Spartans Make First-Ever Trip To Maryland This Weekend To Square Off With Terrapins
 
 
 
 
April 20, 2017

MICHIGAN STATE (20-13, 5-4 B1G) at MARYLAND (25-11, 9-3 B1G)
Game 1 Friday, April 21 - 6:30 p.m. ET
Location Bob "Turtle" Smith Stadium | College Park, Md.
Game Notes Michigan State | Maryland
Probable Pitching Matchup MSU: LHP #32 Alex Troop (SO) (5-2, 1.50 ERA) vs.
UMD: RHP #13 Brian Shaffer (JR) (4-2, 1.83 ERA)
Coverage Live StatsWatch Live - BTN Plus | Listen Live - Spartan Sports Network









Game 2 Sunday, April 23 - 10 a.m. ET DH G1
Probable Pitching Matchup MSU: RHP #34 Andrew Gonzalez (JR) (3-2, 4.64 ERA) ) vs.
UMD: LHP #21 Tyler Blohm (FR) (6-3, 2.76 ERA)
Coverage Live StatsWatch Live - BTN Plus | Listen Live - Spartan Sports Network
Game 3 Sunday, April 23 - 2 p.m. ET DH G2
Probable Pitching Matchup MSU: LHP #14 Keegan Baar (JR) (0-0, 3.60 ERA vs.
UMD: RHP #16 Taylor Bloom (JR) (4-2, 4.57 ERA) 
Coverage Live StatsWatch Live - BTN Plus | Listen Live - Spartan Sports Network
The Last Meeting
Michigan State4
Maryland3
May 27, 2016
Omaha, Nebraska
Spartans Defeat Maryland, 4-3, to Advance in B1G Tournament
The Michigan State baseball team defeated Maryland, 4-3, on Friday morning in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament to advance to Saturday’s semifinal. Jordan Zimmerman went 2-for-5 with two RBIs, highlighted by a game-tying home run in the sixth that shifted the momentum in the Spartans’ favor. MSU gets two chances to pick up one more win in the tournament tomorrow and advance to Sunday’s championship game.








***Note: Saturday's game was postponed due to rain. Teams playing a doubleheader on Sunday starting at 10 a.m.***

Leading Off

Michigan State baseball will play at Maryland for the first time in school history when the Spartans square off with the Terrapins in a three-game Big Ten Conference series this weekend at UMD's Bob "Turtle" Smith Stadium. The series opens Friday, April 21 at 6:30 p.m., followed by a doubleheader on Sunday, April 23, after Saturday's action was rained out (Updated Sat morning), the first game of the doubleheader will start at 10 a.m., with the second slated for approximately 2 p.m.

• Fans can follow this weekend's game through "Live Stats," "Listen Live" and "Watch Live" links found at MSUSpartans.com. The tangle between the Terrapins and Spartans will be video streamed on BTN2Go, and will also be carried on the Spartan Sports Network live audio stream. The broadcast will be available exclusively at SpartanSportsNetwork.com and on the network's 24/7 app for mobile devices (available on iTunes and Google Play). Broadcast veteran Scott Moore calls the action alongside Jake Boss Sr. in select games.

• Michigan State takes a 20-13 overall and 5-4 B1G ledger into the weekend. MSU lost to in-state rival Michigan, 12-4, on Tuesday in a non-conference midweek contest. In the Spartans' last league action, they won two of three from Ohio State in last weekend's series. MSU posted its first shutout of the season with a 2-0 win in Friday's opener. On Saturday, the Spartans opened a 4-0 lead in the first and held on to win 6-5, before dropping Sunday's finale, 13-8.

• The Terrapins are 25-11 overall and 9-3 in Big Ten play. Maryland blanked William & Mary, 6-0, on Wednesday at Williamsburg, Va., for UMD's fourth-straight win. In their last Big Ten series, the Terps swept Penn State, winning the opener, 2-1, then winning game two, 8-3, before completing the sweep with a 15-2 rout on Sunday.

