Baseball Travels to First-Place Indiana
April 17, 2014
Michigan State travels to nationally-ranked Indiana to meet the Hoosiers in a three-game series ... The Hoosiers are 10-1 over their last 11 games, while the Spartans have an 8-3 mark over their last 11.
This weekend's series features the top-two pitching staffs in the conference as the Hoosiers rank first in team ERA at 2.71 and MSU second at 2.88 ... MSU leads the conference in opponent batting average at .244, while IU is third at .257.
The Spartan bullpen has been outstanding so far this season and enters Friday's having allowed just one earned run over the past 14 games - a span of 48.0 innings ... On the season, the MSU bullpen has a 2.02 ERA in 116.0 total innings.
In recording at least 10 hits in six of the last seven games, the Spartans have raised their team batting average to a season-high .268 ... The Spartans rank fourth in the conference in triples (nine) and fourth in home runs (13).
Jimmy Pickens enters the weekend having reached base in a career-high 22 consecutive games ... The 22-game streak is the longest since Torsten Boss reached base safely in 24 consecutive contests during the 2012 season.
MSU is 7-0 when scoring in the first inning and 14-1 when it scores first.
Blaise Salter has been one of the Big Ten's best run-producers this season and enters the weekend second in the league with 32 RBIs ... His 14 doubles lead the league, and rank 25th nationally, while his .551 slugging percentage ranks fourth.
The Spartans continue to lead the conference in stolen bases with 55 ... Junior Anthony Cheky has a Big Ten-high 20 stolen bases, which ranks ninth in the nation.
All three of the Spartans' weekend starters - Cam Vieaux (.206, third), Mick VanVossen (.210, fourth) and Justin Alleman (.213, fifth) - rank in the top five in the conference in opponent batting average ... Vieaux's 1.62 ERA is the lowest of any starter in the league, and second-lowest overall, while VanVossen's 2.55 ERA is ninth best in the league.
VanVossen's 50 strikeouts rank second in the Big Ten ... Anthony Misiewicz leads the MSU bullpen with 40 Ks, which is tied for sixth in the league.
After going 12-3 in one-run games last season, MSU has been good again in close games in 2014, going 7-1 in one-run affairs.
The Spartans have thrown out 25 runners stealing bases this season, which is tops in the conference.
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.
MSU is 8-1 when playing error-free baseball and is 17-0 when carrying a lead into the ninth inning.
Indiana is ranked in three of the four national polls, including 26th in the NCBWA poll, 18th in Collegiate Baseball poll and 21st in Baseball America ... The Hoosiers are 22-11 overall, including 10-1 in their last 11 games ... IU leads the Big Ten with an 8-1 mark in conference play ... With the help of a Big Ten best 24 home runs, Indiana leads the conference in slugging percentage at .411 ... As a team, IU is hitting .283, which is third highest in the league ... Junior infielder Sam Travis leads the conference in both RBIs with 35 and hits with 50 ... Junior Kyle Schwarber is the conference leader in runs scored (34), total bases (80) and home runs (six) ... The Hoosier pitching staff has the Big Ten's best ERA at 2.71 and its opponent batting average of .257 is third best ... Game one starting pitcher Joey DeNato leads the league with a 7-1 record and is tops on the team with 41 strikeouts ... Reliever Scott Effross has a 1.57 ERA and five saves in 20 appearances.
Bullpen Slamming the Door
Quality Starts = Wins
He struck out a career-best 10 batters in each of his last two starts, allowing just one earned run over 16.0 combined innings.
Alleman Adjusts Well to Starter Role
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.
Notes on the Staff
Vieaux Solidifies the Rotation
Vieaux, a walk-on, has an ERA of just 1.62 - the lowest of any starting pitcher in the conference and second lowest of any pitcher. His .206 opponent batting average ranks third in the Big Ten.
Pickens Extends On-Base Streak
Pickens has had a hit in 21 of the last 22 games. His current .443 on-base percentage leads the team and ranks seventh in the Big Ten. His .339 batting average ranks second on the team and is 11th in the league.
Salter Among the Best in the Conference
Salter's 14 doubles lead the conference.
Putting Up Zeroes
Spartans Impressive at Minnesota
The 20-run margin of victory in the two games was MSU's largest in consecutive Big Ten games since topping Illinois 10-2 and 16-1 on April 23-24, 2010.
Kinley Back Healthy
Led by Kinley's six saves, the Spartan bullpen has combined for eight saves this season, which is tied for fourth most in the conference. MSU had a total of 12 in 2013.
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.
Young Arms in the `Pen
Lowery has made a team-high 16 appearances and earned his first collegiate win by pitching a scoreless final 1.1 innings against No. 1 Oregon State. He has two saves and is 1-0 with a 1.12 ERA. Currently, Lowery has a 1.50 ERA in 18.0 innings.
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 1-1 and has made three starts.
Mockbee earned his first win vs. Oakland on April 2 and is 1-0 in six appearances.
Spartans Lead the Big Ten in Wins Over The Last Four Years
130 Years of Spartan Baseball
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