March 9, 2008
HOUSTON, Texas - The Michigan State baseball program made strides toward national prominence over the weekend, winning two of three games at the Rice Invitational in Houston March 6-8. MSU defeated defending Southern Conference champ Western Carolina, 5-3, on Thursday before defeating host Rice, 9-3, on Friday. Rice is ranked No. 4 in the most recent Rivals.com poll and No. 7 in the USA Today/ESPN rankings. The Spartans and Owls tied atop the four-team standings with identical 2-1 records, however, MSU held an edge by winning the head-to-head battle between the two schools.
Senior outfielder Justin Potes went 3-for-4 and senior right-hander Mike Monterey pitched six solid innings in the Spartans' 5-3 win over Western Carolina. Junior Kyle Day and freshman Jonathan Roof added two hits apiece.
In what was one of the program's biggest wins ever, Potes and sophomore Chris Roberts hit home runs and senior right-hander Chris Cullen worked seven strong innings to push MSU past Rice, 9-3. The Spartans collected 12 hits in the contest, including nine against Rice ace Ryan Berry, who was named 2008 Conference USA Preseason Pitcher of the Year.
The three games at the Rice Invitational concluded Michigan State's nine-game spring trip. The 10-day trip included four games against teams that made the 2007 NCAA Tournament and two games each against winning teams LSU and Kansas State.
MSU dropped the finale to Creighton, 15-1.
Michigan State (5-7) will travel to Greenville, S.C. for a three-game series against Quinnipiac March 14-16. The Spartans will serve as the host team for the series, which will be played at West End Field, the home of the Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.
Rice Invitational Final Standings
Michigan State (2-1)
Western Carolina (1-2)