Schager From Terrapin Player To Spartan Administrator
Maryland's career home runs record holder and slugging percentage record holder is Paul Schager, who is currently the Michigan State Executive Associate Athletic Director for External Relations. Schager was a three-year letterwinner at Maryland from 1984-87, earning his bachelor's degree in marketing in 1987. Schager belted 43 home runs in his UMD career, which is still the Terrapins' career mark. Schager also still holds Maryland's career slugging percentage record of .713. Additionally, he has four other marks in the career records, ranking third in extra-base hits (81), tied for fourth in triples (seven), fifth in batting average (.361) and sixth in total bases (346). Schager also has two spots on the single-season home runs list, ranking fourth with 18 in 1986 and tied for 10th with 14 in 1985, along with two spots on the single-season slugging percentage list with the No. 2 mark at .852 in 1986 and No. 3 spot with .840 in 1985.

Series History
Michigan State and Maryland have a short history, as Maryland joined the Big Ten in the 2014-15 school year. Last season marked the first-ever regular-season meeting between the Spartans and Terrapins after first meeting in the 2015 Big Ten Tournament. MSU is 2-3 against UMD, winning two of the last three match-ups. Maryland won the first-ever meeting in the 2015 Big Ten Tournament and the first meeting in East Lansing a year ago, before the Spartans won the middle game of the three-game series, but then the Terps won the series with a win in the third game. The Spartans avenged that series loss with a 4-3 win in the Big Ten Tournament in Omaha.

Michigan State vs. Maryland
Overall: 2-3 / Home: 1-2 / Away: 0-0 / Neutral: 1-1 / Series Streak: MSU W1
First Met: May 20, 2015 - Minneapolis, Minn. (BTT) - UMD W, 2-1
Last Met: May 27, 2016 - Omaha, Neb. (BTT) - MSU W, 4-3

Home Staters
Michigan State has 24 players on its 2017 roster from the state of Michigan, while Maryland has 14 players who are natives of the Old Line State. Neither team has a native of the other school's home state on its roster.

Spartans In The Stats Rankings
The Spartans enter the weekend leading the Big Ten in four different statistical categories, as well as ranking in the Top 25 of the NCAA in five categories. MSU hit eight home runs against Illinois on March 26, which is the most in the NCAA so far this season, recently tied by Morehead State on April 15. The Spartans rank third in the B1G and 31st in the NCAA in home runs per game with 1.09, while ranking third in the league and 44th in the nation with 36 home runs. Indiana leads the B1G with 40 HR, while Illinois leads the league with 1.12 per game.

Michigan State is second in the B1G and ranks 35th in the NCAA in scoring at 7.1 runs per game. With 2.42 doubles per game, the Spartans are tops in the conference and sixth in the country, ranking first in the league and 21st in the nation with 80 total doubles.

Defensively Speaking
Defensively, the Spartans are second in the conference and 16th in the country in double plays per game at 1.03, boosted by turning six double plays against Abilene Christian in the first game of the doubleheader on Feb. 18. The six double plays are tied for the most in the country this season, and was the earliest in the season by date and games, as it was the second game of MSU's season. The six twin killings is tied with Columbia turning two six times against Southern Miss on March 14.

Pitching Stat Rankings
The Spartan pitching staff is tops in the B1G and ranks 30th in the NCAA in strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.78. MSU's pitchers combined to fire 19 strikeouts in the Spartans' 3-1 win over Campbell on March 17, which are the most in a game by MSU pitchers since at least 2006, according to available records. The 19 strikeouts are tied for the sixth-most in a game in the NCAA this season. One of MSU's opponents earlier this season, Fresno State, has the most in the country with 29 vs. UC Riverside on Feb. 24.

Swiping Spartans
MSU currently is third in the Big Ten and 22nd in the NCAA in stolen bases per game with 1.70, and the Spartans are fourth in the conference and 29th in the country with 56 total stolen bases.

Fast Outfielders
Individually, three of MSU's outfielders rank in the top 20 of the conference in stolen bases. Junior outfielder Brandon Hughes is sixth in the NCAA in stolen bases per game with 0.62 and 14th in the NCAA in total stolen bases with 18, leading the B1G in stolen bases per game and third in total stolen bases. Sophomore outfielder Dan Chmielewski is tied for 17th with eight swipes, while freshman outfielder Danny Gleaves is tied for 20th in the B1G with seven stolen bases.

