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Spartan Baseball Preview: Dairy Queen Baseball Classic

Hold on to your seat folks, the Big Ten / Pac 12 Challenge is headed your way!

After taking two out of the three games against Pepperdine Michigan State is traveling to Minneapolis, Minnesota where they will compete in the Dairy Queen Baseball Classic.

The Spartans will play three different teams in just three days during the B1G / Pac 12 Challenge. Starting with Washington Friday, UCLA on Saturday, and Arizona during Sunday’s finale.

Michigan State is currently 2-5 to start the season, an unfortunate start, but they have won two in a row and will look to carry their momentum into this tournament.


The Basics

The Records

  • Washington: 4-3 (0-0 Conference, 2-1 Home)
  • UCLA: 7-1 (0-0 Conference, 6-1 Home)
  • Arizona: 5-3 (0-0 Conference, 5-0 Home)

Pitchers on Pitchers

Attention baseball fans: this weekend is loaded with pitchers, that includes the Spartans. It should be fun to watch.

Most recently, Joe DeMers (a junior for Washington) made history last Saturday.

He threw the first perfect game Washington had ever seen. DeMer’s is just the fifth guy to ever accomplish something like this within the Pac-12 conference. Joe struck out nine hitters (a career high), while walking no one to also record the ninth no-hitter in school history.

Due to his amazing game Joe was named Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week. Through 15 innings pitched this season DeMer’s still has yet to allow a single earned run. Oh and before I forget it only took him 84 pitches to retire all 27 outs in that ball game.

Next up is a guy from UCLA who the Spartans will face Saturday at noon. Jon Olsen, a right handed junior for the Bruins is 1-0 on the year with a 2.48 ERA. He’s pitched 12.2 innings, given up seven hits, four earned runs, and struck out 12 batters.

Here are some other notable pitchers UCLA has that others within the B1G may see this weekend.

  • Jake Bird: ERA — 0.00, 1-0, 11.2 IP, 9 H, 0 ER, 11 SO
  • Zach Pettway: ERA — 0.69, 2-0, 13.0 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 8 SO
  • Ryan Garcia: ERA — 1.42, 1-0, 12.2 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 13 SO

The Spartans and the rest of the Big Ten are going to have their hands full if they come across UCLA during this tournament.

Arizona is undefeated at home going into this baseball classic. They are 5-3 overall and have a number of pitchers that are able to shut down a teams lineup. We are going to talk about three of them.

Avery Weems, Cody Deason, and Randy Labaut are guys Spartans fans should be paying attention to should MSU face any of them. Weems is 1-0, has a 1.26 ERA, and has pitched 14.1 innings. He’s surrendered nine hits, two earned runs, and set down 10 batters.

His counterparts look just as good.

  • Cody Deason: ERA — 1.46, 1-0, 12.1 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 9 SO
  • Randy Labaut: ERA — 2.13, 0-1, 12.2 IP, 13 H, 3 ER, 12 SO

How The Spartans Match Up

If the Spartans want any chance at all during this tournament their pitching staff needs to play at a high level and their offense needs to step it up. This shouldn’t be news to anyone as the guys on the mound have primarily kept them in games this year. Granted we’re only seven games into the season but it remains true.

This time last year MSU was top two in the country for runs scored per game and in the top three for team batting average. I can tell you the Spartan offense is no where close to that this year. They’ve scored 20 runs up to this point compared to their 79 in 2017. With so many returning starters on offense I didn’t see this being an issue but apparently it is.

On top of that Michigan State has yet to prove they can win close games. Last year it was a struggle for MSU to pull through during one run losses. In 2018 they are 0-3 in such contests.

Let me put it this way, if the Spartans continue to play and perform the same way they have been all year it’s gonna be a long weekend.

Prediction

I’m scared for Spartan Nation this weekend. The Michigan State offense hasn’t been that productive and they are about to run into a number of very good pitchers on three different teams.

Unless something has drastically changed in the past four to five days, this isn’t going to be pretty.

Michigan State beats Arizona and loses to UCLA / Washington.