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Spartans Head to Greenville, S.C., for Sixth Straight Season

Senior Andrew Waszak will get the nod on Opening Day as MSU takes on Furman at 5 p.m. on Friday.

Feb. 14, 2013

Michigan State (0-0) at First Pitch Invitational
 Dates Friday, Feb. 15 - Sunday, Feb. 17
 Location Greenville, S.C. | Fluor Field at West End
 Stadium Address 945 S. Main Street | Greenville, SC 29605 | Directions
 Multimedia Weekend Preview
 Ticket Information Click here for ticket pricing.
 Social Media Updates @statebaseball | Facebook

Game 1 vs. Furman (0-0)
 Date | Time Friday, Feb. 15 | 5 p.m.
 Coverage Twitter updates @statebaseball
Live Stats
 Notes Michigan State
 Pitching Matchup MSU: Sr. RHP Andrew Waszak (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs.
FUR: Jr. LHP Nate Smith (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

Game 2 vs. Miami-Ohio (0-0)
 Date | Time Saturday, Feb. 16 | 4 p.m.
 Coverage Twitter updates @statebaseball
 Notes Michigan State
 Pitching Matchup MSU: Jr. RHP David Garner (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs.
MU: Sr. RHP Mac Thoreson (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

Game 3 vs. Northwestern
 Date | Time Sunday, Feb. 27 | 11 a.m.
 Coverage Twitter updates @statebaseball
 Notes Michigan State | Northwestern
 Pitching Matchup MSU: So. RHP Mick VanVossenr (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs.
NU: So. RHP Brandon Magallones (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

Michigan State travels to Greenville, S.C., for the sixth straight year this weekend to play in one of the finest baseball parks in all of Minor League Baseball, Fluor Field at the West End. Home of the Class A Greenville Drive, the facility is modeled after Fenway Park in Boston, featuring its own "Green Monster" in left field with a 30-foot high wall and a manual scoreboard. The outfield dimensions are identical to Fenway Park, including "Pesky's Pole" in right field. Fluor Field at the West End opened in 2006 and was named the "Ballpark of the Year" by in its inaugural season. Drive co-owner and team president Craig Brown is an alumnus of Michigan State University.

"Everybody is sick of being inside and we are ready to get out and start competing," head coach Jake Boss said. "This is a tough week of practice but our guys are ready to get out and start competing. They're used to it - there have been years that we have been out a lot and years that we weren't outside at all."

Spartan right-hander Andrew Waszak , who is slated to start on Friday against Furman, is excited as anyone to get the 2013 campaign underway. Waszak will serve as a captain along with fellow seniors Jordan Keur and John Martinez.

"Having (Kurt) Wunderlich, (A.J.) Achter, and Tony (Bucciferro) all before me in the Friday role is eye-opening," Waszak said. "Those guys were all great pitchers and being able to fill that role is an honor. The first game give momentum for the whole weekend and hopefully puts the opponent on their heels. Winning the season every weekend is the biggest priority. We are anxious to get started."

This marks the sixth consecutive season Michigan State will play at Fluor Field at the West End. The Spartans started their annual trek to Greenville, S.C., in the 2008 season with a three-game series against Quinnipiac. In 2009, the Spartans took on Clemson, Quinnipiac and Xavier, and in 2010, they faced Furman, Clemson and Miami-Ohio. During 2011, the Spartans went 2-1 at the First Pitch Invitational with victories over Charleston Southern and Furman in the first two games before dropping an 8-0 contest to No. 6 Clemson on Sunday. Overall, MSU is 7-6 in games played at Fluor Field. Last season, MSU defeated Miami-Ohio, 13-4, and then won two straight games over Furman before falling to Miami on Sunday, 1-0.

Michigan State baseball was picked third in the Big Ten according to a poll of conference coaches as announced on Tuesday, Feb. 12. Indiana and Nebraska came in on top followed by MSU, Ohio State, Minnesota and Illinois. The Spartans are coming off a season that ended in the NCAA Regionals, their first trip to the tournament since 1979.

"We talked about that five years ago and needed to increase expectations," head coach Jake Boss said. "We wanted to have a little bit of buzz around the program and that is to these guys' credit. They've put the work in and earned the success on the field. We are at a position now where people expect us to do some good things. That's a program type statement. We don't guarantee a championship every year, but at the same time we expect to compete for one."

Three MSU players were also named to the Big Ten Players to Watch list. Senior RHP Andrew Waszak and junior RHP David Garner, along with senior left fielder Jordan Keur represented Michigan State on the list.

Waszak compiled a 4-4 record with a 2.96 ERA last season as the No. 2 starter and tied for first in the Big Ten with 16 starts and ranked second in innings pitched with 106.1, second most in school history.

