Spartans Close Out Regular Season vs. Maryland
MSU hosts Maryland in a three-game set.
|Michigan State (33-16, 12-9 B1G) vs. Maryland (26-24, 11-10 B1G)|
|Game 1||Thursday, May 19 - 3:05 p.m. ET|
|Location||McLane Baseball Stadium | East Lansing, Mich.|
|Game Notes||Michigan State|
|Probable Pitching Matchup||MSU: RHP Ethan Landon (7-2, 2.47 ERA) vs. MD: RHP Mike Shawaryn (4-4, 3.33 ERA)|
|Coverage||Live Stats | Listen - Spartan Sports Network | Watch: BTN|
|Game 2||Friday, April 20 - 3:05 p.m. ET|
|Probable Pitching Matchup||MSU: LHP Joe Mockbee (2-1, 3.00 ERA) vs. MD: RHP Taylor Bloom (6-4, 2.45 ERA)|
|Coverage||Live Stats | Listen - Spartan Sports Network|
|Game 3||Saturday, May 21 - 1:05 p.m. ET|
|Probable Pitching Matchup||MSU: TBD vs. MD: RHP Brian Shaffer (6-3, 2.70 ERA)|
|Coverage||Live Stats | Listen - Spartan Sports Network|
Season for the Record Books
With 33 wins this season, MSU is tied for the 10th most wins in school history with the 2013 and 2004 teams. Two more wins would put the 2016 club in the top five in school history and in a tie for fourth with the 2011, 1992 and 1971 teams.
The most wins under current head coach Jake Boss Jr. was in 2012 when the team went 37-23 and qualified for the NCAA Regional. Only 12 teams in MSU history have recorded 33 or more wins, six of which are teams coached by Boss.
Only six teams in school history have recorded 35-plus wins in a single season, with the record being set in 1988 when the team finished 41-20.
With 408 strikeouts this season, the Spartan pitching staff is one shy of tying the single season school record of 409 set last year by the 2015 club. MSU has posted 10 or more strikeouts in 15 games this season to average 8.3 per game and rank third in the Big Ten.
Dakota Mekkes leads the team and is fourth in the Big Ten with 83 strikeouts. The righty has 83 Ks in just 47.1 innings of work, good for a rate of 15.8 strikeouts per nine innings. With three more Ks, he will move into the top 10 on MSU's single-season strikeout list.
Cam Vieaux is tied for sixth in the Big Ten with 75 strikeouts, four more than he had all of last season.
MSU has sent down 124 batters looking to rank third in the Big Ten. Vieaux paces the team with 22 and is ninth in the conference, while Mekkes and Ethan Landon have 21 and 19 backwards Ks, respectively.
Sitting in sixth place in the Big Ten standings entering the weekend, MSU needs one win over Maryland to secure a spot in the eight-team field next week in Omaha.
Series Record: Maryland leads, 1-0
Last Meeting: Maryland 2, MSU 1, May 20, 2015 -- Minneapolis, Minn. (Big Ten Tournament)
The Terrapins enter East Lansing with a 26-24 overall record and 11-10 mark in Big Ten play that has Maryland seventh in the conference and one game back of the Spartans in the standings. Maryland lost two of three to Rutgers last weekend at home, but picked up a win on Sunday to stop a four game skid.
This weekend represents the first regular season meeting between Michigan State and Maryland in program history. The Spartans took on the Terrapins for the first time ever last season in the Big Ten Tournament.
Kevin Biondic leads the team with a .296 average to go along with 20 RBIs. Four Terps have eight home runs this season, including Marty Costes who has a team-leading 34 RBIs. Pitchers Tyler Bloom and Brian Shaffer each have six wins, with Bloom's 2.45 ERA ranking fourth in the Big Ten and Shaffer's 2.70 ERA sitting eighth.
Making Them Earn It
MSU enters the weekend boasting a 2.64 ERA that is the third best in the country. Staff ace Cam Vieaux leads the way 2.31 ERA that ranks second in the Big Ten. Ethan Landon is fifth in the Big Ten with a 2.47 ERA while the bullpen as a group owns a 2.52 ERA.
The Spartan pitching staff has 27 games this season in which they've held opponents to two or fewer earned runs. Because of the shutdown staff, Michigan State is 33-6 this season when scoring more than two runs in a game.
Zimmerman Does it All
Junior Jordan Zimmerman leads the team and ranks in the top five in the Big Ten of several offensive categories. The transfer from Mesa, Arizona, is atop the league with a .394 average while ranking second in slugging percentage (.612) and third in on-base percentage (.482). Zimmerman's 45 runs scored are sixth most in the Big Ten and his 115 total bases are tied for second.
Zimmerman has a hit in 44 of 49 games for the Spartans this season, including a current 10-game hitting streak. He has 23 multiple hit games to go along with nine multiple RBI games.
He began the year at second base for 14 games before moving to first base where he's started ever since.
Earlier this season, Zimmerman put together a 21-game hitting streak, which tied the third longest in school history. During that span, he hit .494 with four homers, 21 runs and 16 RBIs.
If MSU holds a lead late in games, it's meant good things for the club, as the Spartans are 28-0 when leading after six innings. Michigan State has allowed only 27 runs all season in the eighth and ninth innings and MSU is outscoring its opponents 141-65 after the fifth inning.
