Spartans Travel to Greenville, S.C., for Second Straight Weekend
Feb. 21, 2013
SPARTANS TRAVEL TO GREENVILLE FOR SECOND STRAIGHT WEEKEND
The Spartans open this weekend's slate with two games on Friday. MSU will take on Western Carolina at 1 p.m., following by a 5 p.m. start against Cincinnati. The Catamounts are off to a 3-1 start following a midweek victory over Wake Forest and a series win over Washington State. The Bearcats were swept last weekend at Florida Atlantic.
In a rematch of Opening Day, Michigan State and Furman will meet again on Saturday at 2 p.m. The Spartans led the Paladins 3-2 with two outs and the bases empty in the bottom of the ninth, but Furman rallied for two runs to pull out the 4-3 victory. MSU closes out the weekend against Miami-Ohio on Sunday at 11 a.m.
1) QUOTING COACH BOSS
On heading back to Greenville and the difference between this weekend and last weekend...
On how big these games are after a tough weekend last weekend...
On having snow in South Carolina...
On South Carolina's chilly weather again this weekend and it affecting their play...
2) SPARTANS AT FLUOR FIELD
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. Last season, MSU defeated Miami-Ohio, 13-4, and then won two straight games over Furman before falling to Miami on Sunday, 1-0. Overall, MSU is 8-7 in games played at Fluor Field.
3) BIG TEN PRESEASON POLL
"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."
4) LOOK OUT
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.
5) REPLACING THE WINNINGEST SENIOR CLASS
"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."
6) DRAFTED SPARTANS STAYING 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.
7) NEW FACES IN THE MIDDLE
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.
"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."
8) FRIDAY STARTER
Waszak 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 starter 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."
9) FAMILIAR FACES RETURNING
WELCOMING BACK THE OUTFIELD
HOW ABOUT THE STAFF
"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."
THREE SENIORS VOTED TEAM CAPTAINS
"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."
SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS
Western Carolina (3-1)
Bobby Moranda, who is in his sixth season as the head coach, owns a 159-127-2 record at WCU.
The Catamounts return 23 letterwinners from last season's 32-24 team.
UC returns 16 letterwinners from last season's team that went 18-38 and finished 12th in the Big Ten at 7-20.
Michigan State swept a three-game series at Cincinnati last season, including a 14-inning win in the second game of the series.
Coach Boss is 4-0 against UC as the head coach at Michigan State.
Bearcat junior outfielder Justin Glass, a 2012 All-Big Ten First Team selection, was named to the All-Big East preseason team. Glass had 83 hits and 21 doubles last season for UC.
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.
Ron Smith is in his 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 Preseason 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.
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.
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