Thursday, May 23, 2024

Baseball team ready for home-game stretch

March 30, 2001

After spending its first month of the season traveling on buses and planes to other teams’ diamonds, the MSU baseball team will finally get a chance to play on their home field today.

The Spartans (12-8 overall, 2-1 Big Ten) will open their home schedule against Big Ten rival Purdue at 2 p.m. at Kobs Field.

Today’s game will be the first of a four game series against the Boilermakers, with the remaining three games of the series being played at Oldsmobile Park in Lansing. The teams will play a doubleheader Saturday before concluding the series Sunday.

MSU head coach Ted Mahan said being at home is an important advantage for the Spartans because in addition to being familiar with the surroundings, his team will now have the last at-bat.

“It’s comforting to know that if you need a run to tie or win the game at the end, you get the last swing of the bat,” he said. “After spending our first 20 games on the road, we’re looking forward to being at home.”

Catcher and senior tri-captain Rick Court said the team expects a good crowd for its home opener, especially with their record and the fact they’re opening up against a conference foe.

“It’s the first time we get to play in front of the home fans and stuff and given the success we’ve had so far, we’re probably going to have a better crowd than we have in the past for a home opener,” he said.

The series this weekend will feature two teams going in opposite directions.

MSU is sporting a four-game winning streak and is coming off an impressive doubleheader sweep of Eastern Michigan on Wednesday, lambasting the Eagles 14-2 and 8-2.

Meanwhile, Purdue has struggled to a 6-14 record and is 1-2 in Big Ten play. Despite their slow start, Mahan said the Boilermakers are a solid team with good pitching and the Spartans must play well to win.

“Their record doesn’t reflect at all what they’re about,” he said. “We expect a battle.”

Court said the team should have success this weekend if the Spartans don’t take the Boilermakers lightly and continue to play good baseball.

“I’m sure they’re going to be a strong team like everybody else,” he said. “We just got to come out and keep playing like we’ve been playing.”

With the team being four games above .500 and about to play 22 of their next 35 games at home, the Spartans are setting their sights on accomplishing big things the rest of the season.

Junior right-hander Dylan Putnam said in addition to aiming for a Big Ten title, the Spartans are looking to be a factor in the tournament.

“Besides being very talented, we have a good mix of younger players and older experienced guys who get along really well,” he said.

Court said he and other upperclassmen on the roster are happy with the way the team has started the season given the Spartans have struggled with slow starts and below .500 play in recent years.

“Having such a good start - the sky is the limit right now,” he said. “That’s how everybody feels.”

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