Starting off fresh after last season’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1979, Michigan State baseball returns 20 letter winners from last year, who won a total of 37 games. These 37 wins mark the third most in the school’s history. In regards to the beginning of the baseball season, head coach Jake Boss says, “I know guys have been working hard on their own before today and we’re excited to get things kicked off and get it rolling.”
Last season, Michigan State had five players named to the All-Big Ten Team in 2012 and Jordan Keur will be the only of the five to return this year. The Spartans also had two named to the All-Freshman team, Blaise Salter and Jimmy Pickens, who are both back for their sophomore seasons. Keur, along with seniors Andrew Waszak and John Martinez will serve as team captains for the 2013 season, giving MSU three reliable starters that understand what it takes to reach the team’s potential.
The Spartans also must deal with replacing their winniest senior class that left last year. The 2012 senior class helped Michigan State to a 130-94 record, including three straight 30-win seasons and the 2011 Big Ten regular-season title. The 130 wins are the most by any senior class in the history of Michigan State baseball. However, MSU will welcome to the roster one of the most talented freshmen classes in recent history. Justin Alleman, 2012 Mr. Baseball in Michigan, and Cam Gibson, were both drafted out of high school, but chose to enroll at MSU and continue their baseball careers with the Spartans.
This year, the Spartans will attempt to return to the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1978-79. In February, Michigan State traveled to Greenville, S.C., for their sixth straight year to play in one of the finest baseball parks in all of Minor League Baseball, Fluor Field, to compete in the First Pitch Invitational.
Feb. 15, 2013 – Furman – L 4-3
The Spartans fell behind early, as two errors led to a pair of Furman runs in the bottom of the second. The Spartans took a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the ninth thanks to a three-run homer in the top of the fifth. With two outs and the bases empty in the bottom of the ninth, Furman was able to score two runs to rally past Michigan State on Opening Day Friday at Fluor Field in the First Pitch Invitational.
Feb. 16, 2013 – Miami-Ohio – Postponed
The Michigan State vs. Miami-Ohio was postponed to Feb. 24th due to snow in Greenville, South Carolina.
Feb. 17, 2013 – Northwestern – W 7-4
Michigan State scored three runs in the seventh inning and added one more in the ninth to seal its first win of the season over Northwestern at Fluor Field. “It was a good win,” head coach Jake Boss said. “It wasn’t particularly well played on either end. We realize that there is still a lot of work to be done. Any win is a good win and I thought we pitched really well.”
Feb. 22, 2013 – Western Carolina – W 4-1
– Cincinnati – W 14-6
The Michigan State baseball team won back-to-back games in the First Pitch Invitational at Fluor Field, improving to 3-1 this season. Strong pitching pushed the Spartans to the win over the Catamounts in the first game of the day. MSU took advantage of seven Catamount errors with two runs in the third, one in the fifth and another in the seventh. In the second game of the day, the Spartans stepped it up as they tallied a season-high 16 hits in the 14-6 win over the Bearcats.
Feb. 23, 2013 – Furman – L 8-5
For the second time this season, the Spartans recorded a loss to the Paladins after scoring all of their runs in the top of the fourth inning to propel out to a 5-0 lead. The Paladins, however, bounced back with runs in the bottom of the fourth and fifth before taking the lead with five runs in the sixth.
Feb. 24, 2013 – Miami-Ohio – L 8-6
Michigan State wrapped up the action of the First Pitch Invitational with a tough loss against Miami-Ohio. The Spartans, then 3-3, jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first. However, it was the only time the Spartans would hold a lead, as the RedHawks scored seven runs in the first two innings to take a large 7-1 advantage. The Spartans got one run back in the third due to a homer to left field, and cut the Miami-Ohio lead to 7-3 after another run on in the sixth. Michigan State made things interesting in the ninth after scoring three runs, but the RedHawks ended MSU’s rally before they could catchup.
Mar. 3, 2013 – Austin Peay – L 7-2
– W 4-3
Mar. 4, 2013 – Austin Peay – L 10-7
The three-game series vs. Austin Peay was originally scheduled to start on Friday, Mar. 1, but winter weather in the Clarksville, TN. pushed the series back two days. The Spartans stopped the Austin Peay’s seven-game winning streak by taking an early 1-0 lead in the second inning after a home run to right-center field. In the second game of the day, Michigan State took advantage of walks in the fifth and brought two Spartans home on a two-run double to left-center field, giving MSU the lead. The Governors, however, threatened in the bottom of the ninth by placing runners on first and third with one out, but was unable to surpass MSU. In the final game of the series, the Spartans trailed 4-1 after four innings, but stormed back with six runs in the top of the fifth to take a 7-4 lead. However, the Spartans were unable to hold off APSU due to a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth, while having left 13 men on base in the game.
Mar. 6, 2013 – Tennessee Tech – W 5-3
After cancelling the first game, Michigan State baseball defeated Tennessee Tech for their final game in Clarksville, TN. The Spartans sprung out to an early lead over the Golden Eagles, scoring two runs in the top of the first inning. MSU picked up another run in the top of the fifth with a double down the left field line and followed that up with an RBI double to right center. Threatened in the ninth inning, the Spartans were able to strike out the final batter after a Tennessee Tech home run with two outs.
Mar. 8, 2013 – Kentucky – L 2-1
Mar. 9, 2013 – Kentucky – W 6-1
Mar. 10, 2013 – Kentucky – L 3-1
In their first matchup, Michigan State lost a close battle to No. 7 Kentucky at Cliff Hagan Stadium in Lexington, KY. After the Spartans tied the game in the top of the eighth inning, the Wildcats responded with homer, making the difference for Kentucky to take home the first win. However in the second game, Michigan State was holding a shutout into the eighth inning, but the Wildcats only point came off a home run later that inning. After taking down No. 7 Kentucky on Mar. 9, Michigan State defeated its seventh ranked team since 2000. “It’s a good win, there is no doubt,” Boss said. “Kentucky is a very good ball club but we understood that we needed to play well. It’s a good win but it’s just one win. We play 56 games. It’s one win in a long season and hopefully we can build on the momentum.” Yet, that momentum was put on hold in the final game of the series. The game went scoreless until a run for the Wildcats took place in the fifth inning, and another two runs off of a two-RBI double in the sixth. The Spartans, currently 6-7, threatened the Wildcats, now 14-2, in the ninth after a single on a Wildcat error, but a double play and another groundout sealed the series for Kentucky.
Next, Michigan State will travel to Santa Clara, California for a three-game series against Santa Clara beginning Friday, March 15. Then, the Spartans will return to East Lansing for their home opener against Oakland beginning Friday, March 22.
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