Spartans Face Illinois And Furman In First Pitch Invitational At Greenville
Inclement weather condenses annual three-day tournament to two days of doubleheaders.
|MICHIGAN STATE (3-8, 0-0 B1G) at FIRST PITCH INVITATIONAL|
|Location||Fluor Field || Greenville, S.C.|
|Weather||Friday: High/Low - 59/39 | Saturday: High/Low - 65/47|
|Game Notes||Michigan State | Illinois | Furman|
|Social Media|| @statebaseball | MichiganStateBaseball @statebaseballgogreen
|Game 1||Friday, March 9 - 2 p.m. ET - vs. Illinois|
|Probable Pitching Matchup||MSU: RHP #4 Riley McCauley (JR) (0-1, 3.24 ERA) vs. ILL: RHP #33 Quinn Snarskis (JR) (0-0, 3.21 ERA)|
|Coverage||GameTracker | Listen Live (Illinois Radio)|
|Game 2||Friday, March 9 - 6 p.m. ET - vs. Furman|
|Probable Pitching Matchup||MSU: RHP #7 Ethan Landon (JR) (0-2, 3.63 ERA) vs. FUR: LHP #25 Matt Lazzaro (FR) (0-2, 7.31 ERA)|
|Coverage||GameTracker | Watch Live|
|Game 3||Saturday, March 10 - 5 p.m. ET - vs. Illinois|
|Probable Pitching Matchup||MSU: RHP #30 Mason Erla (RS-FR) (1-0, 3.36 ERA) vs. ILL: RHP #7 Ty Weber (SO) (2-0, 3.57 ERA)|
|Coverage||GameTracker | Listen Live (Illinois Radio)|
Michigan State baseball hosts the ninth-annual First Pitch Invitational in Greenville, S.C., at Fluor Field, home of the Greenville Drive, Friday and Saturday, March 9-10. Due to inclement weather in the forecast for Sunday, the original three-day schedule has been altered and condensed to Friday and Saturday, giving MSU seven games in a nine-day span on its Spring Break trek.
MSU opens action against Illinois on Friday at 2 p.m., followed by facing Furman at 6 p.m. ET. The Spartans will then take on Illinois on Saturday at 5 p.m., after Illinois and Furman’s game at 1 p.m. While they are fellow Big Ten Conference foes, this weekend’s games against Illinois are non-conference contests.
• This weekend’s games will have live stats via “GameTracker” links found at MSUSpartans.com, along with a “Watch Live” link for Friday night’s game vs. Furman, as well as “Listen Live” links to listen to both Illinois and Furman broadcasts.
• Owner/President of the Greenville Drive is MSU alum Craig Brown, who was the 2016 Alumnus of the Year at the Michigan State Baseball First Pitch Dinner in 2016.
About Fluor Field
Opened in 2006, Fluor Field is a 5,700-seat stadium, home of the Greenville Drive, the A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. Fluor Field nearly replicates the dimensions of Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox. The ballpark has its own “Green Monster” replica, a 30-foot high wall in left field as opposed to the 37-foot one found at Fenway, and contains a manual scoreboard. Every other dimension is to the same specifications as Fenway Park, including “Pesky’s Pole” in right field. Other than the tribute to Fenway, Fluor Field also pays tribute to the Greenville area as the ballpark’s nostalgic look utilizes reclaimed bricks from local mills.
Greenville / Spartan Connection
Owner/President of the Greenville Drive is MSU alum Craig Brown, who was the 2016 Alumnus of the Year at the Michigan State First Pitch Dinner. Last winter, Craig and his wife, Vicki (Huber) Brown, were named the Michigan State University Alumni Association’s Philanthropists of the Year. Craig Brown earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in the Eli Broad College of Business, majoring in accounting, in 1973. Vicki Brown earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in the College of Education, majoring in special education, in 1975.
As President of the Greenville Drive, Mr. Brown focuses on the activities that result in the Drive being part of the fabric of the community. Fluor Field, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary season, is one of a handful of privately owned stadiums in America and was named Ballpark of the Year upon its debut in 2006. Mr. Brown is also the CEO of Keelers Ridge Associates (KRA), an investment and consulting firm that is engaged in entrepreneurial activities involving sports, technology, and marketing.
