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Sluggers ready for home-opener

March 27, 2002

The MSU baseball team will attempt to bring its winning ways to Kobs Field.

After opening the season with 17 straight road games, the Spartans will host Siena Heights 3 p.m. today in the home-opener.

The Spartans (14-3) are off to the best start since 1992 - when they also were 14-3.

The Saints’ (4-18) last visit to Kobs Field on April 18, 2000 was not enjoyable.

MSU clobbered Siena Heights 16-3. The Spartans had 21 hits and four home runs in the contest.

MSU’s nine-game winning streak came to an end Sunday in Indianapolis with a 4-3 loss to Western Michigan. Despite the setback, manager Ted Mahan said the team’s confidence is high.

“They realize they’re going to lose games over the course of the year,” Mahan said. “We’re ready to get back on the winning track.”

Although Mahan said he expects to use five or six pitchers, senior Kyle Geswein (1-0) will make the start. This is Geswein’s second start of the year, but he has made six relief appearances.

“That’s awesome,” Geswein said. “I’m ready to play at home.”

The designated hitter, Geswein also will perform his normal duties. He has five home runs and 21 RBIs on the season.

The Saints will send Phil Dunn (1-2) to the mound. Dunn has given up 15 earned runs in 14.2 innings for an ERA of 9.20.

Siena Heights is looking to extend a two-game winning streak. It won both games of a doubleheader against Concordia (5-13) on Saturday. The Saints outscored the Cardinals 20-5 in the two games combined.

Siena Heights manager Gordie Theisen said today’s game against the Spartans will be more of a challenge for his team.

“(Concordia) was much, much weaker than Michigan State,” Theisen said. “The only chance we have is if we have great pitching and defense. If we can throw quality strikes and make the routine plays anything can happen.”

The Spartans’ scoring attack has been spearheaded by the bats of junior right fielder Bob Malek and senior center fielder Chris McCuiston.

The two outfielders rank one and two in five different offensive categories.

Together the two have combined for 51 runs, 67 hits, 51 RBIs, 19 doubles and 119 total bases.

Malek, who is batting .467, is well known for his offensive production, while McCuiston is coming on strong in his final year. He is batting .416 with a slugging percentage of .831 and a team-high eight home runs - one shy of his previous three-year total.

McCuiston said he has changed his approach at the plate this season, focusing more on making contact.

“Past years I’ve thought about hitting home runs rather than letting the game unfold,” he said. “This year I’ve went up there and tried to see the ball as good as I can and make plays happen.”

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