FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State baseball coach Jake Boss Jr. announced the Spartans’ 2014 schedule today (Wednesday). The 56-game slate includes five opponents that took part in last season’s NCAA Tournament, including three that advanced to the College World Series. MSU will open the season Feb. 14 in Cary, N.C., and it will play its first of 21 home games on March 21 when it opens Big Ten play with Ohio State.
“I think it’s another very competitive schedule,” said Boss. “I think our schedule in the past couple years has both helped our ball club improve and get better as the season goes on, as well as given us a chance to play in the postseason and the NCAA tournament. I think there’s a good balance of games in there that are high-RPI games that will help us put us in the position to play in the postseason.”
The Spartans’ non-conference slate includes teams from 13 different conferences from across the country.
“I think when you play teams from different conferences – especially teams that were in the top part of their conference – it’s good for your RPI,” said Boss. “For example, we saw that last year with playing a team like Western Carolina, which ended up winning its conference. We want to put ourselves in a position to have an RPI that gets us in consideration for an at-large bid and have a chance to continue to play.”
MSU will have the opportunity to bolster its RPI early in the season as four of its first 10 games will be against teams that played in last year’s NCAA Tournament, including Canisius, Oregon State and Mississippi State (twice). Oregon State, Mississippi State and conference-foe Indiana all took part in the 2013 College World Series.
“We’ll have the opportunity to play in several NCAA regional-type atmospheres that I think will not only help our guys play in the very difficult Big Ten Conference, but also again give us a chance to prepare for postseason play,” said Boss. “Anytime you play three of the eight College World Series teams from the year before, it’s going to be a challenge.”
Michigan State will begin the season with four games in Cary, N.C., Feb. 14-16, where it will meet St. Joseph’s, Albany, Wright State and Canisius.
“Opening the season in North Carolina at the USA Baseball complex is going to be a new experience for us, but we’re excited to play four very good programs from the north,” said Boss.
The Spartans will meet three opponents from the Pac-12 the following weekend in Surprise, Ariz. The Spartans will play Utah (Feb. 21), Oregon State (Feb. 22) and Washington (Feb. 23) all at Surprise Stadium.
“Playing three teams from the Pac-12 will certainly be a challenge,” said Boss.
MSU’s spring trip will consist of eight games in a 10-day span, beginning on Feb. 28 in Starkville, Miss. The Spartans will take on both Eastern Illinois and Mississippi State twice before heading to Monroe, La., to meet Louisiana-Monroe on March 5. The spring trip will conclude March 7-9 in Fort Worth, Texas, where MSU will meet TCU in a three-game set.
The Spartans will make their annual trip to Greenville, S.C., March 15-17 where they will meet Harvard for three games at Flour Field.
“Playing in Greenville at Flour Field is a highlight of our schedule every year,” said Boss. “The owner, Craig Brown, and the Greenville Drive do a great job of hosting us and we always look forward to the experience.”
The Spartans will begin Big Ten play the following weekend, March 21-23, when they host Ohio State. MSU will also host Purdue (April 11-13), Northwestern (April 25-27) and Nebraska (May 10-12) in East Lansing in 2014.
“Playing Ohio State at home always makes for a very competitive series,” said Boss. “Purdue won the Big Ten title two years ago and Northwestern is always well-coached and they play hard and play well against us.
“Having a chance to host a quality program like Nebraska is going to be exciting,” said Boss.
MSU will play Minnesota (March 28-30), Indiana (April 18-20), Illinois (May 2-4) and Penn State (May 15-17) on the road this season.
“It will be exciting to play in some new ballparks this season at Minnesota and Indiana,” said Boss.
The Green and White will play nine non-conference games at McLane Baseball Stadium, starting on March 26 vs. Central Michigan. MSU will also meet Oakland (April 2), Western Michigan (April 9), new ACC-member Notre Dame (April 15), Toledo (April 22) and Eastern Michigan (May 7) in solo games at home.
MSU will host Siena of the Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference, April 5-6, in a three game non-conference series.
“It will be nice to host a new team in Siena during our off-weekend in the Big Ten,” said Boss. “We’ll host some other programs from around the country, including from the Pac-12, in the future during our Big Ten off-weekends.”
The Spartans will make return trips to Eastern Michigan (April 1), Central Michigan (April 16) and Western Michigan (May 6).
MSU and CMU will meet again in Detroit in the Clash at Comerica on May 13.
“Playing Central Michigan at Comerica Park is always fun,” said Boss. “Most of our guys have had the opportunity to play there before in high school all-star games. Playing in big-league stadium is a great experience.”
The eighth-annual Crosstown Showdown against the Lansing Lugnuts will take place Thursday, April 3 at Cooley Law School Stadium.
“The Lugnuts are a first-class organization and it’s always a great night when we get the opportunity to play them in downtown Lansing,” said Boss. “It should be another great crowd.”
This year’s Big Ten Tournament is scheduled for May 21-25 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb.
“Having the chance to play at TD Ameritrade Park is exciting and it’s our job to get ourselves there,” said Boss. “If we can do that in a very competitive league, it should be a great atmosphere and we’re excited about the possibility of going out there and competing for a championship. We’re excited to have the tournament out there and continue to expand our reach across the Midwest and on a national level as well.”