Head Coach Jake Boss Jr., Hits 300 Career Wins, Closing In On Another 300
MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr., won his 300th career game as a collegiate head coach with the 13-4 victory for MSU over Richmond on March 18. Boss is in his ninth season as head coach of the Spartans and he now has an overall record of 309-227 (.576) in his 10 overall years as a collegiate head coach. He has a 284-193 (.595) record at the helm of the MSU program, meaning that if the Spartans equal last year's win total of 36 wins, Boss will reach the 300-win plateau mark as the Spartan head coach.

One Of 32 With 2,300
Michigan State picked up its 2,300th all-time win in the season-opener on Feb. 17, becoming just the fifth team in the Big Ten Conference and the 32nd team in the country with 2,300 wins.

Racking Up The Runs
MSU is second in the B1G and ranks 35th in the NCAA with 7.1 runs scored per game, plating 235 runs through 33 games, ranking second in the conference and 67th in the country in total runs scored.

Hanging 22
MSU's 22 runs against UNC Greensboro is ninth-most in game in the NCAA this season. The Citadel has the most with 34 runs against Winthrop on March 14. Michigan State's 22 runs were the most scored in a game by a Big Ten team this season until Rutgers' 28 against Lafayette on April 11.

Lighting Up The Scoreboard With Double Digits
The Spartans have scored double-digits in 10 of the 33 games, including 10 against Fresno State on April 8, as well as 11 against Central Michigan on March 21. MSU also hung 10+ runs in all three games at Illinois, March 24-26, plating a total of 41 runs in the three games, sweeping the three games by a combined score of 41-11, an average of nearly 14-4. The Spartans' scoring in double-digits in all three games at Illinois was part of a stretch of scoring 10+ runs in four-straight games and five of six games as part of 10 of the 28 games this season, having been limited to single digit runs in five-straight games before plating 10 against Fresno State on April 8.

MSU opened the season by scoring 19 and 14 runs in two of the four games at Abilene Christian on Feb. 18 and 19, respectively, and just missing double-digits in the other two games, hanging nine on the board in the first two games of the series, finishing with 51 runs in the four games (12.8 rpg). Michigan State racked up 28 runs in the three-game series at UNC-Greensboro, averaging 9.3 runs per game, boosted by the 22 runs in the 22-16 win over UNCG on Feb. 25. The Spartans also plated 10 against Presbyterian on March 4, finishing with a total of 19 runs in the three games of the First Pitch Invitational.

The Scoop On Troop
MSU sophomore left-hander Alex Troop leads the Big Ten and ranks 26th in the NCAA in ERA at 1.50, allowing just nine earned runs in 54.0 IP in nine starts. Troop also has a 3.5 strikeout-to-walk ratio with 53 strikeouts and 15 walks. With nine starts, Troop is also tied for second in the league and tied for 31st in the NCAA.

Troop Making Mark In Record Books
With his ERA currently at 1.50, sophomore left-hander Alex Troop is making is mark in the MSU single-season record books, currently the sixth-best mark in school history and the lowest ERA by a Spartan pitcher since Anthony Misiewicz at 1.60 in 2013.

Complete Troop
MSU sophomore lefty Alex Troop pitched a complete game on March 10 at No. 10 South Carolina for his first career complete game. Troop was the first pitcher in the Big Ten with a complete game this season, and is now one of eight pitchers in the Big Ten with a complete game. Gavin Wallace of Fairfield leads the nation with five CGs.

Two-Way Troop-er
Sophomore Alex Troop is hitting .308 (20-for-65). Troop also has three HRs, six doubles and nine RBI, along with a .569 slugging percentage and a .430 on base percentage, which would rank sixth and tied for eighth, respectively, in the B1G if Troop had enough at bats to reach the minimum requirement.

Now Pitching For The Spartans...
Michigan State has utilized 14 different pitchers, with 11 of them with five or more appearances, including seven with 10 or more, led by senior left-handed reliever Joe Mockbee with 19 appearances, sharing the lead for the most in the B1G and tied for 63rd in the nation. Fellow senior reliever, righty Walter Borkovich and junior right-handed reliever Jake Lowery have 17 appearances each, good for third-most in the B1G. Sophomore righty Nathan Witt has 14 appearances, sophomore right-hander closer Riley McCauley has appeared in 13 games, freshman lefty Mitchell Tyranski has 11 appearances and junior righty starter/reliever Ethan Landon has 10.

