For the MSU baseball team, head coach Jake Boss Jr. often talks about being the best of six Division I baseball teams in the state or “state champs”.
“We talk about being state champs, it’s important to us,” Boss said. “We place an importance on games with in-state teams, because those are important. It’s a rivalry with Michigan, it’s a rivalry with Eastern and Western and Central and Oakland and I think those are important games.
“We want to take care of our home territory first and they’re good rivalries with all of those guys.”
As it stands, Central Michigan has the best record in games against the other five at 5-2 but that is bolstered by a three-game sweep of Eastern Michigan and a dramatic come from behind win against MSU.
MSU is right behind at 4-2, and would be 5-1 if they didn’t fall apart against CMU and give away a 7-0 lead with two innings to play.
Michigan is .500 at 2-2, Eastern Michigan is competing well at 4-5, Oakland stands at 1-2 and Western Michigan rounds out the rest of the group at 1-4.
The Spartans started the season 2-0 against in-state opponents with an 8-3 win over CMU March 24 and a 7-1 win over Oakland the following day.
The first loss in-state came at the hands of EMU by a score of 10-5 on April 1, the team bounced back against its next in-state opponent with a 5-4 win over WMU on April 8.
The next two games in-state for the Spartans were played in Detroit at Comerica Park on April 14 and 15. The team opened with a 4-2 win over Michigan and followed with the above mentioned collapse against CMU.
MSU has three games remaining against in-state opponents— one against Western Michigan on April 22, one against Eastern Michigan on April 29 and an in-state finale against Central Michigan on May 12.
That final game against the Chippewas will likely be a battle between the best two teams in the state this season.
After the win over Michigan, junior outfielder Cam Gibson said the team doesn’t consider itself the best in the state, they would rather take it one game at a time and be the best of the night.
“We don’t consider ourselves the best in the state, but for tonight we consider ourselves the best of Michigan and Michigan State,” Gibson said. “That’s a huge rivalry for us (and) we grew up playing with most of the kids. I played hockey with these guys, I played baseball with these guys, so it’s just good to get a win over them, we’ll probably be texting back and forth, it will be fun to rub it in their faces a little bit.”
If the Spartans can sweep their remaining three in-state games they will certainly have the strongest resume for the best team in the state.
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