Sunday, June 16, 2024

Spartans try to make Big Ten tourney

April 20, 2001
MSU sophomore outfielder Brett Wattles, right, dives back to first base in an attempt to avoid a tag from Western Michigan first baseman Mike Scott during a game last Tuesday at Kobs Field.

It will be a battle of bottom-feeders trying to move up in the standings this weekend when the MSU baseball team hosts a four-game series against Northwestern.

The Spartans are currently ninth in the conference with a 4-10 record, but they could propel themselves past the Wildcats into eighth place with a good weekend. Northwestern is 4-8 in the conference.

The teams will play at 3 p.m. today, a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. Saturday and a single game, also starting at 1 p.m., Sunday. All games are at Kobs Field.

Battling for eighth place may not seem very important, but for a team that needs to finish in the top six to qualify for the conference tournament, every game is big from now on.

“If we come out on top this weekend, we’ll definitely be headed in the right direction to get at least to that sixth spot,” freshman infielder James Moreno said.

Head coach Ted Mahan said it would make the team’s season if it can make a late-season push and get into the conference tournament.

“We have to play good to get there, and so that being said, if we get there, I think we’ve got a chance to maybe win some games there,” he said. “You just never know.

“That’s our goal right now, to win 30 games and get to the conference tournament, and I think we can do that.”

Mahan said it’s important for the Spartans to improve on their dismal 1-6 home record in conference play against the Wildcats.

“We haven’t played well in the conference at home, so it’s now or never,” Mahan said. “No doubt about it.”

Junior infielder and pitcher Kyle Geswein said preventing runs will be a big key this weekend if the Spartans want to be successful.

“It’s going to be up to our pitching, I think, really,” he said. “Our bats have been swinging really well.”

The Spartans came into the season with the goal of contending for the regular-season conference title - something that hasn’t come close to panning out.

Given the team’s struggles so far this year, Geswein said making the conference tournament would be a huge accomplishment.

“For us it’s real important because right now we’ve missed a lot of our goals, and that seems like the only way we can salvage our season here,” he said.

Moreno said the team hasn’t begun giving up on this year despite its hardships.

“Right now the team chemistry is starting to flow, and hopefully we can get in the groove of things,” he said.

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