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Spartan Baseball Series Preview: Ohio State

B1G play is back and the Buckeyes are headed to East Lansing for a weekend showdown

After a hard fought 2-1 loss to the Fighting Irish earlier in the week, Michigan State (18-11, 3-3 B1G) is locked and loaded for this weekend’s three game series vs the Ohio State Buckeyes.

The Spartans had to relocate for their last full fledged series against Fresno State due to inclement weather but this weekend’s games are scheduled to be played at McLane Stadium. Let’s all cross our fingers and hope the Michigan weather allows this to happen.

So barring any issues with mother nature the Spartans should be ready to play later on today at 3:05 p.m. before finishing the series up Sunday.

The Basics

The Numbers

  • Record: 14-19 (3-6 conference, 5-6 Away)
  • Best Win: vs Oregon State (RPI: 1), W 6-1
  • Worst Loss: vs Campbell (RPI: 225), L 2-7

Last Five Games

  • 4/12 - Eastern Michigan, L 1-3
  • 4/11 - Cincinnati, L 1-7
  • 4/9 - Penn State, W 11-2
  • 4/9 - Penn State, W 5-2
  • 4/8 - Penn State, L 2-6

The Ohio State Buckeyes are currently on a two-game losing streak and are 14-19 overall. Their 3-6 conference record puts them one spot below the Spartans at number 9. It’s also worth mentioning both teams were swept by the red-hot Minnesota Gophers (so at least they seem like the real deal for the moment).

The previous wins for Ohio State came last weekend where they took two out of three games against Penn State.

History Lesson

Not to take a left turn, so to speak, but this is the 231st meeting in school history for these two universities. Ohio State leads the series 138-91-1 all-time. The Buckeyes have won a lot in recent years, especially in East Lansing. Their record against Michigan State holds at 63-47 when playing away from Columbus.

These two teams met last season twice during the Big Ten Tournament. It didn’t go well for the Spartans as they were swept by the Buckeyes who then went on to celebrate a B1G Tournament title.

Michigan State most definitely remembers the bad taste Ohio State left in their mouths and they’ll show up later on today with redemption in mind.

Buckeyes To Know

This team is all about senior leadership, they have a ton of it. The Buckeyes have five guys who steer this team’s ship and all are seniors - four of them are in their fifth year with the team. They include Jake Post, Zach Ratcliff, Joe Stoll, and Shea Murray.

Another senior infielder, Jalen Washington, was named to the B1G players to watch list along with his buddies Seth Kinker and Yianni Pavlopoulos.

There have been times this group has shown they can hang with the big boys. Earlier in the year OSU managed to beat No. 5 Oregon State and No. 24 Florida Gulf Coast. If that doesn’t put the Spartans on their toes then I’m not sure what will.

When ranking the overall offense’s in the Big Ten the Buckeyes come in second to last, only averaging .233 as a group. The only team worse than them would be Penn State who holds a .227 BA. Ohio State’s offense also includes 49 doubles, 11 triples, and 26 home runs through 33 games.

Their pitching doesn’t round out much better. This team has seen their fair share of arms take the hill, 16 of them to be exact, but have only been good enough for eighth in the conference with a 4.82 team ERA.

Here’s how their pitching and hitting are stacking up this year:

  • Pitching -
  • Hitting -

How The Spartans Match Up

It’s very hard to distinguish what this teams identity is. Most of the time Michigan State is a squad in the hunt for redemption after coming up short of their goals during the 2016 campaign. Other times the offense looks lost and dumbfounded. Whether it be struggling to get hits, drive runs home, or even keep a rally from fizzling out.

Whenever it looks like the Spartans are finally gaining momentum and pouring fuel on top of the fire, the flames just die out. It seems difficult for them to remain somewhat consistent which is why it’s also hard to predict how Michigan State will turn out from one series to the next.

All that being said I must fall back on what I usually do in times like these. Good ole fashion intuition with cold hard facts/stats to back it up.

Michigan State is first in the conference for overall offensive production and third in the B1G for their pitching. Their list of accomplishments thus far has been next to none and would be far to long to spell out. So here’s a nice concise list for Spartans fans. *These stats rank the entire conference and are all weighed based on team achievements throughout the year.

  • Batting Average: 1st
  • Slugging Pct: 1st
  • On-Base Pct: 2nd
  • Runs scored: 2nd
  • Hits: 2nd
  • RBI: 2nd
  • Doubles: 1st
  • Home Runs: T-2nd

Seriously people, shall I go on? This team is unmatched in more areas than one. That’s only the offensive side of things, we haven’t even touched anything that pertains to pitching yet.

  • ERA: 3rd
  • Opposing Team BA: 4th
  • Wins: 6th

The inconsistencies is what kills fans about this team. Majority of their losses have came from teams with winning records. In a way that should worry people, struggling against top competition isn’t a good sign for the future at all.

Three of the Spartans eleven losses have came from teams with below .500 records. All single game series that just so happened to be featured on a Tuesday.

Michigan State is a better team than the Buckeyes this year - Ohio State may have more senior leadership but the Spartans look to edge them out in the talent department. This series won’t be played on a Tuesday and the Buckeyes are below .500 - both points should lead to good things for Michigan State. Let’s hope it works out that way.


Michigan State was much more consistent at the beginning of the year than they have been in the last few months. In their first 20 games the Spartans finished 15-5. Since then they have a record of 3-6 - spanning from the Western Michigan game.

On that point alone I don’t have the utmost confidence that the Spartans will end up sweeping an inferior B1G opponent. They go from beating up on a good ball club in Fresno State to losing to a Notre Dame team that was four games below .500. I understand the game was away from East Lansing, and it’s always going to be difficult to win on the road anywhere. But for Michigan State that excuse is simply not a good one.

This year the Spartans are 10-5 away and 4-4 at home. If anything playing at home should worry fans because MSU hasn’t shown they can use them to their advantage. I’m still taking Michigan State to win this series but fail to see how they will finish strong with a sweep they could easily reach out and grab.

MSU wins series 2-1