Highlights include 18 home games at McLane Baseball Stadium, a three-game series at SEC power Kentucky, the seventh annual Crosstown Showdown against the Lansing Lugnuts on Thursday, April 11 at Cooley Law School Stadium, and the third annual “Clash at Comerica” vs. Central Michigan on April 17 at Comerica Park in downtown Detroit. MSU will play three teams that earned NCAA bids last season (Austin Peay, Kentucky and Purdue).
The Spartans will open the 2013 campaign with seven games on consecutive weekends at Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C. On the first weekend (Feb. 15-17), MSU will take on Miami-Ohio, Furman and Northwestern. One week later (Feb. 22-24), the Green and White will face Western Carolina and Cincinnati before playing Furman and Miami-Ohio once again.
“Craig Brown, a Michigan State alum, owns the Greenville Drive, and it’s the best trip we take every year,” said Boss. “This year, it worked out that we’re able to go down there twice. Our kids love going down there, our parents and families love going down there, and we had an opportunity to do it back-to-back weekends, so we decided to jump on it.”
For spring break, Michigan State will open with a three-game series (March 1-3) against 2012 NCAA Tournament participant Austin Peay, who went 40-24 last season and advanced to the Eugene Regional title game. The Governors won the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Championship for the second straight year in 2012 and defeated Indiana State and Cal State Fullerton in the NCAA Regionals before falling to Oregon.
The Spartans will play a two-game series at Tennessee Tech (March 5-6) before heading to Lexington, Ky., to battle Kentucky in a three-game set (March 8-10). The Wildcats set a school record for wins last season with a 45-18 record and were ranked No. 1 at one point during the year by Collegiate Baseball. UK reached the Gary Regional final, but fell to eventual College World Series participant Kent State.
After playing in California for the first time in school history last June for the Stanford Regional, the Spartans will return to the West Coast to face Santa Clara for three games (March 15-16).
“We’re trying to maybe take a page out of Coach Tom Izzo’s playbook, where we’ll play anybody, anywhere, anytime,” said Boss, as the Spartans also played at Baylor and Texas A&M last season. “It’s another tough slate for us, but our guys are going to be ready for that. We saw that last year, and it really paid off at the end of the year for us.”
Following 18 games on the road to begin the season, Opening Day at McLane Baseball Stadium is set for Friday, March 22 against Oakland to start a three-game series. Michigan State will open Big Ten play at Ohio State (March 29-31), then has a home-and-home series against Michigan. The Spartans host the Wolverines on Friday, April 5 and Sunday, April 7, and will head to Ann Arbor on Saturday, April 6.
Michigan State also has home Big Ten series against Indiana (April 12-14), Purdue (April 26-28) and Illinois (May 3-5), while traveling to Minnesota (April 19-21), Iowa (May 10-11) and Penn State (May 16-18). The Spartans will play a total of eight Big Ten series, missing Nebraska and Northwestern.
“There aren’t many breaks in the Big Ten Conference,” Boss said. “You look at who’s got what coming back and you go right down the list, and it starts right away with Ohio State. Michigan I know will be better, Indiana’s got a lot of guys returning, Minnesota’s always very good, Purdue had a great year last year and I think they have a lot of young and talented guys coming back there, Illinois’s got a lot of guys returning, as well as Iowa and Penn State. So there’s no break in that schedule for us at all. It’s going to be a tough ride in the Big Ten season. But I like our guys; we’re in a good place right now in our program. It’s going to be exciting to watch our young guys continue to get better and better.”
In addition to Big Ten play, MSU also has non-conference midweek contests scheduled against Central Michigan (March 27, April 17, May 14), Eastern Michigan (April 2, May 8), Western Michigan (April 9, May 7), Toledo (April 16) and Notre Dame (April 24). The third annual Clash at Comerica is set for Wednesday, April 17 at Comerica Park in downtown Detroit against Central Michigan.
The Big Ten Tournament is scheduled for May 22-26 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minn.