Garner saw action as both a starter and reliever last season and had a 6-3 record with a 3.28 ERA. He ranked seventh in the Big Ten in strikeouts (75) and fourth in hits allowed (64).

Keur, who started in all 60 games (49 in left field, 11 in center field) last season, was the team's lone first-team All-Big Ten selection and led the team with a .353 batting average, good for eighth in the conference. He finished the season with 89 hits, second in the Big Ten only to teammate Ryan Jones; that total also ranks fourth most in an MSU single-season.

The 2012 senior class helped Michigan State to a 130-94 record (.581), including three straight 30-win seasons and the 2011 Big Ten regular-season title. The 130 wins are the most by any senior class in the history of Michigan State baseball (second: 128, Class of 1989 and Class of 1990). The senior class included Tony Bucciferro, Andrew Carpenter, Bryce Jenney, Andy Johnson, Chad Nielsen, Justin Scanlon and Tim Simpson.

"I don't know that you do replace all of them," Boss said of the 2012 seniors. "We lost three infielders that were as good as anyone in the conference last year. We don't look at it as trying to replace those guys but doing the best job we can with the guys we have and I think we have some pretty talented guys. John Martinez will play third and also two new guys up the middle, but as long as we make the routine play, I think we will be OK."

Freshmen Justin Alleman (Holt, Mich./Holt High School) and Cam Gibson (Grosse Pointe, Mich./Grosse Pointe South High School), who signed National Letters of Intent with the Spartans last November and were also selected in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft in June, each elected to enroll at Michigan State University and continue their baseball careers in East Lansing.

A right-handed pitcher and infielder, Alleman was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 18th round (No. 553 overall), while Gibson, an outfielder, was chosen by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 38th round (No. 1173 overall).

"We plan on him closing for us," Boss said of Alleman. "He has a really strong arm and the breaking ball is coming. It shows signs of being a big league breaking ball at times. He is a guy that wants the ball and he can pitch on short rest. It's a pretty good combination for him to close as opposed to start right now and we will see what the future holds."

Alleman was named 2012 Mr. Baseball by the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association after recording a perfect 9-0 record and 1.43 ERA on the mound for Holt while striking out 146 batters. Gibson earned first-team MHSBCA Division 1 all-state honors the past two years. While helping lead Grosse Pointe South to a district title as a junior in 2011, Gibson had a .414 batting average with 32 runs, 13 doubles, seven homers and 40 RBIs.

The Spartans lost both second baseman Ryan Jones and shortstop Justin Scanlon off of last year's team and they both leave big shoes to fill. Jones, who was also named the Kirk Gibson Offensive Player of the Year and the Danny Litwhiler Defensive Player of the Year, led the Big Ten in hits with 92, which ranked third most in an MSU single-season. Selected in the 13th round (No. 418 overall) of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the San Francisco Giants, Jones is the only Spartan second baseman in school history to earn All-Big Ten honors three times (second team in 2010; first team in 2011; second team in 2012).

A second-team All-Big Ten selection, Scanlon started every game at shortstop for MSU the past two seasons - 117 straight - after transferring from Madison Junior College. He batted .265 with 27 RBIs, and collected a .314 average during conference games.

MSU will turn to Ryan Richardson, a redshirt sophomore transfer from Elgin Community College, at shortstop and sophomore Kevin Goergen at second base.

"I like the guys that we have," Boss said. "Our defensive philosophy has always been to make the routine plays. And Jones and Scanlon were certainly very good and took a lot of base hits away from teams. At the same time, with our pitching staff, if we can just make the routine play we have a chance to be pretty good."

Senior right-hander Andrew Waszak will get the call on the mound for the Spartans on Opening Day against Furman. Waszak is entering his third season in the weekend rotation and was voted a tri-captain by his teammates for the 2012 season. He tied for first in the Big Ten with 16 starts last season and also ranked among the Big Ten leaders in innings pitched (second with 106.1), opposing batting average (tied for sixth with .238) and ERA (eighth at 2.96). The 106.1 innings pitched were second most in school history. Waszak will step up and fill the No. 1 slot in the rotation after being the No. 2 guy last year. He went 4-4 last season with a 2.98 ERA as a junior.

"Waszak, as far as a leader, has turned into one of the best we have had since we've been here," Boss said. "He is a tremendous kid and has really taken ownership of the pitching staff."

Michigan State returns seven players with starting experience to the lineup for 2013: junior catcher Joel Fisher, sophomore first baseman Ryan Krill, senior third baseman John Martinez, senior left fielder Jordan Keur, sophomore center fielder Anthony Cheky, right fielder Jimmy Pickens and designated hitter Blaise Salter. On the mound, MSU welcomes back four starters with experience in senior Andrew Waszak, junior David Garner, sophomore Mick VanVossen and junior Mike Theodore. In the bullpen, the Spartans return Trey Popp and Jeff Kinley.