Mr. and Mrs. Brown actively support academic and athletic programs at Michigan State. Craig also serves on the Athletic Director’s Advisory Council and chairs Spartan Innovations. Formerly, he oversaw the MSU Foundation Board. In recognition of their generosity, an area of the Spartan Stadium North End Zone bears their names. The Browns also belong to MSU’s Empower Extraordinary President’s Capital Campaign Cabinet.
North Carolinian Iverson Close To Home
MSU freshman infielder/pitcher Zach Iverson is from Charlotte, North Carolina, which is where the Spartans flew in to on Sunday night, arriving from Minneapolis. Iverson attended Providence Day High School, where he earned first-team USA TODAY High School Sports all-state honors as an outfielder. Iverson also earned all-conference accolades after hitting .506 with 48 RBI, eight doubles and six HR, while posting a 0.93 ERA with two wins and five saves in 13 appearances on the mound. He broke school records for single-season RBI (48) as well as single-season saves and career saves (11) Prior to the 2018 season, Iverson was named one of the Top 30 Impact Freshmen in the Big Ten by TenInnings.com.
Michigan State has four players from Illinois in sophomore outfielder Danny Gleaves (Homer Glen/St. Rita HS), junior third baseman Marty Bechina (Chicago/St. Rita HS), freshman infielder Ryan King (Munster/Brother Rice HS), redshirt-freshman pitcher Zac Bianucci (Naperville/Naperville Central HS).
Michigan State vs. Illinois Series Breakdown
All-Time Series: ILL leads, 76-69 / Home 34-28 / Away 30-43 / Neutral 5-5 / Streak MSU W3
First Met: April 26, 1952 - East Lansing, Mich. - Illinois W, 10-8
Last Meeting: March 26, 2017 - Champaign, Ill. - MSU W, 17-6
Michigan State vs. Furman Series Breakdown
All-Time Series: MSU leads, 8-4 / Away 3-3 / Neutral 5-1 / Streak MSU W2
First Met: March 6, 1935 - Greenville, S.C. - MSU W, 17-1
Last Meeting: March 3, 2017 - Greenville, S.C. - MSU W, 3-2
Head Coach Jake Boss Jr. Closing In On 300
MSU head coach Jake Boss, Jr., won his 300th career game as a collegiate head coach last season, and is nearing his 300th win at the helm of the Spartans. In his 10th season as the MSU head coach, Boss has a 296-211 (.584) record, coaching his 500th game leading the Spartans in the opening weekend at Fresno State. Boss is also in his 11th overall season as a collegiate head coach and has a 321-245 (.567) ledger. Boss would become the fifth head coach in the Spartans’ history to reach the 300-win plateau.
Just like last season, Spartan fans may have paid for their entire seat, but they have only needed the edge of them so far this season, as six of MSU’s first 11 games of the 2018 season have been 1-run games, with the Spartans posting a 2-4 mark in those six 1-run contests. Last season, Michigan State was involved in a total of 17 1-run games, as well as three 2-run games. MSU was 5-12 in 1-run games and 3-0 in 2-run contests.
The six 1-run games is the third-most in the country (according to research collection by Chris Rash of Elon), as Elon and Fresno State have both been involved in eight 1-run games. Michigan State played Fresno State in the opening weekend of the season and three of the four games of the weekend series were 1-run games.
The Spartans have also played a total of seven games decided by two runs or less, with along with the six 1-run games, they lost to No. 10 Clemson, 9-7, on March 7.
