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Spartan Baseball Series Preview: Rutgers

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The Scarlet Knights are heading to East Lansing

The Spartans have now lost six games in a row, including their most recent home loss, to Western Michigan. Once again, Michigan State struggled to score any runs in this contest, losing 6-1 at Kobs Field.

The loss was just their second in the last 11 match-ups between these two schools. But with the Spartans looking as bad as they have this season it’s no surprise that some of their winning streaks against other universities are coming to an end.

Michigan State is now 6-17 on the season, while Western Michigan improves to 11-11.

The Spartans will start preparing for the Scarlet Knights (their second Big Ten series of the season) and continue their 12 game home-stand.


The Basics

The Numbers

  • Record: 13-9 (5-4 Away, 2-1 Conference)
  • Best Win: vs Wagner (RPI: 53), W 11-4
  • Worst Loss: vs Iona (RPI: 272), L 3-12

Last Five Games

  • 3/28 — Princeton, L 5-6
  • 3/25 — Penn State, L 3-9
  • 3/24 — Penn State, W 1-0
  • 3/23 — Penn State, W 4-1
  • 3/18 — FGCU, L 8-9

Last year the Scarlet Knights finished the season 19-34 with a Big Ten record of 7-16. Yes, they were one of the worst teams in the conference (Michigan State wasn’t far behind that moniker) but Rutgers always remained a confident and competitive team. They were 8-10 at home which was by far their best winning percentage in terms of home, away, and neutral site games.

Rutgers had a very rough finish to their 2017 season. They lost the last five games in a row and didn’t score a single run in three of those contests.

This year the Scarlet Knights have found ways to win some quality ball-games. They are currently 13-9 with a 2-1 conference record. Their best wins have come against #9 Miami, Wagner, and #27 Florida Gulf Coast.

Rutgers looks to have a bright future in the college baseball world.

Scarlet Knights To Know

Rutgers starting pitcher, Harry Rutkowski, was named the Big Ten Freshman of the week for his outstanding close out performance against the Penn State Nittany Lions.

It’s the second time this year a Rutgers player was awarded with Big Ten honors. The previous winner was (also a) freshman starting pitcher, Eric Heatter.

Rutkowski pitched 6.2 innings Saturday with 0 runs allowed. He managed to strike out seven different hitters while giving up just four hits. In addition he also held the Nittany Lions scoreless with runners in scoring position (0-6).

Here are the other notable Rutgers pitchers:

  • Eric Heatter: ERA — 3.46, 1-1, 26.0 IP, 30 H, 10 ER, 23 SO
  • John O’Reilly: ERA — 4.63, 2-1, 35.0 IP, 43 H, 18 ER, 22 SO
  • Collin Kieman: ERA — 2.19, 3-1, 12.1 IP, 10 H, 3 ER, 7 SO

Offensively, the Scarlet Knights are hitting .287 (222-773) as a group, with 31 doubles, five triples, six home runs, 124 RBI, and 30 stolen bases. On top of that they have five guys (who have played or started in at least 12 games) averaging .313 or better from the plate.

Here’s a list of those five:

  • Kyle Walker: .421 (24-57), 1 2B, 1 3B, 6 RBI, 2 SB
  • Carmen Sciafani: .364 (20-55), 5 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 1 SB
  • Luke Bowerbank: .329 (25-76), 2 2B, 15 RBI, 4 SB
  • Kevin Blum: .324 (11-34), 1 2B, 4 RBI, 1 SB
  • Jawuan Harris: .313 (15-48), 3 2B, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 8 SB

How The Spartans Match Up

Well Spartan fans I’m back with another exciting run down of what I think of this MSU team and how they stack up against their next opponent, the Scarlet Knights.

Rutgers is a solid Big Ten team this season and the Spartans will be lucky to win a game this weekend. Yes, all three games will be played in East Lansing but this isn’t basketball or football so I doubt the entire city will be showing up to Kobs Field to show their support. So anything with home field advantage goes out the window.

I’ve said it all year long and I’ll say it again, the Spartans are a horrible offensive team (if you are a reader I imagine you are sick of hearing that). But this time I plan on showing you just how bad they actually are.

Here are seven (of the most important) offensive statistic categories for the Michigan State Spartans and where they rank nationally:

  • On-Base Percentage: #276 — 31.4%
  • Scoring: #287 — 3.5 runs per game
  • Batting Average: #262 — .232
  • Extra Base Hits (doubles / triples): #283 — 20
  • Hits (singles): #239 — 168
  • Runs: #272 — 76
  • Stolen Bases: 7th — 54
  • Stolen Bases Per Game: 7th — 2.45

Michigan State ranks inside of the Top 100 in two out of the seven categories and it’s about the least important category to be good at because the only time stealing bases matters is when you are actually getting on base, and they rank #276 for on-base percentage. Other than that they rank outside of the Top 200 (closing in on 300) for virtually anything to do with their offense.

So what’s my opinion of this team? A month ago I was saying how they weren’t going to win a lot of games but they would keep it close with anyone they played against. I’ve changed my mind since then.

The Spartans will be lucky to beat multiple Big Ten schools this year.

Prediction

My prediction for this series is quite simple.

If the Michigan State Spartans can’t get better in such a short amount of time then it’s going to be a long and rough weekend in front of their home fans (let me be the first to say they aren’t going to get any better).

Michigan State gets swept by the Scarlet Knights.