The Spartans are taking a small hiatus from conference play this week with four straight out of conference games. First up is Eastern Michigan, Jake Boss Jr’s former team back in 2008. Boss was also an assistant for the Eagles from 1997-2004.
Mark Van Ameyde, the current head coach for Eastern Michigan was a pitching coach under Boss for six seasons at MSU. He was an assistant for the Spartans when they won the Big Ten Championship back in 2011. These two coaching staffs know each other all too well.
Michigan State is coming off of a weekend where they played some less than stellar baseball, losing three straight times to the Minnesota Gophers dropping them to 15-9 on the year. The series loss places them 7th in the conference and they wont have a chance to improve their ranking until April 14th when they face the Ohio State Buckeyes at home.
Before we get way too ahead of ourselves, lets get Michigan State fans ready for today’s game against the Eagles.
- Record: 9-18 (2-1 conference, 2-2 Home)
- Best Win: vs Missouri (RPI: 44), W 6-2
- Worst Loss: vs Oakland (RPI: 272), L 2-3
Last Five Games
- 4/2 - Chicago State, W 5-2
- 4/2 - Butler, W 4-0
- 4/1 - Butler, L 2-6
- 3/31 - Chicago State, W 10-6
- 3/28 - Oakland, L 2-3
Its been a rough start for the Eagles in 2017. Eastern Michigan is 9-18 this season, with a record of 4-3 in their last seven games. Recently EMU had a successful weekend in Chicago where they won three out of four against Butler and Chicago State. Their pitching led the way as their staff threw for a 2.50 ERA with an additional 31 strikeouts.
The Eagles saved its best baseball for the windy city, during their first match up vs Chicago State they trailed 4-3 before really turning on the afterburners as they laid a seven spot on their opponent. It was the most runs scored by Eastern Michigan in a single inning this season and led to a 10-6 win.
Like other teams the Spartans have faced this year, the Eagles are mainly relying on their freshmen contributions. In the 27 games that have been played in 2017, freshmen have combined to make 78 starts in the field.
Eagles To Know
Infielder Devin Hager leads the freshmen with a .266 batting average (17-64) and 7 RBI. The freshman has put up very respectable numbers in his 21 starts. Drake Peggs (Fr) isn’t too far behind his teammate as he leads the Eagles with walks (15), on-base percentage (.379), and is second on the team for RBI with 11.
Here’s how the rest of the hitters are shaping up:
Their pitching staff is led by Senior, Sam Delaplane who is 0-1 on the year with 28.1 IP, 31 SO, and a 2.86 ERA. He is followed up by the right hander Brad Allen, who has started the year with a 1-4 record, 38.2 IP, and 28 SO.
Delaplane’s 31 strikeouts are beginning to put him in an elite category for all-time Eastern Michigan pitchers. His 149 career strikeouts have award him with the 19th spot for strikeouts in Eagles history. He is also top five for all-time saves at the university with 10.
The Eastern Michigan pitching staff has thrown a couple complete games this year as well. Their first came from Junior Brad Allen on March 25th against Bowling Green. Allen went the full 9 innings and only surrendered two hits the entire ball game with 0 earned runs as he propelled the Eagles to a 3-0 shutout. The next one is more recent, Brent Mattson threw one April 2nd against Chicago State. During that time he allowed two hits and struck out six batters which led Eastern Michigan to another 5-2 victory.
How The Spartans Match Up
It's another 4-GAME WEEK!! Spartans play at Eastern Michigan on Tuesday then host Fresno State Friday-Sunday! #SeeYaAtMcLane #673 #GoGreen pic.twitter.com/MSQXfsaF0s— Michigan St Baseball (@statebaseball) April 3, 2017
Michigan State will enter today’s game leading the Big Ten in seven different statistical categories on top of being in the top 25 in college baseball for nine of them. The Spartans are first in the B10 for home runs (28) and are 31st in the country. They are also first in the league for doubles (62) and 22nd in the nation.
To top it off the Spartans have the best marks in the Big Ten for team batting average (.296) and they are outscoring their opponents 184-106. They also outhit opposing teams anytime they step on the diamond (257-216).
Offensively the Spartans are elite, almost every statistical category will tell you its true, unfortunately they don’t always show up and that’s where defense and pitching come in. As a staff they hold a 3.38 ERA which is good for top 50 in college baseball. Opponents average .260 against them but they know how to strike people out (190) and rarely walk anyone (68).
The Spartans have been a brick wall for most teams this year, they just happen to run into their toughest Big Ten test early on last weekend against Minnesota. A series where they couldn’t muster up a single win. That isn’t the Michigan State team fans fell in love with and it certainly won’t be their identity moving forward.
I have to be breaking a world record by saying this, but I think it’s time Michigan State comes out of their slump and gets a win. It’s been four games since their last victory and they will have a perfect opportunity later on today to finally change that against Eastern Michigan - who in case you haven’t noticed aren’t very good.
The Eagles simply do not measure up to the talent level Michigan State has faced in the last four games (Western and Minnesota).
Eastern Michigan has some nice pieces here and there but realistically they shouldn’t even come close to matching up well with the Spartans who are becoming renowned for their offensive abilities around college baseball nation - as well as their defensive prowess over the last couple series (yes even with the losses).