Spartan baseball heading to Minnesota to play Golden Gophers
With a chance to jump near the top of the Big Ten standings, the MSU baseball team will have to go through the conference’s top team.
There’s a reason this scenario sounds familiar.
It’s the same situation the Spartans (22-11 overall, 5-4 Big Ten) were in exactly a week ago when hosting then-Big Ten leader Indiana for a three-game series — a series the Spartans swept in walk-off fashion to climb back into the Big Ten title race.
As a result, the Spartans inched up to a tie for sixth in the standings with 15 Big Ten games to play.
Despite being in a brutal stretch — which includes 19 games in the month of April and increasingly unpredictable weather of late — MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. said his team is used to the grind, using it to fuel them to the top of the standings.
“The way the schedule is, especially in the north, everything is really compacted,” Boss said. “But that’s what our guys are used to. Certainly, they’d rather play than practice, and there’s no better way for those young guys to get that experience than to go out and play.”
Following a rain-drenched Clash at Comerica: statenews/top (State News Top Stories) on Wednesday at Comerica Park in Detroit, the Spartans hit the road to visit Minnesota (23-13, 7-2) in a series to determine the order of the Big Ten going into the final week of April.
The Golden Gophers currently are riding a five-game winning streak, and have won three Big Ten series’ this season against Michigan, Ohio State and Northwestern, respectively.
Minnesota outfielder Andy Henkemeyer (.338 average/.376 on-base percentage/.485 slugging percentage) paces the offense, which features eight players hitting .250 or better.
But as has been the case with MSU, the Golden Gophers have had weather issues of late — having three games cancelled or postponed since the start of April.
Sophomore outfielder Jimmy Pickens said both teams have been fine-tuned to unsettling weather conditions, and the team will be on watch for it again this weekend.
“It’s good that we didn’t have to keep going on and off like we would have at home or anywhere else,” Pickens said. “We lost a lot (Tuesday) against Toledo and we need everyone fresh, especially over in Minnesota, where the weather might not be good.”
Facing a stretch of eight games in the next 10 days, the Spartans kick it off with senior pitcher Andrew Waszak on the hill for a 4:05 p.m. ET Friday at Siebert Field in Minneapolis.
The series will continue through the weekend with junior David Garner at 3:05 p.m. on Saturday and sophomore Mick VanVossen at 2:05 p.m. on Sunday.