MSU baseball struggles in colder weather, Martinez out for the season
With winter conditions lingering into mid-March in East Lansing, the early-season southern tour was supposed to be a reprieve from the cold weather for the MSU baseball team.
Through 13 games, that couldn’t be further from the case.
The Spartans (6-7) had four games cancelled or postponed because of weather, forcing them to reschedule and play seven games in an eight-day stretch.
“It is a little bit warmer here than it was on our trip, believe it or not,” head coach Jake Boss Jr. said Tuesday. “Snowed out to start the trip Thursday, Friday and Saturday, which meant it pushed everything into seven games in an eight-day span, which is not easy for our guys so give them a lot of credit because it was a lot of sitting around, waiting around.”
On top of replacing three of the team’s major offensive threats from a season ago, perhaps the largest casualty of the cold weather has been the team’s offense.
The Spartans rank 10th in the conference in batting, compiling a combined 0.257 average and are eighth in runs scored with 65.
Senior outfielder Jordan Keur (0.319) is the only Spartan averaging more than 0.300 with senior catcher Joel Fisher (0.292)and sophomore designated hitter Blaise Salter (0.291) close behind. Keur also leads the team in stolen bases (five) and has a team-high 0.468 slugging percentage.
With the weather limiting the team’s opportunities to get outdoors, sophomore outfielder Jimmy Pickens said it’s been difficult for the team to find their stride at the plate.
“It’s hard, but we’re out there playing baseball, which is the most important thing,” he said. “But it’s tough waking up and seeing snow on the ground, but we fought through it and did well for the conditions we were in.”
MSU hits the road once more this weekend for a three-game series with Santa Clara in Santa Clara, Calif., which will be the final road series before the team’s home opener against Oakland on March 22.
Senior third baseman John Martinez will miss the remainder of the season after suffering an injury in Saturday’s victory against No. 7 Kentucky.
Head coach Jake Boss Jr. confirmed Martinez tore his left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and his lateral meniscus and suffered a partial tear of his medial collateral ligament (MCL).
Boss said the senior captain is slated to have surgery in late March or early April and will apply for a medical hardship waiver from the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility.
“Johnny got taken out at second base trying to turn a double play,” Boss said Tuesday. “It doesn’t look good. The only silver lining is that it happened earlier enough in the season where we’re more than likely to get a medical redshirt.
“Anytime you lose your captain — kind of the heart and soul of your ballclub — it’s tough and he’s a good kid.”
Before the injury, Martinez was struggled at the plate, compiling a 0.091 average, a 0.211 on-base percentage and only one extra-base hit in 33 at bats.
The previous season was a much different story for Martinez, who hit 0.306 in 52 games with three home runs, 32 RBIs and a 0.375 on-base percentage.