Michigan State is on their way to North Carolina, where they will look to improve upon last weekend’s sweep of the Abilene Christian Wildcats, a series where the Spartans scored 51 runs to their opponents 21.
After the first exciting weekend of baseball, Michigan State sits atop the mountain alone as the only undefeated team left in the Big Ten. An all-too-familiar feeling for the Spartans, just last year Michigan State raced out to a 14-1 record. The record was the best start in school history, the Spartans are setting out to do the same thing in 2017. Only this time cooling off is not an option.
Michigan State now shifts their focus towards UNC-Greensboro, who oddly enough have the same mascot.
- Record: 1-3 (Non conference schedule / 1-3 Road)
- Best Win: @ #4 South Carolina (NC RPI: 134), 1-0
- Worst Loss: @ Wake Forest (NC RPI: 95), 8-15
An Early Campaign
- Three game series vs #4 South Carolina (1-2)
- One game vs Wake Forest (0-1)
Michigan State fans should not be fooled by Greensboro’s slow start. They’re 1-3 but started the year against the #4 team in the country and managed to steal one game, which is definitely something to hang your hat on.
UNC-Greensboro was projected to finish first in their conference this season in the Southern Conference’s Preseason Coaches Poll, after finishing second in the conference with a 38-21 overall record a year ago.
At one point in 2016, UNC-Greensboro went on a stretch where they won 13 out of 15 games, and they were strongest on their home turf, where they finished 25-5, 15-9 in conference play. This Greensboro team can also really swing it, as they finished their 2016 campaign with one of the best batting averages in the nation, hitting .345 at the plate.
They look to be a worthy adversary for a Spartan team who currently leads the nation in team batting average with .401.
(Other) Spartans to Know
After a hard-fought series against South Carolina, all the attention is on Matt Frisbee, a sophomore RHP out of Candler, North Carolina. The 6’5 230 lb Right hander put on a show in the finale versus the Gamecocks.
He pitched a 7.0 inning shutout, striking out 4 batters, allowing 3 hits, and generally making South Carolina hitters look lost at the plate. Michigan State should expect to see Frisbee at some point in this series.
Other notable Greensboro Pitchers include:
- Chad Sykes (Junior, RHP): ERA- 0.00, 3.2 IP, 4 hits, 2 unearned runs, 2 SO
- Easton Welch (Junior, RHP): ERA- 0.00, 2.0 IP, 2 hits, 3 SO
UNC-Greensboro’s first weekend out on the field was slow when it came to their offense. Before putting up 8 runs on Wake Forest, they only tallied three total runs against South Carolina. A slow start against Michigan State will not bode well if the Spartans can keep up their high octane offense from the previous series where they scored in double digits twice.
Currently Greensboro is averaging .197 at the plate as a team. While as a unit UNC has started slow, there are three guys in particular who have done well in the box.
- Austin Embler (Sophomore): .400 (2-5), 1 2B, 2 RBIs, .600 SLG%
- Tripp Shelton (Junior): .333 (5-15), 1 2B, .400 SLG%
- Dillion Stewart (Senior): .250 (4-16), 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 1 RBI, .625 SLG%
Michigan State will need to bring their “A” game on the mound if they plan on slowing these three down.
How Does Michigan State Match Up
Michigan State will do quite well in this series. Even though it’s early and their first series against Abilene Christian isn’t exactly playing the #1 team in the country, this Spartan team has the tools to be a successful squad this year.
They will definitely need to clean up on defense as they committed seven errors in their first outing. While those are easy fixes, there is no doubt Jake Boss made defense a point of emphasis in the days leading up to game time.
It’s the beginning of the season which means players are falling in line and trying to perfect their roles on the team, especially the young guys. Danny Gleaves a freshman, had a phenomenal weekend in his first career series, hitting the ball to every part of the field, resulting in a .524 batting average, 5 RBIs, and a .619 SLG%.
Being a freshman, it was only natural that he be placed at the bottom of the batting order but by weekends end he was leading off and doing it in spectacular fashion. He went 7-13 from the lead-off spot.
Michigan State also received some Senior leadership from their Captain Dan Durkin, who was awarded his first Big Ten Player of the Week award. An award that was well deserved after he batted an even .500 with 11 RBI, accounting for 30% of the teams run total.
The Spartans have the horses and then some to be successful in this series. Michigan State is so stacked with arms they don’t know what to do with themselves. Guys like Alex Troop, Ethan Landon, Mike Mokma, Jake Lowery, and Joe Mockbee will certainly see action again during the Greensboro series and they all have the ability to dominate a game with their arm.
While UNC-Greensboro is predicted to win their conference, had an amazing 2016 campaign, and just took a game away from the #4 team in the nation I do not believe a victory is in sight for them against Michigan State. Greensboro would need nothing short of another great start from Matt Frisbee to keep the potent Spartan offense at bay, the likeliness of him pitching another 7.0 inning shut out is slim.
Michigan State’s determination to remain consistent will be what separates them in this series, flashbacks of last years hot start, which ultimately went cold sooner than the Spartans would have liked, will stick with them throughout the 2017 season. Falling short of their goals and failing to reach their full potential in 2016 is what will keep this team going and push them to win series they are expected too.
Michigan State fans should be prepared as another sweep is in the making.