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Indiana Baseball Series Preview: Michigan State

Tanner Gordon delivers a pitch in last weekend’s home series. (Kurt Spitler/HN)

Indiana Baseball will travel to East Lansing, Michigan this weekend to take on Michigan State for another three-game series in Big Ten play.

The Hoosiers are red hot as they have won their last eight games and cruised through last weekend with multiple dominant wins over Evansville and a drubbing of Ball State on Tuesday.

Indiana and Michigan State’s seasons have been total opposites. The Hoosiers come into the series boasting a 25-12 record overall and a 7-2 record in conference, good for second in the Big Ten, only behind Nebraska.

Michigan State on the other hand, has consistently struggled. The Spartans are coming off of a 5-3 win over Eastern Michigan from Wednesday but are 9-25 on the season and are winless and last in the Big Ten with an 0-8 conference mark.

Despite the contrast in record, Indiana will have to adjust to being away from home for the first time since late March as the Hoosiers have played their last nine games at Bart Kaufman Field.

Now let’s dive into the nitty gritty of what Michigan State has to offer this weekend.

Hitting

The Spartans particularly struggle from the plate as a team as Michigan State has the lowest team batting average in all of the Big Ten at a .225 mark.

They also rank second to last in team home runs with 13, only behind Purdue with six.

Of those that do excel are Michigan State’s junior Bryce Kelley, junior Justin Antoncic, and senior Marty Bechina. They make up three of Michigan State’s five hitters hitting a .250 or better batting average.

Kelley is their lead-off guy and the only Spartan hitting above .300 as he owns a .307 batting average. Kelley specializes in being a contact hitter as he only has three extra base hits on the season, all being doubles, and only has two RBIs all year. Kelley has also taken 10 walks from the leadoff spot.

Antoncic hits in the two-slot for Michigan State and is batting for a .264 batting average. Like Kelley, Antonic is mainly a contact hitter and only has one extra base hit all season, which was a triple. The junior has accounted for nine RBIs though. Antoncic does lead the team in strikeouts with 27.

Bechina hits in the three-spot and is tied for the third best batting average on the team with a .259 mark. Bechina brings the power as he has the second most home runs on the team with three and leads the team in RBIs with 19.

Pitching

Similar to the batting problems, Michigan State has tremendous struggles from the mound as well.

Michigan State’s average team ERA is at 5.36. That ranks them second to last in the Big Ten, slightly edging Northwestern.

Additionally, Michigan State only has one pitcher with an ERA lower than four, and only three with a mark better than five for players with more than one inning recorded.

Michigan State’s weekend starters are as follows:

  • Friday: Sophomore, Erla Mason
  • Saturday: Junior, Mitchell Tyranski
  • Sunday: Junior, Caleb Sleeman

Mason’s year has been difficult with a 5.26 ERA and a 1-6 record. He also has pitched the most innings on the team at 53. Mason is second on the team in strikeouts with 41.

Tyranksi has had a rough season as well, not notching a win yet due to an 0-7 record and a 5.53 ERA. Tyranski can fan batters well though, he leads the team in strikeouts with 48.

Sleeman has found the most success of the starting group as he has the second lowest ERA on the team in a 4.30 mark. Sleeman also boasts a 2-2 record to the tune of 26 strikeouts in 29.1 innings pitched.

This is an important series for Indiana because they remain a game and a half behind Nebraska in the Big Ten standings, but they don’t play a series against Nebraska this year. So, these games against teams like Michigan State are important for the Hoosiers to keep pace in the Big Ten.

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