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Baseball cruises through difficult part of schedule

April 28, 2015
<p>Men's baseball coach Jake Boss Jr. encourages players from third base in the third game of the series against the University of Illinois on May 5, 2013, at McLane Baseball Stadium at Old College Field. The Spartans won 4-3 after trailing 3-1 for a majority of the game. Danyelle Morrow/The State News</p>

Men's baseball coach Jake Boss Jr. encourages players from third base in the third game of the series against the University of Illinois on May 5, 2013, at McLane Baseball Stadium at Old College Field. The Spartans won 4-3 after trailing 3-1 for a majority of the game. Danyelle Morrow/The State News

Photo by Danyelle Morrow | The State News

The team opened the series with a poor performance in a 6-1 loss to the Hoosiers. Saturday’s game was postponed, which set up a doubleheader on Sunday. The Spartans were able to take both of Sunday’s games with a 7-0 win in the first and a 3-2 win in the second game.

Senior pitcher Mick VanVossen was dominant in the 7-0 win on Sunday. The senior threw a complete game shutout, totaling eight strikeouts and giving up just one hit and three walks. VanVossen retired the last 13 Hoosier batters in the game without allowing a man on base.

Senior closer Jeff Kinley was also impressive on the mound in the second game of the day. In the first start of his career, Kinley was able to deliver a quality performance. The senior had 6.1 innings pitched giving up just three hits and one run all while throwing seven strikeouts.

As it has been the whole season, the seniors make this team go, and head coach Jake Boss Jr. knows that.

“This is a resilient group. We’ve got a good group of seniors, and, if you look at the box scores, our seniors are the guys that led us,” Boss said. “Mick’s one-hit shutout, that’s senior leadership. Jeff Kinley making his first start and goes for 6.1 very strong solid innings for us, that’s senior leadership.”

The Spartans have now won 13 of their last 16 games and this is a team that was 12-14 at the beginning of April.

Taking two of three from Northwestern, a three-game sweep of Rutgers and another two of three from Indiana has given the Spartans wins in the last three Big Ten series with a 7-2 record in those games.

MSU has nine conference games remaining, all three-game sets. The first comes against Purdue (13-31 overall, 1-14 Big Ten), followed by Penn State (13-26 overall, 2-12 Big Ten) and the team closes out the regular season against Minnesota(18-21 overall, 7-11 Big Ten).

“We’re trying to win as many games as we can and see what happens. We’ve got three weekends to go, nine Big Ten games, certainly a lot could happen,” Boss said.

These three teams are a combined 10-37 in Big Ten play this season so this will be an opportunity for MSU to improve its Big Ten record and make a case for an NCAA Tournament berth. The Spartans dominated their most important stretch of the season and now sit in a perfect position with the easiest part of their schedule remaining before postseason play begins.

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