Fresno State 9 of 14 games (64.3%)
Elon 8 of 13 games (61.5%)
Michigan State 6 of 11 games (54.5%)
Arizona 5 of 12 games (50.0%)
UNCW 5 of 12 games (41.7%)
Virginia Tech 5 of 13 games (38.5%)
Coastal Carolina 5 of 14 games (35.7%)
Loyola Marymount 4 of 13 games (30.8%)
Stetson 3 of 11 games (27.3%)
Games Decided by 1-2 Runs
Elon 12 of 13 games (92.3%)
Fresno State 10 of 14 games (71.4%)
Michigan State 7 of 11 games (63.6%)
Virginia Tech 8 of 13 games (61.5%)
Loyola Marymount 8 of 13 games (61.5%)
Arizona 7 of 12 games (58.3%)
UNCW 7 of 12 games (58.3%)
Coastal Carolina 6 of 14 games (42.9%)
Stetson 4 of 11 games (36.4%)
1-2 Punchout By McCauley & Landon
Spartan pitchers junior Riley McCauley and senior Ethan Landon are Nos. 1 and 2 in the Big Ten in strikeouts, with 23 and 21, respectively.
There are only four pitchers in the Big Ten with 20+ strikeouts so far this season, and two of them pitch for the Spartans in McCauley and Landon, with the others being Luis Alvarado of Nebraska and Jonathan Stiever of Indiana, both with 20 Ks apiece.
McCauley and Landon entered this week palindromically tied for 58th and 85th, respectively, in the NCAA in strikeouts.
McCauley-ing Lots of Strikes
MSU junior pitcher Riley McCauley fired a career-high 12 strikeouts in the loss at Fresno State in his first-ever start on Feb. 16. After making 25 relief appearances last season, McCauley made the first start of his career and went 6.0 complete, allowing just one run on two hits, walking two and firing a career-high 12 strikeouts. McCauley becomes the first MSU pitcher with 12+ Ks since Cam Vieaux chalked up 13 vs. UConn, March 15, 2015.
McCauley’s 12 strikeouts is currently the most in a single-game so far this season in the Big Ten, and the Spartan hurler also leads the B1G with 23 total strikeouts this season, ranking tied for 58th in the NCAA at the start of the week.
McCauley also leads the Big Ten and ranked tied for 79th in the NCAA in K/9 innings with 12.42. He is also third in the league in strikeout-walk ratio with 5.75, along with tied for 10th in the conference innings pitched with 16.2.
Landon-ing It In The Strike Zone
Spartan senior hurler Ethan Landon also rang up a career-high strikeouts, posting nine punchouts in 6.2 IP at Fresno State on Feb. 17, adding six Ks at Pepperdine on Feb. 24. Landon’s nine strikeout outing was his most strikeouts since six Ks last season, which also came against Fresno State and also in the second game of a doubleheader, on April 8, 2017 at Grand Rapids.
Landon leads the league and is tied for 30th in the NCAA with 0.52 walks per nine inning average. The Spartan veteran is also second in the B1G with 21 strikeouts, tied for the 11th-most in the NCAA, ranking tied for 85th overall.
Landon also is tied for sixth in the B1G in innings pitched at 17.1 IP, along with just outside the top 10 of the league in ERA, currently at 3.63.
MSU redshirt-freshman pitcher Mason Erla has made a smashing return to action from a season-ending injury last February. Erla has been extra effective in his three starts, most recently going 6.0 IP, with three hits, allowing just two runs and striking out two, last Sunday in a no decision vs. Arizona. That came on the heels of a 5.0 IP outing at Pepperdine, posting four strikeouts and allowing just two hits while not walking anyone in the 1-0 win at Pepperdine, retiring the last 11 of 13 batters faced to earn his first win as a college pitcher.
For the season, Erla now has 16.0 IP with 10 strikeouts, spraying 11 hits, in his three outings this season after returning to action from a season-ending injury last February.
Erla is sixth in the B1G in opposition batting average, holding opponents to just .193.
Nearly Noneski By Tyranksi
MSU sophomore relief pitcher Mitchell Tyranski has a 0.71 ERA in his five appearances so far this season, allowing the first run of the season last Friday vs. Washington.
Tyranski made his first start of his career on Wednesday vs. No. 10 Clemson, and went 3.2 IP without a run and stymieing the high-powered Clemson offense to just one hit, while striking out three.
In five appearances, Tyranski now has 12.2 IP this season, with nine strikeouts and allowing just five hits and one run in five appearances, holding opposition bats to a paltry .135, which ranks second in the B1G.
Tyranski earned his first collegiate victory in MSU’s 5-2 win at Pepperdine on Feb. 24, going 4.1 IP, grounding the Waves’ bats allowing just one hit, while striking out five and walking just one, in picking up his first win of his career.
