Big Ten action is back after a one game stint vs. the Toledo Rockets. Michigan State handled them with ease on their way to a 11-1 rout. It put the Spartans at 21-16 for the year but unfortunately doesn’t help their case as far as the B1G is concerned.
Next up on the Spartans schedule is Northwestern. The Wildcats will host Michigan State for a three game series starting later on today.
Before first pitch takes place let’s get to know those pesky Northwestern Wildcats.
- Record: 16-23 (5-7 conference, 8-10 Home)
- Best Win: vs Iowa (RPI: 102), W 6-5
- Worst Loss: vs Portland (RPI: 280), L 2-5
Last Five Games
- 4/23 — Penn State, L 1-2
- 4/22 — Penn State, W 7-4
- 4/21 — Penn State, W 12-5
- 4/18 — Milwaukee, W 6-4
- 4/16 — Illinois, L 8-10
Like the Spartans, Northwestern is also in the bottom half of the conference. The Wildcats have an overall record that unlike Michigan State slips way beneath the .500 mark. That being said both teams are tied for 9th in the B1G with a 5-7 record. Making the Spartans Big Ten campaign all that more depressing.
Michigan State should be able to handle this Wildcats team without much trouble, the question is will they carry their newfound momentum into this weekend.
Wildcats To Know
The one bright spot for Northwestern has been their very reliable senior, Joe Hoscheit. He hit .400 with six hits, seven RBI, and a home run in four games. Which is exactly why he was awarded with back to back Big Ten player of the Week trophies.
Throughout this week Hoscheit was able to go 6-for-15 with a .666 slugging pct, and a .444 on-base pct. He accounted for ten runs all by himself while leading his team to three out of four victories.
He leads the team in some offensive categories including batting average, slugging pct, and home runs.
The Senior is the first Wildcat to win back to back awards since Jake Goebbert in 2007.
The next best hitters for Northwestern include:
- Matt Hopfner: .305 (47-154), 13 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, 20 RBI
- Alex Erro: .283 (43-152), 8 2B, 2 HR, 12 RBI
Their pitchers line up like this:
- Josh Levy: ERA- 3.10, 3-1, 29.0 IP, 25 Hits, 25 SO
- Josh Davis: ERA- 3.24, 3-1, 33.1 IP, 31 Hits, 22 SO
- Cooper Wetherbee: ERA- 3.34, 1-1, 35.0 IP, 39 Hits, 25 SO
- Sam Lawrence: ERA- 3.82, 2-2, 30.2 IP, 32 Hits, 16 SO
How The Spartans Match Up
Michigan State holds a very nice 91-48-1 all-time record against Northwestern. They last met during the 2015 season. The Spartans have won the two previous match ups with the Wildcats.
This will be Michigan State’s first visit to Evanston since 2010, which coincidentally was also the last time MSU lost a series to the Wildcats. But the Spartans have a 38-22-1 record when playing in Northwestern’s backyard.
Michigan State matches up just fine in this series. They are playing a much lesser opponent, something the Spartans seem to thrive on this year. Not winning this series would be a disappointment.
The Spartans offense looks to be back in full swing after their performance on Wednesday — hopefully they can bring that fire power with them to Evanston.
Michigan State’s pitching staff is third in the B1G and ranks 32nd in the NCAA when it comes to strikeout to walk ratio (2.71). This should help them win the defensive battle.
I won’t say the Spartans are back in full swing just because they exploded for a 11-1 victory earlier in the week. Everyone knows Toledo is weak competition and Michigan State won the way fans expect against a team like that.
Northwestern is no better — the Spartans are in a position to build some confidence and momentum with an easier part of the schedule coming up. Including the Wildcats.
I’m picking Michigan State to win this series with a convincing sweep.