FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE
Head coach Jake Boss announced the Michigan State baseball team’s 2009 schedule this week. The Spartans will kick off their 56-game season Feb. 20 in Clearwater, Fla., with the inaugural Big East/Big Ten Challenge.
“We’ve got a very challenging schedule,” said Boss. “It will be an outstanding start to the season with the Big East/Big Ten Challenge, which we are excited to be a part of.”
The Big East/Big Ten Challenge will include all 10 of the Big Ten’s baseball-playing institutions while the Big East will be represented by eight schools, including South Florida, Connecticut, Georgetown, St. John’s, Seton Hall, West Virginia, Cincinnati and Notre Dame. In all, 27 games between the schools will be played at venues in St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Dunedin, Fla.
The Spartans will then travel to Wilmington, N.C., to take on UNC-Wilmington – one of four teams on the Spartans’ slate that competed in last year’s NCAA baseball tournament.
“UNC-Wilmington had a tremendous year last year. They are a very, very talented ball club,” Boss said.
MSU will continue its swing through the Southeast with 10 games in nine days for its annual spring trip. Starting March 6 in Daytona Beach, Fla., MSU will take on Georgia State, Xavier and 2008 NCAA baseball tournament participant Bethune-Cookman (twice). The Spartans will finish up the trip with two games each against ACC foe Clemson, Quinnipiac and Xavier in Clemson and Greenville, S.C.
“Bethune-Cookman is always outstanding and Georgia State, Xavier and Clemson are always good ball clubs,” said Boss.
One of the most anticipated games at MSU this season will take place March 17 when McLane Baseball Stadium opens with the inaugural game against Bowling Green.
Drayton McLane, Jr., recently committed $4 million to enhance the current Kobs Field and the MSU Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve the naming of McLane Baseball Stadium in September.
The Spartans will then host five more non-conference games against Oakland, Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan before beginning conference play.
“I think it is good to play schools in the state of Michigan because so many of them are very good and very competitive,” Boss said.
MSU begins Big Ten play March 27 with a three-game series at Illinois. MSU will also visit conference opponents Ohio State (April 10-12), Iowa (April 24-26) and Indiana (May 14-16) for three-game series’. The Spartans will host Northwestern (April 3-5), Penn State (May 1-3) and Purdue (May 8-10) at McLane Baseball Stadium. The back-to-back series against Penn State and Purdue includes six games and will match the longest home stand of the season.
The Big Ten has altered the format of its series this year, switching from a four game format that included two, seven-inning doubleheaders to three, nine-inning games.
“The three-game series, I think, is a positive for us,” explained Boss. “I don’t know that anyone really like playing seven-inning games and doubleheaders can make for long days. Playing three game series also helps you be more competitive during the week from a pitching standpoint.”
As in year’s past, MSU and Michigan will split its three-game series, playing twice in East Lansing (April 17 and 19) and once in Ann Arbor (April 18).
Other non-conference opponents making appearances on the schedule include Central Michigan (April 1, 22 and May 12) and Notre Dame (March 31).
The Spartans will take a break from regular season play, April 16, when they take on the Lansing Lugnuts at Oldsmobile Park in Lansing in the third annual Crosstown Showdown.