Chalking Up The K's
MSU's pitchers combined to fire 19 strikeouts in the Spartans' 3-1 win over Campbell on March 17, which are the most in a game by MSU pitchers since at least 2006, according to available records. Sophomore starting pitcher Alex Troop fired a career-high 10 strikeouts in five innings, while junior reliever Jake Lowery also struck out a career high with eight Ks in four innings of relief, including striking out the side in the eighth and getting all three outs via strikeouts in the seventh. Sophomore closer Riley McCauley got the final out on a strikeout in the bottom of the ninth after senior reliever Joe Mockbee got the first two key outs in lefty-lefty match-ups.

Double Digit Strikeouts
Michigan State's pitchers have combined to post double-digit strikeouts in 10 games this season, most recently with 14 against Ohio State on Saturday, April 15, MSU's second-highest of the season. The Spartans also posted 12 in Friday's win over Ohio State, marking the third time this season that the Spartan hurlers have chalked up double-digit strikeouts in back-to-back games, but first in B1G action, doing so at UNC Greensboro on Feb. 24 (10 Ks) and Feb. 25 (11 Ks) along with 10 strikeouts against both Furman on March 3 and Presbyterian on March 4.

Pickin' `Em Off
Michigan State pitchers already have seven pickoffs this season, matching last year's season total. Senior reliever Walter Borkovich leads the staff with three pickoffs, including two against Ohio State on April 15. Junior reliever Jake Lowery has two pickoffs, while sophomore starter Alex Troop and junior starter Ethan Landon have one each.

You Get A Hit And You Get A Hit, Hits For Everybody
MSU has had all nine starters in the batting order get at least one hit in five games: at Abilene Christian on Feb. 18 (gm 2), at Abilene Christian on Feb. 19, at UNC-Greensboro on Feb. 25, vs. Central Michigan on March 21 and vs. Fresno State (G1) on April 8. The Spartans have had eight of the nine hitters get a hit in three other games: at South Carolina on March 8, at Richmond on March 18 and vs. Fresno State (G2) on April 8.

Multiple Spartans Have Multiple HR Games
Four Michigan State players have multiple home run games, led by junior outfielder Brandon Hughes with three against Illinois on March 26, part of the Spartans' NCAA-leading eight home runs in that game. Sophomore third baseman Marty Bechina also had two in that game, one of his two multi-homer games, also belting two against Abilene Christian on Feb. 18. Junior first baseman Zack McGuire belted two round-trippers against Illinois on March 24. Senior second baseman Dan Durkin joined the club with two home runs on April 16 against Ohio State.

Lumber-Toting Spartans
MSU has lugged the lumber to the plate, hitting .289 this season, ranking third in the B1G and 61st in the NCAA.

Four Spartans Of .300
Individually, four Spartans are hitting .300 or better, led by junior centerfielder Brandon Hughes at .336, followed by freshmen outfielders Danny Gleaves at .319 and Bryce Kelley at .310. Sophomore first baseman/designated hitter/pitcher Alex Troop is hitting .308.

Big Bat Bechina
Sophomore third baseman Marty Bechina is now batting .293 (36-for-123) on the season. He has tallied 22 RBI and six home runs. The six homers is tied for 10th in the Big Ten. Bechina's six home runs has already exceeded last year's total of two round-trippers. Bechina also is seventh in the B1G in on base percentage, now at .431.

Three With Six Four-Baggers
Michigan State has three players leading the team with six home runs each in senior second baseman Dan Durkin, junior first baseman Zack McGuire and sophomore third baseman Marty Bechina. Durkin has matched his career-high of six HRs from last season, while McGuire and Bechina have both surpassed their career-bests. McGuire's previous career best was two from last season, and he has doubled his career total coming into this season as he had just one round-tripper in his freshman season. Bechina has tripled his season output of two homers last season as a freshman.

McCauley-ing It Over
Sophomore reliever Riley McCauley ranks third in the B1G and 33rd in the NCAA with seven saves. McCauley picked up his first career save on Feb. 18 in MSU's 9-7 win at Abilene Christian. McCauley also collected a pair of saves in as many outings at UNC-Greensboro, in the 5-4 win on Feb. 24 and the 22-16 victory on Feb. 25.

