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Spartan Baseball Series Preview: #10 South Carolina

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Michigan State prepares to face another top ten team

Michigan State suffered their second loss of the season Wednesday night against #9 Clemson after uncharacteristically leaving nine guys on base through the night.

The Spartans won’t have time to dwell on the loss, as they immediately turn around and face #10 South Carolina in a three game series starting tonight at 7pm EST.

The Gamecocks are 9-5 on the year and have continuously been ranked in all six major polls in college baseball.


The Basics

The Numbers

  • Record: 9-5 (0-0 conference, 7-4 Home)
  • Best Win: vs Wright State (RPI: 19), 4-3
  • Worst Loss: vs UNC-Greensboro (RPI: 111), 0-1

Last Five Games

  • 3/8 - vs Winthrop, W 8-6
  • 3/7 - vs The Citadel, W 12-5
  • 3/5 - vs Clemson, L 3-5
  • 3/4 - vs Clemson, L 7-8
  • 3/3 - @ Clemson, W 2-0

After losing the series to in-state rival Clemson last week, South Carolina bounced back vs Winthrop and The Citadel outscoring the two 20-11.

The Gamecocks are a mechanically sound baseball team and it all starts with their pitching. Even though they lost the series against Clemson the Tigers hit only .221 and amassed just 23 hits, 13 runs in 29.0 innings.

They are ranked 46th in the nation for ERA, (3.23), 10th in K/9 (10.6) and have 151 total strikeouts on the year, second only to Oklahoma (160).

Once again, the Spartans will have the batting average advantage, but the Gamecocks have improved their batting average to .284 recently and have outhit their opponents in every single game except for one.

Gamecocks To Know

South Carolina has a team loaded with talent (hence why they are a top ten team) but a few in particular are having break out seasons.

Right hander Clarke Schmidt will take the mound Friday against the Spartans is one of the best in the nation. The Junior is 2-0 on the year with a 0.48 ERA — somehow good for only 39th in the nation — and is holding opponents to a .164 AVG when he steps on the rubber. For reference, the Spartans have a .329 team batting average. Yes, he’s that good.

On the offensive side of things 1B Matt Williams comes in with a 12 game hitting streak. In 2017, he is averaging .410 with 7 RBIs, and two doubles. Williams was their most consistent guy vs Clemson as he finished that series out averaging .417 and his .500 on base percentage isn’t to shabby either.

How The Spartans Match Up

Michigan State has a lot to learn from very recent mistakes if they want to have a chance in this series. Their offensive efficiency was the worst it’s been all year in the loss vs Clemson. If they come out and lay another egg on the base paths it will be a long weekend for the Spartans.

Overall, Michigan State matches up well with the Gamecocks, just as they did with the Tigers, but it all comes down to execution. The Spartans will lean on offensive firepower again to try and win this series.

Their pitching, while good, may struggle against a very good South Carolina team. Prior to facing Michigan State, Clemson was only averaging .280 as a team and then proceeded to hang nine runs on the Spartans.

A quick takeaway from that game is the pitching can only hang in there for so long, meaning when Michigan State has opportunities to put runs on the board they absolutely need to take advantage or they could be in for a long weekend.

Prediction

Michigan State will bounce back from a tough loss to Clemson but won’t end up winning this series against the Gamecocks.

South Carolina is just too deep of a team. They lost one series to Clemson but even then made the Tigers average way below what they normally do from the plate and only allowed 13 runs in three games.

They simply don’t allow their opponents to be efficient on offense, which spells trouble for Michigan State. Plus, they have only been outhit once all season.

The Spartans will lose the series but take one game from South Carolina.