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Baseball team will concentrate on scoring, not defense, to win

March 28, 2001

Today was supposed to be the home opener for the MSU baseball team, but instead the Spartans will have to wait a couple more days to get a taste of some home cooking.

MSU was originally scheduled to play Eastern Michigan in Ypsilanti on Tuesday and today at Kobs Field, but due to poor conditions at the field, the two teams will play a doubleheader at Eastern starting at 1 p.m today.

The Spartans home opener will now be against Purdue on Friday at Kobs.

MSU head coach Ted Mahan said Ypsilanti didn’t get as much snow in recent days as Lansing did, so he decided to change the site of the game rather than cancel it.

“There was an outside chance we could’ve played (today) at home, but we didn’t want to take a chance,” he said. “We need to play so our hitters can get at-bats, so our pitchers get to pitch. It’s just important to play and not where we play.”

MSU is 10-8 on the season and is coming off a successful series against defending Big Ten tournament champion Illinois in Champaign, taking two of three games from the Illini. It was supposed to be a four game series, but Sunday’s game was snowed out.

The old baseball maxim of winning with pitching and defense has been thrown out the window by the Spartans, as they are averaging nearly eight runs a game.

Junior infielder Jared Koutnik, who is fourth on the team with a .348 batting average, said the offensive success has been a matter of the team sticking with a plan the coaching staff laid out for them in the fall.

“(We’re) being aggressive on the field, being aggressive at the plate, putting up runs and we’re going to hope our pitching staff gets it down,” he said. “One of our team quotes is that if we score five runs, we should win. If we score seven runs, we should definitely win.”

The Spartans will have to continue their hot hitting against the Eagles, a team that has given them trouble in the past.

“They’ve always played us tough - I think we’ve split with them the last four or five years,” Koutnik said. “They’ll give us a go and plus we’re playing on the road again, so it will be interesting.”

Junior right-hand reliever Domanick Squires said it’s important the Spartans sweep the Eagles, especially since they will be playing guys he competed against in high school.

“I want to take two - that’s a huge thing,” he said. “They’re right down the road and we’ve got to take two from them because we haven’t done it yet - we’ve always split with them.”

After today’s doubleheader, MSU will have played its first 22 games of 2001 away from home. The upside to all the road games is that the Spartans will play 22 of their remaining 35 games at home.

Squires said all the road games the team has played will be a benefit in the long run.

“It is rough because we’ve played all our games on the road, but we’ve done real good on the road,” he said. “So when we come home, we’re going to probably do even better at home than we have on the road.”

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