With his seven saves, McCauley has joined the MSU single season saves list, now one of six Spartans at the No. 8 mark with seven saves, most recently by Dakota Mekkes last season.

Captain Dan
Team captain, senior second baseman Dan Durkin has a .290 average (37-for-128). Durkin also leads the team with 29 RBI, ranking tied for ninth in the B1G. The Spartan captain is tied for the team lead and tied for fourth in the B1G with 11 doubles, along with sharing the team lead with six home runs and is also second on the team with 38 hits, while also swiping three stolen bases.

Scouting Maryland
The Terrapins are 25-11 overall and 9-3 in Big Ten play. Maryland blanked William & Mary, 6-0, on Wednesday at Williamsburg, Va., for Maryland's fourth-straight win. In their last Big Ten series, the Terps swept Penn State, winning the opener, 2-1, then winning game two, 8-3, before completing the sweep with a 15-2 rout on Sunday.

Sophomore outfielder Marty Costes leads Maryland with a .359 average (52-for-145) with 31 RBI and eight HR, posting a .607 slugging percentage and a .444 on-base percentage. Costes is third in the B1G in batting, fifth in home runs, tied for seventh in RBI, fourth in slugging percentage and tied for fifth in on-base percentage.

On the mound, Friday's probable starter, junior right-hander Brian Shaffer is second in the B1G with a 1.83 ERA and has a 4-2 record, leading the league with both 67 strikeouts and 64.0 IP, while ranking third in opposing batting average at .194. Saturday's probable starter is freshman lefty Tyler Blohm, who shares the B1G lead with six wins, logging a 6-3 ledger with a 2.76 ERA, ranking seventh in the conference. Blohm is also fourth in the league with a .200 opposing batting average, along with ninth with 44 Ks in 45.2 IP. Sunday's probable starter is junior right-hander Taylor Bloom, who has a 4-2 mark with a 4.57 ERA, posting 28 strikeouts in 45.1 IP

Maryland head coach is John Szefc, who is in his fifth season guiding the Terrapins. Szefc has an overall record of 167-110.

Up Next
Michigan State returns home to host Toledo on Wednesday, April 26 at 3:05 p.m. at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field. The Spartans then return to the road and Big Ten play by playing at Northwestern Friday-Sunday, April 28-30.

9-1 For Second-Straight Season Under Boss
Michigan State opened the season 9-1 for the second-straight year and tied for the second-best start to a season through 10 games. In addition to this season and last year, MSU was also 9-1 through 10 games in 1971, while the best mark in school history was the 1946 squad that went undefeated through its first 10 games.

Milestone Victories
Michigan State's 2,300th win came on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, becoming just the fifth team in the Big Ten Conference and the 32nd team in the country with 2,300 wins. Here's a closer look of MSU's milestone wins:

1st Win May 19, 1884
100th Win May 26, 1905
500th Win April 25, 1945
1,000th Win May 13, 1972
1,500th Win April 27, 1991
2,000th Win April 6, 2010
2,300th Win Feb. 17, 2017

Hello Home
Michigan State opened the season with its first 16 games away from home, including 10 true road games to go with six neutral games, before the Spartans' home opener on March 21.

Hughes Collects Pair of National Honors
Michigan State baseball's Brandon Hughes was recognized on March 27 with a pair of national awards for his performance in the previous week in MSU's four wins, which including smacking three home runs in a game.

Hughes was named one of Collegiate Baseball's National Players Of The Week as well as a USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Gold Standard Performance of the Week.

Hughes, a junior outfielder from Sterling Heights, Michigan (Stevenson High School) entered last weekend without any home runs and just 12 RBI for the season, then proceeded to smash three home runs in the March 26 game alone as part of his four home runs in two games.

The Spartan outfielder belted three home runs in consecutive at bats in the first five innings of MSU's 17-6 win at Illinois on March 26, hitting two of them left-handed and one right-handed. He finished the weekend with 12 RBI, including seven on Sunday. After a fly out to lead off the game, Hughes smashed a three-run home run to right center in the second inning batting left handed. Again batting left handed in the fourth, Hughes hit a two-run round-tripper to right. In the fifth, Hughes batted right handed and smashed a two-run shot to left field that bounced once and then into the street behind Illinois Field. Hughes walked on four pitches in the seventh and grounded out in the ninth. He finished the game 3-for-5 with seven RBI and three runs scored.

