Northwestern baseball to host Michigan State at Miller Park – Sports Illustrated

Northwestern baseball to host Michigan State at Miller Park – Sports Illustrated

Northwestern baseball will reach the midpoint of the Big Ten Conference schedule this weekend when the team welcomes the Michigan State Spartans to Evanston. The Wildcats (16-16, 4-5 B1G) and Spartans (15-19, 2-7 B1G) were both swept last weekend in conference series but rebounded with midweek wins against non-conference opponents. Last season, the ‘Cats won three out of four games against Michigan State in Greenville, S.C., winning a series over the Spartans for the first time since 2010.
The Spartans have lost their first three Big Ten Conference series this year, falling to Michigan, Ohio State and Illinois. After being swept by Michigan at home last weekend, Michigan State defeated Oakland and Eastern Michigan this week in non-conference matchups. The Spartans are 1-3 in road series this year and own a 5-9 record in true road games.
Sophomore outfielder Jack Frank leads the team in several offensive statistics, including batting average (.333), home runs (6), runs (26) and on-base plus slugging percentage (1.005). Frank has nine hits in his last five starts and has homered in the team’s previous two Big Ten series. Sophomore infielder Mitch Jebb provides speed at the top of the Spartan lineup, swiping 13 bases this year and leading the team in walks and hits. Michigan State ranks fifth in the Big Ten Conference with a .276 team batting average, barely edging Northwestern’s .275 team average this season.
Michigan State’s pitching staff has struggled against Big Ten opponents, allowing 67 earned runs in 79 conference innings. The defense has not helped Spartan pitchers much this year, as the team’s .961 fielding percentage is third to last in the conference. The Spartans feature one of the Big Ten’s top closers in Kyle Bischoff, a graduate transfer from Toledo. Bischoff has saved eight games in 2022 and has only surrendered one earned run in 18.2 innings with 23 strikeouts.
Michigan State head coach Jake Boss Jr. is in his 14th year at the helm of the program and has amassed a 374-321 record. Boss led the Spartans to the NCAA Tournament in 2012 and won Big Ten Baseball Coach of the Year in 2011 after his team won the regular season title.
Following a tough weekend in Champaign, the Wildcats beat Saint Louis 8-5 on Tuesday at Rocky and Berenice Miller Park. Sophomore right-hander David Utagawa started for the first time this year and held the Billikens to four hits and one unearned run over four innings. Stephen Hrustich blasted his seventh home run of the season in the fourth inning to break open the game, giving the junior his fourth home run in his last six games. Jay Beshears went 1-3 with a walk at the plate before closing out the game on the mound for his second save this year. Beshears extended his on-base streak to 18 games, recording hits in 17 of those contests.
The Wildcats and Spartans are scheduled to start the series at Miller Park on Friday at 3:30 p.m. CT, although poor weather conditions are forecasted. Follow the Northwestern Baseball Twitter account for updates on this weekend’s schedule.
Game 1: Friday, April 22, 3:30 p.m. CT
Game 2: Saturday, April 23, 2:00 p.m. CT
Game 3: Sunday, April 24, 2:00 p.m. CT
Northwestern: LHP Sean Sullivan (4-0, 2.93 ERA, 46 IP, 61 K)
The Wildcats will look to bounce back in Big Ten Conference play after being swept by Illinois last weekend.
Two Illinois pitchers held the Wildcats scoreless in the series finale, and Northwestern dropped its first series since early March.
Lack of hitting with runners in scoring position leads to 'Cats downfall as they drop game two of their series against the Illinois Fighting illini.
Michigan State: LHP Nick Powers (2-4, 5.82 ERA, 43.1 IP, 38 K)
Northwestern: RHP Michael Farinelli (3-4, 3.98 ERA, 54.1 IP, 40 K)
Michigan State: RHP Conner Tomasic (2-1, 4.93 ERA, 38.1 IP, 33 K)
Northwestern: RHP Grant Comstock (0-2, 5.03 ERA, 19.2 IP, 16 K)
Michigan State: RHP Harrison Cook (0-4, 8.91 ERA, 33.1 IP, 34 K)
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