The Michigan State baseball team opens up Big Ten play this weekend (March 30-April 1) with a four-game series at Indiana. The Spartans (8-8) are riding a two-game winning streak after topping Bowling Green, 5-3, on Wednesday at Steller Field on the BGSU campus. Indiana (10-8) has a streak of its own, entering the weekend series with six straight wins. MSU took three of four games from Indiana last season at Oldsmobile Park. Live stats of all four games will be available via Gametracker at www.msuspartans.com.
Senior right-hander Craig Brookes, who started Opening Day Feb. 23 and the home opener for the Spartans March 24, will also get the call for the Big Ten opener. Brookes brings a perfect 2-0 record into Friday's contest, and he leads the Big Ten with a 1.01 ERA. He also ranks among the league leaders in earned runs allowed (first with three), opposing batting average (second at .183) and strikeouts (fourth with 26). Brookes took a no decision in last year's meeting with Indiana, as he struck out five and gave up seven runs, four earned, in eight innings of work. He will match up against sophomore righty Tyler Tufts, who is 3-2 with a 2.83 ERA in 35.0 innings pitched.
A pair of southpaws will be going Saturday in the doubleheader. Junior transfer Jon Kibler (1-2, 5.04 ERA) will go in game one, while freshman Kyle Corcoran will make his first collegiate start in game two. Corcoran has struck out three batters in his two appearances this season, pitching one inning at South Florida and 2/3 of an inning against Quinnipiac.
In the final game of the series, senior John Dwan will take to the hill. Dwan started Wednesday at Bowling Green in a tuneup for the weekend, getting two innings of work. Dwan is 1-2 on the season with a 3.52 ERA in 23.0 innings of action.
After the Indiana series, Michigan State matches up against the Lansing Lugnuts (Class A affiliate - Toronto Blue Jays) for the Crosstown Showdown Tuesday, April 3 at Oldmobile Park. The exhibition will be the first-ever meeting between the two teams. All tickets for the event, which begins at 6:05 p.m., are just $5.
QUICK LOOK AT THE SPARTANS (8-8, 0-0 BIG TEN)
â€¢ The Spartans have won their last two games (Concordia and Bowling Green).
â€¢ MSU has two wins over top 50 teams (Oklahoma, South Florida).
â€¢ According to Boyd's World, MSU has played the third-toughest schedule thus far among Big Ten teams.
â€¢ MSU returns 18 players, including 11 pitchers, from last season's team that finished 26-30 overall, 13-19 in the Big Ten.
â€¢ The Spartans have 12 newcomers this season (three freshmen, three sophomores, six juniors).
QUICK LOOK AT THE HOOSIERS (10-8, 0-0 BIG TEN)
â€¢ Indiana has won six straight games (North Florida, three over Florida A&M, two over IPFW).
â€¢ In its only games against a ranked opponent, IU was swept in a three-game series at Florida State.
â€¢ IU's roster is dominated by freshmen, featuring 19 rookies on this year's team.
â€¢ Freshman Evan Crawford leads the team with a .391 batting average.
Props to Ben Phlegar the MSU SID.