The lockdown bullpen didn't allow an earned run in 10.1 innings of work last weekend at Iowa and prior to Tuesday's game vs. CMU, the `pen had allowed just two earned runs in the last 25.1 innings, spanning seven games.
Spartan relievers have struck out 211 batters to only 86 walks this season and the group has combined for an 11-4 record to go along with 14 saves, which is tied for the fourth most in the Big Ten.
After eight appearances as the team's Sunday starter, Walter Borkovich has returned to the bullpen where he's allowed just one earned run on nine hits in 14 innings of work.
Dakota Mekkes leads the team with 24 appearances out of the bullpen and has been a shut down releiver all year long. The redshirt sophomore has inherited 25 runners this season and only two of those runners have come around to score.
With 486 hits on the season, Michigan State ranks fourth in the Big Ten and is averaging 9.9 hits per game. The Spartans have 23 games of double digit hits and MSU is 25-3 when outhitting its opponent this season, as opposed to just 6-12 when being outhit.
The Spartans average 5.4 runs per game and are outscoring opponents by a total of 265-170 on the year, good for a +95 run differential.
Six Spartans have 20 or more RBIs this season while five starters bat better than .300.
Lights Out Landon
In his last seven weekend starts, Ethan Landon is 6-1 with a 2.66 ERA. The redshirt sophomore allowed more than two earned runs only twice during that stretch, one of which was a win vs. Michigan in which the righty went 8.2 innings. He allowed no runs on four hits last weekend in a win at Iowa.
Byars Behind the Plate
Catcher Matt Byars gunned down five of six attempted base stealers last weekend at Iowa. The junior has now thrown out eight batters in the last eight games, while his 12 runners caught stealing on the season are the fourth most in the Big Ten.
The Heartland Community College transfer has been a consistent factor in the MSU lineup, as he not only has the fourth best batting average on the team at .303, but he's also caught in 422.1 of the possible 443.1 innings this season.
Byars had a streak of 21 consecutive games reaching base come to an end vs. EMU (5/11). During a 16-game hitting streak embedded in the reached base streak, Byars hit .365 with 13 extra base hits and eight RBIs to raise his batting average 40 points from .272 to .312. Byars' hitting streak is the second longest streak by an MSU player this season to Jordan Zimmerman's 21-game hitting streak.
Saturday's game will be the final game at McLane Stadium this season and team will recognize the seniors as part of Senior Day. The three Spartan seniors -- PJ Nowak, Justin Hovis and Kris Simonton - have been a part of four 30-plus win seasons, totaling 131 victories entering Thursday's game.
Michigan State has tossed six shutouts this season, which is tied for the 10th most in the country and are the most by a MSU team since the 1998 team also had six. With one more shutout, it would be the most since the 1979 team recorded nine shutouts in a season.
In wins over Auburn, Troy and Illinois State earlier this season, Michigan State recorded three consecutive shutouts for the first time in the program's history since 1979. It wasn't until the seventh inning of the following game against Florida Gulf Coast that MSU gave up a run to end the streak of 33 straight innings without giving up a run.
New Look Spartans
The Michigan State roster consists of three seniors, eight juniors, 14 sophomores and nine freshmen. Highlighting the sophomore-heavy roster is 2015 All-Big Ten Freshmen team members OF Brandon Hughes, C Chad Roskelly and RHP Andrew Gonzalez.
After going 34-23 during the 2015 campaign and finishing tied for third in the Big Ten with a 14-10 mark in conference play, the 2016 Spartans are a new-look team. Spartan returners account for just 27% of the team's RBI total and 24% of the team's hit total in 2015 with Brandon Hughes being the only returning every day starter in centerfield.
Freshman Marty Bechina has started in all 49 games for the Spartans as a dynamic puzzle piece, seeing action at third base, left field, center field and designated hitter. Fellow freshman Royce Ando has started 37 games at shortstop, while three other starting spots in the field are currently filled by transfers. Matt Byars has started in 48 games behind the plate, Jordan Zimmerman has started in every game for MSU and Kris Simonton has seen consistent play in right field as a transfer from Akron.
Saturday starter Ethan Landon is also a transfer from Kansas State in his first year in the Green and White and is 7-2 with a 2.47 ERA.
Continued Success Under Head Coach Jake Boss
In his eighth season as head coach, Jake Boss Jr. has now led MSU to seven straight 30-win seasons on top of winning his 200th game in the Green and White last season. A win over Michigan earlier this year secured the seventh 30-win season for the Spartans under Boss, coming a day after the head coach's 100th Big Ten win.
Junior right-hander Walter Borkovich was picked as the sixth-best prospect in the Big Ten by D-1 Baseball while Cam Vieaux was selected ninth. In addition to having prospects for the 2016 draft, sophomores Alex Troop (5th), Jake Lowery (9th) and Ethan Landon (10th) were listed as top prospect for the 2017 draft. Freshman infielder Marty Bechina was also ranked No. 8 on the list of Impact Freshman in the Big Ten.
MSU had eight players drafted in the 2015 MLB Draft, the most in school history. The previous high for Spartans selected in one MLB Draft was five, which last happened in 2002.
Michigan State heads to Omaha, Nebraska, for the Big Ten Tournament next week, starting on Tuesday.