A crowd of more than 500 attended the eighth annual Michigan State Baseball First Pitch Dinner on Sunday , Feb. 3 at the Kellogg Center on the campus of MSU.

The program honored Tom Yewcic as the 2013 Spartan Baseball Alumnus of the Year and also featured a keynote speech from Lansing native and eight-time all-star John Smoltz.

Yewcic became just the third player and the fifth Spartan in program history to have his jersey number (No. 5) honored, joining Kirk Gibson (No. 30) and Hall of Famer Robin Roberts (No. 36), along with Spartan coaching legends John Kobs (No. 25) and Danny Litwhiler (No. 1). Yewcic's number will now be adorned on the right-field fence at McLane Baseball Stadium.

Michigan State...
• will play 10 teams receiving votes in the Collegiate Baseball Preseason Poll, including No. 8 Kentucky.
• will play three teams that earned bids to the NCAA Tournament last season in Austin Peay, Kentucky and Purdue.
• appeared in the NCAA Tournament in 2012 for the first time since 1979 last season.
• is coming off three consecutive 30-win seasons for the first time in program history.
• won 37 games last season, third most in program history.

Michigan State will open the 2013 season on the road for its first 18 games . . . The Spartans' first home series is scheduled for March 22-24 against Oakland at McLane Baseball Stadium . . . MSU owns a 57-21 (.730) record at home under head coach Jake Boss . . . MSU went 15-7 (.682) at home in 2012 . . . Boss is 49-20 (.710) overall at McLane Baseball Stadium and 8-1 (.889) at Cooley Law School Stadium in Lansing.

All three outfielders return off last year's NCAA Tournament team, led by left fielder Jordan Keur. The Spartans also bring back Anthony Cheky in center field and Jimmy Pickens in right. Keur ranked among the Big Ten leaders in batting average (eighth with .353), on-base percentage (fifth with .432), runs scored (eighth with 47) and hits (second with 89). The mark of 89 hits ranked third all-time in a single season at Michigan State. Sophomore Anthony Cheky, who was named to the Stanford All-Regional team last season, hit .311 with 15 stolen bases a year ago. As a freshman, Jimmy Pickens started 43 games in right field and saw action in 57 games. He was an All-Big Ten Freshman Team selection and led team with six homers while compiling a .257 batting average. Pickens also ranked third on the team with 35 RBIs.

Andrew Waszak and David Garner headline the Spartans' pitching staff, along with sophomore Mick VanVossen in the No. 3 role. MSU also has Mike Theodore returning with starting experience and MSU is expected to count on its starters often.

"All three of them have improved," Boss said. "David has become a lot more consistent. He has always had a ton of ability, but is starting to become more consistent and we know what we're going to get every time he takes the mound. Mick (VanVossen) has followed up a really strong freshman year and now the expectations are a little greater for him. At the same time, I think he is ready for it and I feel real good about all three of those guys."

Senior left fielder Jordan Kuer, senior third baseman John Martinez and senior right hander Andrew Waszak have been voted captains by their teammates for the 2013 season.

"It means a lot, these guys voted for me and it means a lot for me to have their support, for them to trust me," Waszak said. "Going out there, you don't have to worry about anything, just lead by example."

Waszak noted that the seniors are looking to leave their own legacy at MSU and that the camaraderie the three captains share is vital.

"We all live together and we've been friends since freshman year," Waszak said. "I've been friends with John (Martinez) since I was eight. All of us, we know each other really well, we're all close. I feel like we have a good combination of leadership to combat each other."

A crowd of more than 500 attended the eighth annual Michigan State Baseball First Pitch Dinner Sunday afternoon at the Kellogg Center on the campus of MSU. The program honored Tom Yewcic as the 2013 Spartan Baseball Alumnus of the Year and also featured a keynote speech from Lansing native John Smoltz.Smoltz nearly played baseball at Michigan State before signing a professional contract out of high school with the Detroit Tigers in 1985. He went on to a stellar 21-year career in the major leagues in which he earned all-star honors eight times and won the 1996 Cy Young Award.

"I've always considered myself a Spartan," said Smoltz, who is the only pitcher in Major League Baseball history to record 200 wins and 150 saves. "From afar, I've kept a keen eye (on the program). I've known Jake Boss ever since he took the job. I had played against his dad at Everett and all of the schools in the CAC. Part of my talk is coming full circle, and for this program, the Boss', and for me, it's all kind of an intertwined connection. I'm happy for him. They won a Big Ten Championship, they got into the NCAAs - those are all great signs."

