Three Spartan baseball players earn preseason honors
Three players from Michigan State's baseball team earned a place on the Big Ten Conference Preseason Honors list.
Senior infielder Marty Bechina, junior pitcher Indigo Diaz, and redshirt sophomore pitcher Mason Erla were among the honorees.
Chicago native Bechina played in 49 games last season, starting in 47 for the Spartans. The senior is coming off a recovery from a broken leg in the fall during his third season. He led the team with nine doubles and tied the team with six home runs on the way to hitting .247 with 25 hits, adding one triple for a total of 16 extra-base hits, which also led the team.
Bechina was also third on the team with a .340 on-base percentage. He achieved a season-long five game hitting streak and nine multi-hit outings including three games with career-best tying three hits, two coming in Big Ten action. Bechina also posted six multi-RBI games, boosted by career-high tying four RBI, vs. Nebraska on April 7.
Diaz, starting his first season as a Spartan, came to MSU from Iowa Western Community College. He earned honorable mention NJCAA All-American honors as a sophomore after logging an 11-1 record in 12 starts as part of 16 appearances as a sophomore, with a paltry 1.52 ERA and firing 101 strikeouts in 65.0 IP while yielding just 20 walks.
The Vancouver native helped the Reivers to a 54-7 record, winning 36 consecutive games and the fourth-highest victory total in program history, advancing to the JUCO World Series as the Northern District D1 Region XI champions. He was also selected to play on the United States NJCAA National team in the National Baseball Congress (NBC) World Series.
Erla was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team last season and ranked second in the Big Ten in opposing battling average at .216. He led MSU and tied for 10th ranking in the Big Ten with six wins. Erla ranked 16th in the Big Ten strikeouts with 63 punch outs and was also just outside the top 15 in the conference with 3.73 ERA.
The Spartans are returning eight position players and three pitchers from last season. MSU finished 20-32 overall and 11-12 in Big Ten play, placing eighth in the league. MSU made its fourth appearance in the last five seasons in the Big Ten Tournament and its seventh in the 10 years under head coach Jake Boss Jr.
This season's Spartans will open on Friday, Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m. in New Orleans for a three game series against the New Orleans Privateers in the first of a 56 game regular season. MSU and UNO play at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16 before the series finale of the opening weekend at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 17.