Baseball Heads to Greenville to Face Harvard
Spartans return to Greenville for the seventh consecutive season.
March 14, 2014
The Spartans are heading to Greenville, S.C., for the seventh consecutive season as MSU will take on Harvard in a three-game series beginning on Saturday at 2 p.m.
MSU is 13-10 at Fluor Field since it began playing at the facility in 2008.
Three of the Spartans' seven wins this season have come vs. top-25 teams (No. 1 Oregon State, No. 21 TCU - twice.)
Cam Gibson brings a team-leading five-game hitting streak into this weekend ... Gibson is hitting .293 on the season.
The Spartans have five home runs through 14 games which are tied for second in the Big Ten with Indiana.
Led by Anthony Cheky's team-high seven stolen bases, MSU ranks second in the conference with a total of 19.
The Spartan bullpen has combined for six saves, which is best in the Big Ten ... The six saves are already half the team's total from all of 2013.
Despite having his 12-game hitting streak come to an end last Sunday, Blaise Salter continues to lead the Spartans in batting average (.314) and RBIs (14) ... His 14 RBIs are tied for third in the Big Ten.
Starter Mick VanVossen is 3-0 this season and ranks in the top-10 in the conference in several categories, including: ERA (ninth, 2.42), opponent batting average (10th, .224), innings pitched (fourth, 26.0) and strikeouts (fifth, 19).
Michigan State has outscored opponents by a combined margin of 22-5 in the fifth through seventh innings this season.
MSU is 3-0 when playing error-free baseball and is 5-0 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 3-0 in one-run games so far this year.
Closer Jeff Kinley picked up saves in both victories over Wright State on opening weekend and has since picked up two more, giving him four on the year, which is tied for tops 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.
Spartans in Greenville
Greenville's Fluor Field has become a home away from home for the Spartans as they will play at the stadium for the seventh consecutive season. MSU is 13-10 at Flour Field since it began playing there in 2008.
Fluor Field 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 Ballparks.com in its inaugural season. Drive co-owner and team president Craig Brown is an alumnus of Michigan State University.
Coming off of three consecutive losses, Harvard is set to play Michigan State with a record of 1-7 ... The team leads the Ivy League with a batting average of .263 ... Carlton Bailey leads the team with five RBIs, which is tied for second in the Ivy League ... Mike Martin also ranks in the Ivy League top five with five stolen bases.
VanVossen Impresses Early
Junior starting pitcher Mick VanVossen is already 3-0 through four starts this season. VanVossen has gone at least six complete innings in three of his four starts, going 2-0 in those outings. In his last start at No. 21 TCU, VanVossen went eight innings, yielding just one run off six hits in MSU's 4-1 win. He struck out six and walked just two in earning his third win of the year.
VanVossen ranks in the top-10 in the Big Ten in ERA (ninth, 2.42), opponent batting average (10th, .224), innings pitched (fourth, 26.0) and strikeouts (fifth, 19).
Salter Paces The Offense
With a .314 batting average and 14 RBIs, junior Blaise Salter has been the Spartans' most dangerous hitter so far this season. Salter's career-long 12-game hitting came to an end last Sunday, but not after a belted a go-ahead, two-run homer in the ninth inning of Friday's game to lift MSU to a 2-1 victory over No. 21 TCU.
Salter has seven extra-base hits and has RBIs in eight games.
Alleman Settling Into Starter Role
In his first year as a starter, sophomore Justin Alleman is 1-0 with a 2.86 ERA. In four starts this season, he has given up just seven earned runs in 22.0 innings. Opponents are hitting just .221 against the Holt native.
After making 22 appearances all out of the bullpen last season, Alleman won his first-career start on Feb. 16 in MSU's 2-1 victory over Wright State. Alleman threw six-complete scoreless innings and surrendered just four hits to earn in the victory.
Lowery has made seven 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. He has picked up saves in each of his last two outings, including most recently on March 7 in the 2-1 victory over No. 21 TCU.
Borkovich was named the Big Ten Rookie of the Week on March 3 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 eight hits in 6.2 innings.
Since Jake Boss took over the Spartan program in 2009, the Spartans have a 41-33 record in one-run games, including 3-0 this season. The Spartans were outstanding in one-run games last season, going 12-3.
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's four saves so far in 2014 rank in a tie for first in the conference. His last save came in the Spartans 4-1 win over No. 21 TCU where he tossed one-complete scoreless inning.
Kinley saw action in just nine games last season 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.
Spartans Lead the Big Ten in Wins Over The Last Four Years
Michigan State posted its fourth consecutive 30-win season last year, going 33-17. The Spartans entered the 2014 campaign with a total of 140 wins over the past four years - more than any other team in the conference. Indiana ranked second with 139, while Purdue was third with 132.
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. Since 200, MSU has 10 wins over non-conference ranked opponents. Oregon State was the highest-ranked non-conference opponent MSU has defeated since topping No. 6 Rice, 9-3, in 2008.
The Spartans will open Big Ten play next weekend when they take on Ohio State.