In the doubleheader on March 24, Hughes was a combined 4-for-11, going 1-for-5 with two RBI, one run scored and one walk in the opener and then going 3-for-6 with three RBI and one run scored, belting his first home run of the season.

Hughes started the week going 2-for-4 with a double and sac bunt with three runs scored in MSU's 11-2 win over Central Michigan on March 21 in MSU's home opener. For the week, Hughes hit .450 (9-for-20) with 12 RBI, four HR, two doubles, two walks and one sac bunt, as well as making 16 putouts in the outfield.

Kelley Tabbed B1G Baseball Freshman of the Week
Michigan State baseball's Bryce Kelley was named the Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Week for his performance last week in MSU's four wins.

Kelley, a freshman outfielder from Rockford, Michigan (Rockford High School) had a smashing Big Ten Conference debut, hitting .400 (4-for-10) in MSU's three games at Illinois over the weekend to open B1G action. For the week, Kelley hit .462 (6-for-13) for the week.

This is MSU's second B1G award this season as senior second baseman Dan Durkin was the B1G Player of the Week on Feb. 20. Kelley is MSU's first Freshman of the Week accolade recipient since third baseman Marty Bechina earned the honor last season on Feb. 22, 2016.

In the second game of the doubleheader at Illinois on March 24, Kelley was 3-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored with a two-run double, adding a stolen base in the Spartans' 12-1 win at Illinois.

He started the week 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI in MSU's 11-2 win over Central Michigan on March 21.

Kelley and the Spartans won all four games last week, scoring double-digits in all four, out-scoring the opposition 53-13, an average of 13-4.

Durkin Earns Big Ten Conference Player of the Week Plaudits
Michigan State baseball's Dan Durkin was named the Big Ten Conference Baseball Player of the Week, announced by the conference office on Monday, Feb. 20.

A senior second baseman from Tinley Park, Illinois, Durkin helped the Spartans to a 4-0 mark with a four-game series sweep at Abilene Christian.

The B1G Player of the Week is Durkin's first weekly conference honor of his career. He is the first Spartan to earn B1G Player of the Week accolades since Zack McGuire earned the weekly plaudits last season on May 2, 2016. It also marks the second year in a row that MSU has earned a league honor in the opening weekend, as Marty Bechina earned Freshman of the Week honors last season in the first weekend.

Durkin had a smashing debut as the Spartans' captain, going 9-for-18, hitting .500, with 11 RBI with four extra-base hits, and scoring six runs in the four-game series. With the 11 RBI and six runs scored, Durkin accounted for 33.3 percent of MSU's scoring as Michigan State plated 51 runs with 63 hits on the weekend, including 22 extra-base hits.

He opened by going 3-for-6 in season-opener, driving in two on a single in the sixth and later scored as part of MSU's six-run inning to break open a 1-1 game and make it a 6-1 lead. In the eighth, laced a double and later came around to score insurance run.

Durkin hit 2-for-3 with two RBI in the first game of the doubleheader, driving in both runs on a single in the fourth for MSU's first two of three runs in the frame as they turned a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 lead, a lead they never relinquished. In the nightcap, he went 3-for-5 with five RBI and two runs scored. Durkin drove in MSU's first run of the night with a double and scored the second run, both in the first inning. In the second inning, Durkin blasted a three-run home run to right as MSU broke open a 4-1 lead with five runs. In the fifth, he had a sac fly to center for an RBI, his fifth of the day.

Sunday's series finale saw Durkin go 1-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. He started his day by drawing a walk in the first inning, later coming around to score as part of MSU's four-run first inning. In the fifth, he drew another walk and scored again, before belting a two-run double in the ninth as the Spartans blew the game open with a six runs, turning an 8-5 close game into a 14-5 rout.

Standout Debuts In Green & White
Gleaves wasn't the only Spartan newcomer to have a standout debut, as freshman outfielder Bryce Kelley blasted an RBI triple in his first collegiate at bat. On the mound, freshman right-handed reliever Sam Benschoter threw two scoreless innings of work, chalking up his first two strikeouts as a collegiate pitcher. Redshirt-sophomore Nathan Witt made his debut on the mound after missing the first two seasons due to injury, and made two appearances on the weekend with an inning and a third worth of work without allowing any hits. Freshman righty Mike Mokma threw one complete inning without a hit and right-handed starter Mason Erla was MSU's starter on Feb. 19, spraying eight hits in four innings of work.

