Spartans Take On Central Michigan in Clash at Comerica
May 14, 2012
"Last year's `Clash at Comerica' was a great experience for our players and everyone involved," said Michigan State head coach Jake Boss. "We're excited to have another opportunity to play against a quality opponent in one of the best baseball parks in the country. I want to thank Central Michigan Athletics Director Dave Heeke and head coach Steve Jaksa for again taking the lead on this event and making it a reality for the second straight year. I also want to thank the Detroit Tigers, a first-class organization that made us feel welcome and did an excellent job hosting the game. I know the whole Spartan baseball program is looking forward to playing at Comerica Park."
The Spartans enter the midweek contest at 33-17 after claiming the series over Iowa last weekend in East Lansing. With one weekend left to play in the regular season, the Spartans are tied for fourth place in the Big Ten standings with Nebraska at 12-9. Purdue has clinched at least a share of the title with a 16-5 league record, while Indiana and Penn State are tied for second at 13-8. The top-six teams will advance to the Big Ten Tournament May 23-26 in Columbus, Ohio, with the No. 1 and No. 2 teams receiving byes.
Michigan State has won four straight over Central Michigan and has already secured the season series for the third consecutive year with two victories earlier this season. Back on March 28 at McLane Baseball Stadium, Jared Hook hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning to give MSU the 6-5 walk-off win. In the last meeting on April 18 in Mount Pleasant, the Spartans collected 14 hits in downing the Chippewas, 11-1.
Central Michigan (28-25) enters Tuesday's game on a 10-game winning streak following a sweep over Ball State at home last weekend. The Chippewas are 15-9 in Mid-American Conference play, just one game back of MAC West leader Toledo with one league series left to play. CMU has won 12 of its last 15 games since playing Michigan State on April 18.
Freshman right-hander Mick VanVossen will get the call on the mound for the Spartans. VanVossen, who has started five midweek games, is 3-0 on the season with a 4.06 ERA. MSU is 5-0 in games he has started. VanVossen allowed five runs, two earned, on four hits in 4 1/3 innings against the Chippewas in his first collegiate start on March 28. The Ada, Mich., native pitched two scoreless innings in the 2011 Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association East-West All-Star Game at Comerica Park, starting on the West team.
Rick Dodridge is slated to start for Central Michigan, a junior lefty who owns a 2-5 record and 5.75 ERA. Dodridge was in the MAC rotation for the first half of the conference season.
In addition to last year's players who participated in the "Clash at Comerica", several Spartan freshmen have also seen action at Comerica Park, including Ryan Krill, Blaise Salter and Chase Toth, who played in the 2011 MHSBCA All-Star Game along with VanVossen.
"It's always nice to play at a great stadium like Comerica Park," said Salter, who was named the 2011 East Team MVP after going 3-for-4. "Knowing all of the great players that have played there makes it special."
MSU returns to Big Ten action Thursday-Saturday to host Penn State at McLane Baseball Stadium.
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