McLane Baseball Stadium, East Lansing, Michigan
Friday, April 19, 6:35 p.m.
Saturday, April 20, 4:05 p.m.
Sunday, April 21, 1:05 p.m.
On Tuesday Indiana hosted Ball State for an in-state matchup and took the win with ease. An offensive explosion including home runs from Cole Barr, Matt Lloyd, Scotty Bradley, Matt Gorski, and Sam Crail led to Indiana scoring runs in bunches throughout the evening. Tommy Sommer was dominant on the mound for Indiana. He struck out a career-high 10 hitters in six innings of two-run baseball and really stood out as one of the driving forces behind the 14-3 Hoosier win.
After the win on Tuesday IU is riding an eight-game winning streak into a weekend series against a team that’s possibly worse than the Cardinals. Michigan State currently sits 188th in RPI, which isn’t a be-all, end-all ranking in college baseball though it is more important than in college basketball, and if they take a win this weekend against Indiana the Spartans will break double-digit wins on the season. It would also be their first Big Ten win. For comparison Indiana is 21st in RPI, reached 10 wins over a month ago, and got its first Big Ten win shortly after that. The moral of the story here is that Michigan State is a bad baseball team—quite possibly the only team in the conference without some sort of redeeming quality.
That being said, there are a couple of players on the Spartan roster that have played well in 2019. Junior outfielder Bryce Kelley is hitting .305 on the season, serving as MSU’s most consistent offensive threat. He’s also a threat on the basepaths, swiping 14 bags on 18 attempts It’s worth noting that he’s the only Spartan hitting above .270 or with more than seven stolen base attempts. On the other side of the ball six-foot-seven righthander Mike Mokma has great numbers. He’s recorded a 2.37 earned run average and a 1.30 WHIP in five starts, both team bests for any Spartan with multiple appearances. Here’s the problem—he hasn’t pitched for Michigan State since March 16 when he gave up eight runs, six of those unearned, against a good UConn team. He also has 32 strikeouts on the season, which only three of his teammates have eclipsed so far. That might be concerning considering that he hasn’t pitched in over a month.
For the Hoosiers to win this series they simply have to keep doing what they’ve done over the past eight games—get good performances from the starting rotation, hit home runs, and beat an inferior opponent. This is a series that Indiana shouldn’t just win. This is a series that Indiana should sweep. If they fail to do so it will be a big blow to IU’s RPI standing as well as its postseason resume, potentially killing the potential for the Hoosiers to host a regional in Bloomington which is currently something that seems possible but not likely.