Preseason B1G
MSU was tabbed fifth in the 2017 Big Ten Preseason Poll released by the conference office on Wednesday, Feb. 15. The league's coaches voted on the top six teams and also selected three student-athletes from their own squads to a Preseason Honors list. MSU's Preseason Honorees included senior catcher Matt Byars, junior outfielder Brandon Hughes and sophomore pitcher/first baseman/outfielder Alex Troop.

Byars was selected in the 24th round and No. 723 overall by the Minnesota Twins in the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft, but opted to return to Michigan State for his senior season. Behind the plate defensively, Byars threw out 12 potential base stealers and picked off two more. At the plate offensively, Byars hit .284 with 26 RBI with 16 doubles, which tied for 11th in the league, adding two triples and four home runs, and was a perfect 3-for-3 swiping bases. He appeared in 55 of the 56 games last season.

Hughes is one of two returning All-Big Ten honorees, as the center fielder earned third team accolades last season. He is one of three returning Spartans to hit over .300 as he hit .303 with 31 RBI, 11 doubles and two round-trippers. Hughes also led the team and was 11th in the Big Ten with 17 stolen bases.

Troop had a stellar first 12 games of the season a year ago before suffering a season-ending injury. At the plate he hit .372 with 13 RBI (1.1 pg), six doubles and one home run, to go with two stolen bases. Troop is also a weapon on the mound for the Spartans. Last season the southpaw posted a 3-0 mark with a 1.64 ERA with 14 strikeouts in just four appearances with 11.0 IP (11.5 strikeouts per nine innings) before his injury.

Returning All-Big Ten Honorees
Infielder Dan Durkin played in all 56 games last season as a junior and hit .324 with 32 RBIs and a .402 on-base percentage to earn First Team All-Big Ten honors. Brandon Hughes was a member of the Third Team, hitting .303 with 31 RBI, 11 doubles and two round-trippers. Hughes also led the team and was 11th in the Big Ten with 17 stolen bases. Marty Bechina started in all but one game during his first season in the Green and White and was selected to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team.

Spartan Roster Breakdown
Michigan State's roster consists of seven seniors, 10 juniors, seven sophomores and 11 freshmen. The senior class includes Preseason B1G Honoree catcher Matt Byars, who was drafted in the MLB Draft last season (Minnesota, 24th round), but opted to return to Michigan State, as well as infielder Dan Durkin, who was named team captain. Senior relief pitchers Joe Mockbee and Walter Borkovich will anchor the Spartans' bullpen.

Highlighting the juniors is starting pitchers Ethan Landon and Andrew Gonzalez, who will make up two-thirds of MSU's weekend rotation on the mound. Another junior standout is outfielder Brandon Hughes, who is a Preseason B1G Honoree.

The sophomore group includes Preseason B1G Honoree P/1B/OF Alex Troop, who played in only 12 games last season before a season-ending injury. It also includes Marty Bechina, who split time between outfield and infield last season, but will be the Spartans' starter at third base, and was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team last season.

Road Ready
Michigan State opened the season with its first 17 games away from home, including 11 true road games to go with six neutral games.

Returning Numbers
MSU returns six starters and three starting pitchers from last season's squad that advanced to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament, posting a 36-20 overall record and was 13-11 in Big Ten action.

Immediate Impact In Big Ten
In Ethan Landon's first season at MSU, the right-hander picked up six wins in Big Ten play as a redshirt sophomore, which is the most by any pitcher in school history.

Notes From 2016
Michigan State wrapped up the 2016 season with a 36-20 overall record and 13-11 mark in Big Ten play to finish tied for sixth before advancing to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament. The 36 wins tied the fourth most victories in school history with the 1971, 1992 and 2011 clubs.

• MSU got off to a hot start and its 14-1 record was the best start in school history through 15 games.

• Michigan State pitchers combined for a school record 466 strikeouts - 57 more than the 2015 club, which previously held the record.

• All season long, the Spartans' ERA ranked among the top five in the country and finished at a 2.75 mark, that is the fifth lowest ever by an MSU pitching staff.