EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State baseball announced its 2019 schedule Thursday. Head coach Jake Boss Jr., and the Spartans will open the 2019 season on February 15 in the first of a 56-game regular-season ledger.
The Spartans will face six teams that played in last season's NCAA Tournament in a total of 15 games. MSU's home slate consists of hosting 20 games at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field.
"Our 2019 schedule is in line with how we've always scheduled since we've gotten to Michigan State," said Boss, who is entering his 11th season at the helm of the Spartans. "The schedule gives us the opportunity to see different parts of the country, while still playing extremely challenging games that will test us as we get ready for a solid Big Ten slate."
MSU will host Big Ten Conference opponents Michigan, Indiana, Northwestern and Illinois, while playing road league series at Nebraska, Rutgers, Purdue and Iowa. Michigan State will also face B1G foe Ohio State in a non-conference game in Greenville, S.C. as part of the First Pitch Invitational. The Spartans will also play 10 games against in-state opponents, including facing Western Michigan at Comerica Park in Detroit, the home of the Detroit Tigers.
Michigan State opens the 2019 season with a three-game series at New Orleans on Feb. 15-17. The Spartans then play in the Brittain Resorts Baseball at the Beach at Conway, S.C., Feb. 22-24, playing host Coastal Carolina in a doubleheader on Feb. 22, before taking on North Carolina State on Feb. 23 and Kent State on Feb. 24.
"New Orleans is a new opponent for us this year, and we're excited to go down to a place that we haven't been to in that environment. Same can be said for Coastal Carolina, the 2016 National Champions, along with Kent State, who is a perennial power in the Mid-American Conference and NC State is a perennial power in the ACC. It makes for a very challenging week two," Boss said.
MSU opens March by heading to Arizona, opening with a three-game series at Arizona State, Marcy 1-3, before a single game at Arizona on March 5.
"Arizona State is a place that we haven't been either, but it will be a great atmosphere and a very quality opponent, as will Arizona, who we are familiar with from playing a year ago in Minneapolis on a neutral field," Boss said.
The Spartans then return to South Carolina to host the annual First Pitch Invitational at historic Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C., March 8-10, taking on Western Carolina, Furman, Big Ten foe Ohio State and Appalachian State.
Michigan State returns to historic Fluor Field in Greenville on March 15-17, for its third weekend in South Carolina to play UConn in a four-game series.
"Greenville, South Carolina is a staple in our program. It's a destination every year for us and our families, and we're excited to be heading back for a strong field there with Furman, Appalachian State, Western Carolina and Ohio State," Boss said. "Then we get to enjoy the next weekend back in Greenville with a four-game series against last year's number two seed in a regional, UConn, who is a very well coached and talented team.
"That sets us up for a very solid conference slate traveling to Nebraska, Rutgers, Purdue, and Iowa."
The Spartans' home opener at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field is March 20 against in-state foe Central Michigan, in the first of five different in-state opponents. MSU opens its B1G slate at Nebrasks March 22-24, before returning home, welcoming Western Michigan on March 27. Michigan State then faces Michigan in a three-game series, as the Spartans host the Wolverines on March 29 and 31, sandwiched around the game in Ann Arbor on March 30.
"We're excited to have home Big Ten games with Michigan, Indiana, Northwestern, and Illinois. Certainly it's always fun to play your rival and to play them at home is an added bonus. Indiana recently has been one of the top programs in our conference, and that will be good to host them," Boss said. "Northwestern is an up-and-coming program that is very well coached and a program that continues to get better and better. Illinois has been a contender for the Big Ten Championship virtually every year since I've been at Michigan State. Again, another very well coached team."
MSU kicks off the April portion of the schedule at Comerica Park on April 2, before hosting Indiana State at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field in a three-game non-conference series.
"Indiana State comes in as our bye-week opponent," Boss said. "They have a very strong program in the Missouri Valley Conference and will certainly be an outstanding test for us."
A non-conference road game at Notre Dame on April 9 precedes a trip to Piscataway, N.J. for a three-game conference clash with Rutgers April 12-14. The Spartans then open a season-long nine-game homestand on April 17 against Eastern Michigan, then host Indiana (April 19-21), Oakland (April 23), Toledo (April 24) and Northwestern (April 26-28).
"Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan are all mainstays on the schedule as far as midweek games are concerned. Oakland University is back on the schedule this year after a three-year hiatus," Boss said. "We've added Valparaiso this year to our midweek slate, as we played them a year ago here in the non-conference series. We have another traditional opponent with Notre Dame, going to Notre Dame this season and then hosting Toledo, who's coached by former Michigan State assistant, Cory Mee (assistant at MSU from 2000-2003)."
Michigan State hits the road to open the final month of regular-season action, heading to West Lafayette, Ind., to face Purdue on May 3-5, before a non-conference contest at Michigan on May 7. MSU then hosts Valparaiso on May 8, before heading to Iowa City to face Iowa in a three-game series May 10-12, then play at in-state foe Central Michigan on May 14, before closing out regular-season play in a three-game league series at home against Illinois, May 16-18.
The 2019 B1G Tournament is May 22-26, returning to TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska, which will serve as the host venue for the conference tournament through 2022.
The NCAA Regional dates are May 31-June 2, while the NCAA Super Regionals are June 7-9, with the College World Series slated for June 15-26 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska.
Michigan State returns eight starters from the 2018 squad that posted a 20-32 overall ledger and an 11-12 B1G mark, finishing eighth in the league standings and qualifying for the B1G Tournament. MSU made its fourth appearance in the last five seasons in the Big Ten Tournament and its seventh in the 10 years under Boss. Michigan State won four of its last seven B1G games of the regular-season to claim the No. 8 seed. The Spartans also had a stretch of winning seven-straight conference contests for the first time since 2009, including sweeping back-to-back B1G series for the first time since 2011.
The 2018 Spartans also broke the team school record for stolen bases, swiping an even 100 for the season, topping the 98 base swipes by the 2005 squad.
Despite going 20-32, Michigan State led the country in percentage of 1-2 run games in 2018 (57.8 percent) with 30 of 52 games decided by two runs or less.
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