One of the most decorated Spartans in school history, Yewcic was the starting quarterback in 1952 and 1953, leading the Spartans to an undefeated national championship in `52 and the program's first-ever Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl victory during the `53 season. In the spring of 1954, the first-team All-American catcher helped the baseball team win its first Big Ten title and advance to the College World Series.

"It's nice to be recognized," said Yewcic, who is also a member of the Michigan State Athletics Hall of Fame. "It's really remarkable in the years that I was there that it all came together. We won the national championship in football, we won the Rose Bowl, and then we go to the College World Series. It was exciting. I was very pleased with how everything went."

Furman (0-0)
• Finished 28-31 overall in 2012 and finished eighth in the Southern Conference with a 13-17 record.
• Third baseman Chris Ohmstede and RHP Elliott Warford were Southern Conference All-Freshman Team selections last season.
• Return 23 letterwinners from last season's team including six position starters.
• Head Coach Ron Smith's 20th season as the head coach at Furman.
• Outfielder Will Muzika was named to the coaches preseason All-SoCon second team.
• Picked to finish seventh and eighth out of 11 in a pair of Southern Conference preseason polls.
• Furman 2012 baseball signee Skye Overton has been named a 2013 Louisville Slugger Pre-Season High School All-American, it has been announced.
• Pitchers Tyler Wood and Matt Solter and Paladin outfielders Greg Harrison and Taylor Johnson have been named to summer baseball league all-star teams. • Pitcher Elliott Warford was named to the 2012 Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America Team as a relief pitcher last season.

Series History vs. Furman (6-1)
3/5/2002: Greenville, S.C. (L, 6-7)
2/19/2010: Greenville, S.C. (W, 8-6)
2/26/2011: Greenville, S.C. (W, 7-3)
2/24/2012: Greenville, S.C. (W, 4-2)
2/25/2012: Greenville, S.C. (W, 6-2)

Miami-Ohio (0-0)
• Picked to finish second in the East Division of the MAC.
• Finished 30-29 last year.
• Outfielder Matt Honchel was chosen as a pre-season All-American after a season in which he earned Freshman All-American honors, was a MAC Freshman of the year, and a first-team all-conference selection.
• Six position starters and three regular starting pitchers also return in 2013.
• Roster includes 15 letterwinners, including preseason All-America choice Matt Honchel.
• Honchel earned Freshman All-America, MAC Freshman of the Year and first-team all-conference honors after batting .395 in his initial collegiate campaign.
• Signed four players to national letters-of-intent on the opening day of the early signing period. Spencer Dull (Indianapolis, Ind.), Stephen Sada (Saegertown, Pa.), Jacob Banks (Cincinnati) and Christian Bokich (Hindsdale, Ill.) will play for the RedHawks beginning in 2014.

Series History vs. Miami-Ohio (5-2)
5/26/1979: East Lansing, Mich. (NCAA) (W, 6-4)
2/21/2010: Greenville, S.C. (W, 11-5)
3/9/2011: Lakeland, Fla. (W, 7-5)
2/24/2012: Greenville, S.C. (W, 13-4)
2/26/2012: Greenville, S.C. (L, 0-1)

Northwestern (0-0)
• Northwestern junior Kyle Ruchim has been named to the ninth annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Preseason Stopper of the Year Watch List the association announced Friday.
• Ruchim led the Wildcats with seven saves in 2012 as sophomore. The hard-throwing right-hander posted a 3.38 ERA in 17 appearances.
• Northwestern seniors Luke Farrell, Zach Morton and Trevor Stevens have been named Big Ten Players to Watch in the 2013 season.
• Farrell led the Wildcat pitching staff with 19 appearances in 2012, including seven starts.
• Morton led Northwestern with four complete games in 2012 and ranked second with 83.2 IP. He posted a 3.46 ERA and fanned 49 batters in 14 appearances. • At the plate, Morton led the Wildcats with a .297 batting average, 62 hits, 20 multi-hit games and 34 runs scored.
• Finished 18-36 last season and went 6-18 in the Big Ten.
• Junior infielder Kyle Ruchim and sophomore starting pitcher Brandon Magallones have been named to the College Sports Madness Preseason All-Big Ten team.

Series History vs. Northwestern (84-47-1)
5/21/2010 Evanston, Ill. (W, 2-1)
5/22/2010 Evanston, Ill. (L, 6-8)
5/19/2011 East Lansing, Mich. (W, 3-0)
5/20/2011 East Lansing, Mich. (W, 10-1)
5/21/2011 East Lansing, Mich. (L, 5-6)



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