise to me," Gulick said.
If the first four games of the Big Ten season are any indication of how MSU's season will go, finishing in the top half of the league won't be a problem.
The Spartans baseball team dominated the Hawkeyes over the weekend, recording the team's first four-game sweep since 1990 while earning the conference's top spot.
"We'd certainly rather be there than the alternative," head coach Ted Mahan said.