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Spartan Baseball Preview: The Richmond Spider Invitational

Michigan State travels to Virginia after a few days rest in East Lansing.

Recently the Spartans went on a little Spring Break trip, they started out strong finishing 3-0 in the First Pitch Invitational. Now Michigan State is on a three game losing skid (putting their Spring Break record at 3-3), they’ve since struggled against top competition, namely No. 10 South Carolina and No. 9 Clemson.

The Spartans plan on putting that all behind them as they now go to Richmond, Virginia where they look to improve upon their already impressive 9-4 record. Stretching from Friday-Sunday they will play Campbell, Richmond, and Cornell in that order. Their first game against Campbell will be held at 10 a.m. ET.

This will be Michigan State’s final road trip before finally heading back to East Lansing for their first home game of the season.


The Basics

The Records

  • Campbell: 7-9 (0-0 conference, 7-7 Home)
  • Richmond: 6-9 (0-0 conference, 6-9 Neutral)
  • Cornell: 4-2 (0-0 conference, 4-2 Away)

The Hitters

During this invitational fans will be introduced to a plethora of guys who can really spray the ball around the field.

First up we have RS-Freshman and lefty pitcher Matthew Barefoot out of Campbell University. Most recently he has been named the Big South Freshman of the Week. Boy did he have a week, Barefoot just keeps exploding out of the gates in 2017 hitting .450 (9-20) over the last seven days with eight RBIs and four extra base hits. On the season Matthew is hitting .433 (26-60) with 17 RBIs, 10 doubles, 3 homers, and four stolen bases. In case your wondering if this kid is the real deal, get this, its the second week in a ROW hes been awarded with honors. March 6th he was given the Big South Player of the Week award.

The bus doesn’t stop there though, here are the other guys backing him up for the Camels.

  • Jeff Hahs (OF/1B): .405 (17-42), 3 2B, 1 HR, 11 RBIs
  • Kyle Mehl (INF): .400 (8-20), 2 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBIs
  • Drew Butler (UTIL): .351 (20-57), 3 2B, 8 RBIs

Next up are two guys from The University of Richmond, SS Vinny Capra and OF/P Daniel Brumbaugh, both have been hot from the start. Junior Daniel Brumbaugh is coming off of his best week yet, he led Richmond with six hits, six RBIs, and a 2-0 record from the mound last week where he was named the Wells Fargo Student-Athlete of the Week. During Richmond’s Spring Break trip they traveled to Texas where Brumbaugh hit the game winning RBI home. He then pitched the ninth inning where he put the opposing team down in order to seal the victory. In 2017 Daniel is hitting .344 (21-61) with 7 doubles, three triples, and 11 RBIs.

The rest of their hitters are shaping up like this:

  • Vinny Capra (SS): .396 (21-53), 6 2B, 1 HR, 8 RBIs
  • Jonathan De Marte (RHP): .333 (19-57), 2 2B, 8 RBIs
  • Kyle Schmidt (C): .333 (7-21), 2 2B, 4 RBIs

Dale Wickham, a junior from Cornell University just put forth some of the most explosive baseball that Cornell fans may have ever seen. It didn’t take long for him to be named the Ivy League Player of the Week. For the most part Dale has picked up where he left off in 2016, averaging .600 (9-15) for the weekend of March 6th with three doubles, four RBIs, and a stolen base. Surprisingly enough this is actually Wickham’s first weekly award.

The numbers speak for themselves and a little help from his teammates never hurt either.

  • Dale Wickham (OF): .519 (14-27), 6 2B, 5 RBIs
  • Trey Baur (IF): .462 (6-13), 1 2B, 5 RBIs
  • Ryan Krainz (IF): .400 (8-20), 2 2B, 3 RBIs

Each and every one of these teams is loaded with guys who can explode offensively, it is an absolute must that Michigan State’s pitching staff be ready this weekend.

How The Spartans Match Up

Michigan State is still a top ranked team offensively, right now they are 29th in the country for team batting average (.312) and 23rd in the nation for runs per game (8.0).

They will once again lean on offensive to point them in the right direction, but with this tournament being so stacked with hitters the Spartans will need to rely on their pitching to ultimately win these games. With the likes of Alex Troop, Jake Lowery, Walter Borkovich, and Andrew Gonzalez Michigan State should be fine.

Here’s a snapshot of those guys seasons:

  • Alex Troop: ERA- 1.96, 2-1, 23.0 IP, 19 H, 17 SO
  • Jake Lowery: ERA- 2.38, 1-0, 11.1 IP, 7 H, 13 SO
  • Walter Borkovich: ERA- 3.31, 2-0, 16.1 IP, 13 H, 15 SO
  • Andrew Gonzalez: ERA- 5.00, 1-0, 9.0 IP, 11 H, 4 SO

The Spartans are a well rounded team but as a group they need to start in the box and finish on the mound, it will be interesting to see if they can get back on track and capitalize this weekend. In the last two series Michigan State has left double digits on the base paths, their inability to score with runners on has hurt them against top competition but it is my belief that all changes starting Friday.

Prediction

Michigan State is by far the best team in this invitational, losing one of these games would be the ultimate let down of the season. Even with the stout hitters teams like Campbell, Richmond, and Cornell are bringing to the table the Spartans should by far dominate this weekend.

After losing three in a row to possible title contenders it’s time Michigan State gets going again and the Richmond Spider Invitational is the perfect opportunity for it.

Michigan State will sweep their way through the Richmond Spider Invitational.