Contrary to the warm Malibu sunshine at Pepperdine, MSU’s bullpen was lights out in California, as the Spartan relievers didn’t allow a run in 11.2 IP, striking out 11, while allowing just two hits.
The cold of Minnesota did little to slow down the Spartans’ hot bullpen, as they only allowed a total of three runs in the three games, and all three runs came against Washington. In the three games of the Dairy Queen Classic/B1G-Pac-12 Challenge, MSU’s bullpen pitched 9.0 IP, allowing eight hits, but just three runs, while striking out three.
Through 11 games, the Spartan relievers have allowed 19 runs in 36.2 IP, with 32 strikeouts, and a combined ERA of 4.66. MSU relievers also have collected two wins and one save so far this season.
Chalking Up The Ks
Michigan State’s pitching staff fired a season-high 17 strikeouts in the 5-4 loss at Fresno State on Feb. 16, the Spartans’ most Ks since firing 19 punchouts vs. Campbell on March 17, 2017.
All-Tournament Accolades For Antoncic
Spartan sophomore infielder/outfielder Justin Antonic was named to the Dairy Queen Classic B1G/Pac-12 Challenge All-Tournament Team. Antoncic hit .462 for the weekend, including his first home run of his Spartan career off No. 11 UCLA, adding two doubles. He also posted the first three-hit outing of his career going 3-for-4 vs. Arizona, and also made a career-high six putouts in the field. He was also part of MSU’s three-run ninth inning rally for a 3-2 walkoff win over Arizona on Sunday, with a single and later scored the tying run. Antoncic also extended his hit streak to five-straight games, with multi-hit games in the last two outings.
For the season, Antoncic is leading the Spartans at the plate with a .378 average, which is seventh in the B1G. Antoncic also leads MSU and is eighth in the league with a .622 slugging percentage.
Junior infielder Royce Ando tied a career-high with four hits in Wednesday’s loss to No. 10 Clemson, and is now hitting .333 on the season.
Freshman infielder Ryan King has had a smashing Spartan debut, joining Antoncic and junior infielder Royce Ando in hitting over .300, currently at .303 with one double and one run scored.
Michigan State has six home runs so far this season and four of them are of the 2-run variety, including three in the opening weekend, adding one at Pepperdine. Senior designated hitter Chad Roskelly belted the Spartans’ first home run of the season, blasting a two-run home run to left field in the eighth inning, capping a four-run frame for the Spartans. Sophomore infielder/outfielder Justin Antoncic belted the first round-tripper of his Spartan career in the loss to UCLA.
All four of MSU’s runs in the 5-4 loss at Fresno State on Feb. 18 came via the long ball, with a pair of two-run home runs by junior third baseman Marty Bechina and senior first baseman Zack McGuire.
Bechina added a two-run round-tripper at Pepperdine on Feb. 24, after Roskelly had a solo shot the day before. Bechina and Roskelly share the team lead with two home runs each, ranking tied for seventh in the B1G.
Last Weekend Recap
Michigan State went 1-2 at the Dairy Queen Classic B1G/Pac-12 Challenge at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn. The Spartans opened the weekend with a 4-3 loss to Washington in 10 innings on Friday. MSU then battled No. 11 UCLA on Saturday, falling 4-1. Michigan State got in the win column on Sunday with a 3-2 come-from-behind victory, rallying with three runs in the bottom of the ninth for the Spartans’ first walk-off win of the season.
Erla 10 Innings Big Ten Freshman Of The Week
Spartans redshirt-freshman pitcher Mason Erla was the 10 Innings Big Ten Freshman of the Week after his performance in Michigan State’s 1-0 win at Pepperdine on Feb. 25. Erla went 5.0 IP with four strikeouts and allowed just two hits with no walks, retiring the last 11 of 13 batters faced to earn his first collegiate win.
