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Spartan Baseball Preview: Western Michigan

Michigan State prepares for the Broncos

This past weekend the Michigan State Spartans opened up conference play against their main rival, the Michigan Wolverines.

The Spartans played a three game home-away series against the Wolverines and it wasn’t pretty. As predicted (by yours truly) it was going to be a very long weekend for Spartan baseball fans. I thought Michigan State would take at least one of these games and be happy but they were completely outmatched. The Wolverines played extremely well in every game and managed to dominate the Spartans time and time again.

Michigan State is now 6-16 on the year and 0-3 in Big Ten play while their counterparts continue to improve. That being said, the Spartan focus has shifted to Western Michigan who is on their way to East Lansing for a battle at Kobs Field.

The Spartans are playing their next 12 games at home so if you have the time and enjoy the sport of baseball head on over and give our guys some much needed support! The action starts later today at 3:05 p.m.


The Basics

The Numbers

  • Record: 10-11 (0-2 Away, 1-2 Conference)
  • Best Win: vs Butler (RPI: 115), W 4-1
  • Worst Loss: vs Georgetown (RPI: 279), L 5-9

Last Five Games

  • 3/25 — Toledo, L 4-13
  • 3/24 — Toledo, L 0-3
  • 3/23 — Toledo, W 5-0
  • 3/21 — Michigan, L 6-7
  • 3/18 — Butler, L 3-13

Last year the Western Michigan Broncos finished the season 24-29 overall with a 12-12 conference record. They played their best baseball in front of their home fans as they finished 9-7 when doing so.

In the Mid-American Conference Tournament (which they qualified for) the Broncos beat Eastern Michigan before losing to Central Michigan (5-16) and then Eastern during a Friday rematch (6-12).

Western Michigan played Michigan State twice last year and split the season series at one game a piece. They beat MSU in East Lansing (3-2) and lost at Comerica Park in a tight 6-7 ball game.

During the 2018 season the Broncos have remained pretty consistent. They are 10-11 on the year (not much different than their record last year at this time) and continue to improve with wins against Butler, Toledo, and Saint Bonaventure while having close games with teams like Purdue and Michigan. All in all this Western Michigan team is very competitive and it’ll take a solid all around performance by the Spartans to stop them from winning in East Lansing.

Broncos To Know

Offensively the Broncos have a team batting average of .248 (168-678), with 26 doubles, one triple, five home runs, 75 RBI, and 24 stolen bases.

Western Michigan has shown they have the ability to score runs in bunches (unlike the Spartans) as they have outscored their opponents 28-10 in the first two innings of each of their ball games.

Individually, one of their best players is junior Connor Smith who is one of three guys on the team hitting over .300 this season. He is also on a six game hitting streak.

Here’s a list of some of their best guys on offense:

  • Nate Grys: .373 (19-51), 7 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 13 RBI, 3 SB
  • Jimmy Roche: .313 (25-80), 1 2B, 1 HR, 15 RBI, 3 SB
  • Connor Smith: .306 (26-85), 5 2B, 1 HR, 14 RBI, 3 SB

Defensively the Broncos have one of the best pitching staffs within the Mid-American Conference. According to the MAC, Western Michigan ranks second with a 4.19 ERA and has seven or more games this season with double digit strikeouts.

As I just said they have a 4.19 ERA as a team with a 10-11 record. WMU has pitched 182.2 innings, given up 183 hits, allowed 85 earned runs, and has a total of 174 strikeouts.

Here’s a list of their top pitchers:

  • Andrew Reisinger: ERA — 1.33, 3-0, 27.0 IP, 22 H, 4 ER, 27 SO
  • Jacob Piechota: ERA — 2.78, 1-2, 32.1 IP, 32 H, 10 ER, 38 SO
  • Nic Laio: ERA — 2.86, 2-2, 34.2 IP, 31 H, 11 ER, 30 SO

How The Spartans Match Up

The Michigan State Spartans haven’t matched up well with anyone all year long. At this point I have no real reason to pick them to win any game for the rest of the season.

Time after time I’ve evaluated this team for offense, defense, pitching, catching. I’ve gone through the numbers over and over again and nothing has changed. The Spartans aren’t a very good baseball team right now and after losing the last five games in a row I feel very justified in my opinions.

The fact of the matter is Michigan State is struggling. They lost to Central Michigan (a team they should have beat) early last week before getting swept by Michigan. In the last five games they’ve scored a total of five runs.

You guys watch sports right? Not just baseball but sports in general. What’s the simplest key to winning? Scoring runs, points, and goals more often than your opponents. Well that’s something that MSU is struggling with right now. Per the NCAA, the Spartans are ranked 286th in the nation for runs scored per game with 3.5.

The Spartans just aren’t going to win many games this year and if you are telling yourself otherwise kudos to you because the team is going to need fans to keep the faith. But if we are being realistic the Spartans are going to continue to lose and there’s nothing any of us can do about it.

Prediction

Nothing about this Michigan State team leads me to believe they will beat Western Michigan.

Western Michigan is an average baseball team, they are slightly below .500 and will probably finish the season how they did last year. They aren’t flashy or extremely good but the Spartans stink and that’s all there is too it.

You can’t win games without scoring runs and Michigan State is struggling offensively in a big way. The Broncos should be able to take advantage of that and it is my belief that they will.

MSU 1 WMU 5