To steal and paraphrase a line from the late `broadcasting giant’ Pat Summerall, “here come the Spartans”. Michigan State (19-15, 4-5 B1G) defeated rival Michigan (21-15, 6-6 B1G) Tuesday night 4-2, and with that take over the No. 8 spot in the Big Ten rankings.
I know…you’re thinking `eighth?,’ well, in the B1G, that’s right in the mix.
Illinois (29-6-1, 8-1 B1G) is tied with Iowa (23-9, 8-1 B1G) for first place in the conference standings, and with Maryland (24-10, 8-4 B1G) holding the amount of conference wins they have, those three teams will be hard to catch. However, Ohio State (23-9, 7-1 B1G), Nebraska (26-11, 5-4 B1G), Michigan, and Indiana (21-11, 5-6 B1G) are in the Spartans crossfire.
MSU is building momentum, they have won seven of their last nine games, which includes a three-game sweep of then-ranked No. 11 Oregon, a series win against Northwestern, and of course last nights win against the Wolverines.
Then there is the matter of team synergy and moral, which is obviously at DEF-CON 5 spurred on by this weeks announcement of Ryan Krill being named Big Ten Player of the Week, as announced by the conference office on Tuesday, April 14.
Krill led the Spartans in that Northwestern series, going 10-for-14 (.714) with eight RBIs, and two runs scored. The talented first baseman’s 28 RBIs is now among the Big Ten leaders together with teammate Blaise Salter.
The Spartans face a worthy opponent in Central Michigan (24-12) at Comerica Park tonight, then head to Piscataway, N.J. for a three-game set against Rutgers (11-23, 5-7 B1G) for more conference action.
With a victory tonight, and at least a series win this weekend, the Spartans could — in theory — show up Monday with a 22-16 overall record, maybe 23-15 if they sweep Rutgers and beat CMU, and a possible conference record of 7-5, maybe even 8-5.
I know that’s a lot of ifs, ands, and buts…BUT, if this were to be the case MSU might even attract some top 25 consideration, or top 30 anyway. After all it is the Big Ten and in case you hadn’t noticed they have four teams (Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska) in the top 25 with another knocking on the door (Ohio State) and one that has been in and out of the poll all year (Indiana).
Pretty good conference. Go ahead and throw Michigan State in there, they are at least walking up the driveway, they could be knocking on the door momentarily.
MSU’s .281 team batting average is fifth in the B1G.
Their opponents are batting .256.
The Spartans have a team ERA of 3.94 (8th B1G), while their opponents ERA is 4.38.
Michigan State’s .977 fielding percentage is third in the Big Ten.
Junior outfielder Cam Gibson (Grosse Pointe, Mich./Grosse Pointe South) is tied for fourth in the Big Ten with 33 runs, and his 13 stolen bases is third.
Redshirt-sophomore LHP Cam Vieaux (Novi, Mich./Walled Lake Western) is third in the Big Ten with 54.1 innings pitched and 50 strike outs.