Sophomore infielder/outfielder Justin Antoncic brings a six-game hitting streak into Wednesday’s action against Clemson, good for the longest of the season for the Spartans, breaking a tie with freshman infielder Ryan King, as King had his five-game hitting streak halted at Pepperdine on Feb. 25 ... Antoncic is also the only Spartan with a current hitting streak of more than two games, but junior third baseman/outfielder Marty Bechina, junior outfielder Dan Chmielewski and freshman infielder/outfielder Zach Iverson all have two-game hitting streaks ... Antoncic also has a six-game active reached base streak, also pulling away from a tie King for the longest this season ... along with Bechina, Chmielewski and Iverson, junior catcher Nic Lacayo, sophomore outfielder Danny Gleaves and sophomore infielder Bailey Peterson all have reached base in the last two games ... King leads the Spartans with five multi-hit games, while Antoncic is four with three.
Late Inning Scoreboard Lighting
Of Michigan State’s 34 runs scored so far this season, a combined 22 runs have been scored after the fifth inning, with six runs in the sixth, three in the seventh, seven in the eighth and six in the ninth.
Those numbers are bolstered by the Spartans’ four-run eighth inning of game one of the opening weekend at Fresno State, adding one run in the first game of the doubleheader on Feb. 17. Last weekend, MSU scored two runs in the eighth against Washington on March 2.
MSU had a big sixth inning on Feb. 24 at Pepperdine, plating four runs. The Spartans also plated two runs in the sixth frame at Fresno State on Feb. 18.
Swiping ‘Em Up
Michigan State entered the week tied for second in the B1G and tied for 56th in the NCAA in stolen bases with 15, boosted by swiping five in the second game of the doubleheader at Fresno State on Feb. 17. Sophomore utility player Justin Antoncic stole two bags, while sophomore outfielders Bryce Kelley and Dan Chmielewski along with freshman infielder Zach Iverson all stole one apiece.
Individually, Kelley is sixth in the B1G with four stolen bases, while Antoncic and sophomore outfielder Danny Gleaves have each swiped three and Chmielewski has two.
The Illini are 6-3 on the season, winning their last five in a row, including all three at the DQ/B1G-Pac-12 Challenge with MSU, to take the team title. Illinois is making its second weekend trip to the Palmetto State, as the Illini played in a four-game tournament at Coastal Carolina in Conway, S.C., Feb. 23-25.
Illinois is led by junior outfielder/infielder Bren Spillane with a .382 average with 10 RBI, five doubles, one triple and one home run, along with swiping three stolen bases. Sophomore infielders Michael Massey and Ben Troike are both hitting .324, with Massey notching five RBI, while Troike has four.
Friday’s probable starter is junior right-hander Quinn Snarskis, who is 0-0 with a 3.21 ERA in three appearances, with 14.0 IP, five runs, seven walks and eight strikeouts. The probable starter for Saturday’s finale is sophomore righty Ty Weber, who is 2-0 with a 3.57 ERA, leading UI with 17.2 IP, allowing seven runs, while walking seven and logging eight strikeouts. Junior right-hander Joey Gerber has three saves in 4.2 IP with a 5.79 ERA, with seven strikeouts.
Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb is in his 13th season leading the Illini, posting a 384-285-1 record.
The Paladins are 8-5 on the year, winning three in a row and five of their last season, most recently beating Penn, 12-4, on Tuesday and 4-1 on Wednesday.
Junior third baseman Jake Crawford leads Furman with a .486 average with seven RBI, two doubles and one home run. Freshman outfielder Ben Anderson is hitting .392 with nine RBI, two doubles and two triples. Senior catcher Jason Costa is the third and final Paladin hitting over .300, at .333 and leading the team with 11 RBI and three HR, adding four doubles.
Friday’s probable starter is freshman left-hander Matt Lazzaro, who is 0-2 with a 7.31 ERA, in 16.0 IP, allowing 19 runs, 13 earned, with just two walks and eight strikeouts. Senior righty Tyler Kimbrell, junior lefty Grant Schuermann and sophomore righty Jonathan Mouw all have one save apiece.
Furman head coach Brett Harker has a 45-33 record in his second season leading the Paladins.
The Spartans are slated to host their 2018 home opener on Thursday, March 15, hosting Niagara in a four-game series, Thursday-Sunday, March 15-18 at Kobs Field at McLane Stadium.
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