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Spartan Baseball Series Preview: No. 15 Michigan

The Spartans are headed to Ann Arbor for a Tuesday night showdown with the Wolverines

Michigan State is 20-12 on the year with a 5-4 B1G record and somehow they are gearing up for a battle against No. 15 Michigan tomorrow in a non-conference game.

While I’m not sure how that works it is happening people. The Spartans will be on the road for the next four games and it isn’t going to be easy.

Michigan State head coach Jake Boss Jr knows the University of Michigan all too well. Boss was an assistant coach for the Wolverines from 2005-2007, right before he accepted his first head coaching job at Eastern Michigan.

College Baseball tends to be a second tier sport for most universities, especially UM and MSU, with the most prominent programs at each school being basketball and football. But when it comes to these two schools, the rivalry never fades, regardless of the sport.

The Basics

The Numbers

  • Record: 29-7 (6-3 conference, 16-2 Home)
  • Best Win: vs No. 18 Oklahoma (RPI: 21), W 6-2
  • Worst Loss: vs Northern Illinois (RPI: 254), L 5-8

Last Five Games

  • 4/15 - No. 18 Oklahoma, W 6-2
  • 4/14 - No. 18 Oklahoma, W 14-4
  • 4/13 - No. 18 Oklahoma, W 5-2
  • 4/11 - Eastern Michigan, W 2-1 (13 Innings)
  • 4/9 - Illinois, L 5-7

Michigan, the 15th ranked team in the nation, is 29-7 on the year following their sweep of the No. 18 Oklahoma Sooners this past weekend. The series pushed UM to 6-3 in conference play and third in the B1G, right behind Maryland and Minnesota.

The Wolverines are on a four game winning streak and have been red hot for most of the year, with only seven losses to date. That’s pretty impressive.

History Lesson

Later on today the schools will square off for the 308th time but the Wolverines have the all-time series record well in hand. They lead the Spartans 198-107-2 since their first meeting back in 1884.

Michigan State has regained some momentum against the Wolverines winning four out of the last five, including going 3-1 against UM in 2016. Jake Boss Jr. is 11-7 when facing off against Michigan and looks to keep his winning percentage intact.

Band Of Brothers

The Salter brothers have worn uniforms on both sides now and we may see a little sibling rivalry kick in later on today.

Junior Spartan, Will Salter, and freshman Wolvie, Harrison Salter, will face off for the first time in their college baseball careers.

Their older brother, Blaise Salter, who some Spartan fans may remember from the last few seasons at Michigan State, was drafted by the Detroit Tigers and is currently playing for the West Michigan Whitecaps.

Wolverines To Know

Michigan has five players hitting way above .300 and two others right below that same mark. Their offense is at the same level if not a pinch better than Michigan State’s.

Right now, they are good enough for best marks in most areas of the B1G. Starting with batting average (1st), slugging pct (3rd), on-base pct (1st), runs scored (1st), hits (1st), RBI (1st), doubles (5th), triples (3rd), and home runs (7th).

Here’s a quick snapshot of their best guys on offense this season:

The Wolverine defense/pitching isn’t much different. They happen to be just as good. Michigan has the best staff ERA in the B1G (3.02) and are ranked in the top three for a number of other categories

  • Opposing Team BA: 1st
  • Innings Pitched: 1st
  • Strikeouts: 1st
  • Wins: 1st
  • Saves: T-3rd
  • Hits Allowed: 2nd
  • Runs Allowed: 1st
  • Earned Runs Allowed: 1st

UM is a very formidable team, they are good in every facet of the game and Michigan State needs to be ready for an absolute dog fight. Before we move onto the Spartans here are the Wolverines best pitchers in 2017.

How The Spartans Match Up

Michigan State is still finding their way. The Spartans have yet to show that they can remain a consistent ball club.

They played well this past weekend against the Buckeyes but there’s no telling how they will perform later on today. Fans never know which Spartan team will show up and, with a 16-2 record at home like the Wolverines have, they are going to be hard pressed to win this game.

It’s going to take everything the Spartans can give and then some to beat the No. 15 Wolverines at home on a TUESDAY. I’m not usually a believer in sports superstitions or curses but Michigan State has played their worst baseball when hitting the diamond on Tuesday afternoons. Up to this point it hasn’t mattered if they were home or away they have struck out in their mid week games.


Michigan State puts up some of the best numbers the Big Ten has seen all year. They are first in the conference for five different offensive categories and top 25 for eight of those same categories. They lead the Big Ten for runs scored per game and doubles on the year.

The Spartans are sneaky good on the base paths with 56 steals — good for third in the league and 16th in the nation...but Michigan is 1st in the B1G and top three in college baseball for stolen bases.

Putting all that aside, I don’t feel good about this game. I saw it on the schedule at the beginning of the season and didn’t like it then either. To be perfectly honest I wasn’t crazy about these mid week single series match ups at all. It is my belief that this type of scheduling can really throw a team’s rhythm off.

Michigan State is still desperately searching for an identity and some consistency. They began to put it together over the weekend against Ohio State but with virtually no breaks or time to work on things, I smell trouble for the Spartans. Which is why I’m taking the Wolverines in Tuesday’s match up (not to mention they are 15th in the country and really freaking good).

UM 6 MSU 3