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Spartan Baseball Series Preview: Western Michigan

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The Broncos head to East Lansing for a single game home against the Spartans

Michigan State is ready to head back home to East Lansing after a terrific three game series against Illinois. They finished the weekend 3-0 in B10 play, outscoring their opponents 41-11 and driving 8 home runs out of the park in Sunday’s game alone. Their efforts have rewarded them with the number one spot in the conference along with the best winning percentage of any team in the Big Ten.

They now turn their attention to the Broncos of Western Michigan who are rowing the boat to McLane Stadium for a one-game stint (first pitch is slated for 3:05 p.m).

It is only MSU’s second home game of the year, so, if you’re in East Lansing, do our boys a favor and show out both tonight and this weekend for the first home series of the year against Minnesota. Either one is great, but both are ideal.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s dive right into this Western Michigan business.


The Basics

The Numbers

  • Record: 11-9 (2-1 conference, 6-8 Away)
  • Best Win: vs UCONN (RPI: 66), W 4-3
  • Worst Loss: vs Evansville (RPI: 212), L 5-6

Last Five Games

  • 3/25 - Miami (OH), W 4-0
  • 3/25 - Miami (OH), W 8-4
  • 3/24 - Miami (OH), L 3-4
  • 3/22 - Michigan, L 4-6
  • 3/19 - Evansville, W 4-3

Western Michigan baseball has seen its fair share of ups and downs this year. They started off the season a disappointing 1-5 but, like they did last year, have bounced back. In 2016, the Broncos got off to a similar start but managed to get it together to win their first ever MAC tournament championship. In 2017 they have done the same, during their spring break trip they went 5-1, thanks to six players who hit .300 or better in the box.

Clearly, this Broncos team knows how to battle through adversity, which speaks highly of their players character, personalities, and will to win. In 2017, they have a record of 11-9 and have just won their first conference series vs Miami (OH). They took two out of three games, the one loss coming in extra innings.

Western Michigan has a team who can hit the crap out of the ball, they average .313 as a group (better than the high-powered Spartans) and their pitching staff only gives up an average of 5 runs per game.

Broncos To Know

As mentioned, the Broncos can really hit the ball, especially as of late, they are now 24th in the nation for team batting average. Michigan State won’t be facing too many opponents that have the ability to outhit them so this is a real test for both teams.

The Broncos have a plethora of hitters, here’s how their best guys seasons are shaping up:

  • Tanner Allison (LHP): .405 (34-84), 8 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 33 RBI
  • Grant Miller (INF): .347 (26-75), 2 2B, 1 HR, 13 RBI
  • Jesse Forestell (C): .338 (26-77), 5 2B, 7 RBI
  • Connor Smith (INF): .330 (29-88), 5 2B, 5 3B, 2 HR, 22 RBI

Western Michigan has a total of 6 guys hitting .330 or better and four others hitting just below .300. Their offensive production has been off the charts this season, while their record may not show it this team can be dangerous.

How The Spartans Match Up

Western certainly matches up well and may even have some form of an edge on the Spartans in this one but Michigan State doesn’t fall too far behind. Most will tell you the Spartans are still the better team even with a slightly worse batting average (.306). Fans should also remember Sparty is a top ten team for runs scored per game and that should worry the Broncos.

The Spartans have put up football like scores in their last four games and absolutely ran away with each and every one of them. Since 3/21 they have outscored their opponents 52-13, this really does not bode well for Western if Michigan State’s pitching/defense keeps showing up the way it has been.

Here’s a quick look at Michigan State’s pitching in 2017 (this includes their last series vs Illinois):

The stat line says it all, but the one thing fans should notice is the Spartans average ERA is 3.36 (which is pretty low) meaning opponents do not score on this team. To top it off Michigan State opponents average ERA is 7.74. When this team turns it on they can score at will and it has hurt their opponents ability to make these games competitive.

Look for Michigan State to try and shut the door early on a very good Broncos team.

Prediction

I think Michigan State’s defense and pitching will be what pushes them to victory in this one, the Spartans are simply too hot for the Broncos to handle right now. If they hadn’t just outscored their opponents 52-13 in their last four games I might be singing a different tune. The fact is Michigan State is on a mission to avenge the 2016 season where they ultimately came up short. Their drive and motivation has lifted them to new heights this year, heights that fans were not prepared for (but are damn happy about).

The Broncos offense is good but Michigan State’s will simply stay the course and keep blowing it up the way they have all year long.

MSU 8 WMU 4