Baseball Ready to Challenge No. 21 TCU
Spartans will take on the Horned Frogs in at three-game set in Fort Worth.
March 6, 2014
This weekend will mark the first-ever meetings between Michigan State and TCU.
Blaise Salter continues to lead MSU at the plate with a .341 batting average ... Salter carries a 10-game hitting streak into Friday's game, which is tied for his career long.
Salter's 11 RBIs are tied for tops in the Big Ten, while Jimmy Pickens' 10 RBIs are tied for second most.
MSU's 20 doubles rank in a tie for third in the Big Ten, while its 10 stolen bases rank third in the conference.
The pitching staff's 71 strikeouts are fourth most in the conference.
Michigan State leads the Big Ten in fielding double plays with 13.
Anthony Cheky's six stolen bases (6-7) are tied for third in the conference ... Last season, Checky tied for first in the Big Ten with 23 stolen bases.
The Spartan bullpen has a 3.04 ERA through 11 games ... Six of the 11 pitchers that have come out of the bullpen have yet to allow an earned run in 20.0 combined innings.
Michigan State has outscored opponents by a combined margin of 22-4 in the fifth through seventh innings this season.
Freshman reliever Walter Borkovich was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Monday ... Borkovich tossed 4.2 innings of scoreless relief in Sunday's 18-13 win over Eastern Illinois.
MSU is 3-0 when playing error-free baseball and is 4-0 when carrying a lead into the ninth inning.
After going 12-3 in one-run games last season, MSU is off to another good start in 2014, going 2-0 in one-run games so far this season.
Closer Jeff Kinley picked up saves in both victories over Wright State on opening weekend and earned another vs. Utah, giving him three on the year, which is tied for second in the Big Ten ... Kinley, a redshirt junior, made just nine appearances last year after suffering a blood clot in his arm.
The Spartans won at least 30 games for the fourth consecutive season last year ... Entering the season, MSU had more wins (140) than any other Big Ten team over the last four seasons.
The No. 21 Horned Frogs bring an 8-4 record into this weekend's series and is coming off a 5-4 15-inning win over Dallas Baptist ... TCU leads the Big 12 with 25 stolen bases ... TCU ranks second in the conference in pitching with a 2.15 ERA and first in strikeouts with 115 ... Preston Morrison leads the Big 12 with a 0.39 ERA, while game one starter Brandon Finnegan leads the nation in strikeouts with 33.
Pickens Leads Offensive Outburst
The Spartans' 18 hits and 20 runs in last Sunday's 18-13 win over Eastern Illinois were their highest totals since producing 25 hits and 20 runs in a 20-10 win over Indiana on April 15, 2012. Jimmy Pickens went 4-for-4 with six RBIs in the win, marking the second time in his career the junior has recorded six RBIs in a game. Pickens' last had six RBIs on May 4, 2012 vs. Illinois.
The Spartans currently lead the Big Ten in double plays with 13, which is just one shy of half their total (28) from all of last season. MSU turned four double plays in the Mar. 1 loss to No. 15 Mississippi State, marking its most double plays in a game since March 10, 2011 when it also had four against Boston College.
Salter's Hot Start
With a hit in each of the last 10 games, Blaise Salter brings the Spartans' longest hitting streak into play this Friday. Salter tied Ryan Richardson for the longest hitting streak by a Spartan last season, also with 10.
Lowery has made six appearances, which ranks second on the team. Lowery earned his first collegiate win by pitching a scoreless final 1.1 innings against No. 1 Oregon State.
Borkovich was named the Big Ten Rookie of the Week on Monday after tossing 4.2 innings of scoreless relief in the 18-13 win over Eastern Illinois. On the season, Borkovich is 1-0 and has yielded seven hits in 6.0 innings.
Kinley Back Healthy
Redshirt junior closer Jeff Kinley is back healthy after a blood clot forced him to miss nearly the entire 2013 season. Kinley saw action in just nine games and after discovering the blood clot in mid-March, he was unable to pitch the remainder of the season. In 2012, his last full season, Kinley posted a 2.47 ERA in 47.1 innings of work. He had a 6-5 record with two saves and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of nearly 4-to-1.
Taking Down No. 1
Michigan State's 8-7 win over No. 1 Oregon State on Feb. 22 was its third over a top-10 non-conference opponent since 2008. Oregon State was the highest-ranked non-conference opponent MSU has defeated since topping No. 6 Rice, 9-3, in 2008.