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Spartans Head To Minneapolis To Battle Gophers In Weekend Series


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MICHIGAN STATE (7-8, 7-8 B1G) at MINNESOTA (3-12, 3-12 B1G)                                                                      
Siebert Field  ||  Minneapolis, Minn.
NO TICKETS – families only
High/Low – Fri: 59° / 39°  | Sat: 68° / 46° | Sun: 74° / 52° 
Game Notes
Michigan State  |  Minnesota
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Game 1
Friday, Apr. 2 – 5 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. CT
Probable Pitching Matchup
MINN: #44 RHP Sam Ireland  (SO)    (0-2, 3.70 ERA)

MSU: #30 RHP Mason Erla (R-JR)    (2-2, 3.65 ERA)
Live Stats | Watch Live on Big Ten Network+ ($)
Game 2
Saturday, Apr. 3 – 2 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. CT
Probable Pitching Matchup
MINN: #15 LHP Jack Liffrig  (R-SO)    (1-1, 5.06 ERA)

MSU: #44 Adam Berghorst (FR)    (1-1, 4.08 ERA)
Live Stats | Watch Live on Big Ten Network+ ($)
Game 3
Sunday, Apr. 4 – 2 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. CT
Probable Pitching Matchup
MINN: #37 RHP Trent Schoeberl (SO)    (0-1, 5.40 ERA)

MSU: #46 LHP Nick Powers (FR)    (2-1, 2.35 ERA)
Live Stats | Watch Live on Big Ten Network+ ($)

Leading Off… Spartans Head To Minneapolis To Battle Gophers In Weekend Series
• Michigan State baseball will head to Minneapolis to take on Minnesota in a three-game weekend series, Friday-Sunday, April 2-4 at the Golden Gophers’ Siebert Field … Friday’s series opener’s first pitch is set for 5 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. CT, while Saturday and Sunday have 2 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. CT start times.
• Due to the start of the season being delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, MSU is playing 44 games over 13 weekends in a Big Ten Conference-only ledger in 2021.
• Due to current state, county and local guidelines, no fans will be allowed this weekend, only a small amount of the student-athletes’ and staff families are permitted.
• The Spartan games this weekend will have live stats through “Live Stats” links found at MSUSpartans.com … There will be video streams available through Big Ten Network + with subscription fee required, with links also found at MSUSpartans.com.
• Minnesota is making its 2021 season-debut at Siebert Field, after the Gophers played their first eight games as the home team at U.S. Bank Stadium (0-2 vs. Indiana, 1-1 vs. Rutgers, 1-3 vs. Illinois), followed by three games as the visiting team at U.S. Bank Stadium, taking one of three from Northwestern, then four games at Nebraska, losing all four … Friday marks the Gophers’ first home game since May 12, 2019, a span of 692 days in between competitions at Minnesota’s home ballpark.
• Senior outfielder Bryce Kelley has swiped six stolen bases so far this season, which not only ranks second in the B1G, but also leads the team, and also leaves him just one from tying, two from breaking the Michigan State career stolen base record … Kelley now has swiped 78 bases in his career, closing in on Anthony Cheky (2012-15) with the stolen base record of 79.
1.      Anthony Cheky….. 79…… 2012-15
2.      Bryce Kelley…….. 78.. 2017-pres.
• Redshirt-junior pitcher Mason Erla has a team-leading 25 strikeouts so far, now with 188 for his career (2017-pres.), and has climbed up to No. 8 on MSU’s career strikeouts list … Erla needs just four strikeouts to move up to No. 7 and with just 12 more, he would become just the fifth Spartan pitcher in school history with 200 career strikeouts, the last being Cam Vieaux with 205 from 2014-16 … last season, Erla had 42 strikeouts in just four appearances (10.3 strikeouts per game), before the season was cancelled after 15 games … this season, Erla has 25 K in four outings (6.3 spg).
1.      Bryan Gale………. 277……. 2001-04
2.      Tony Bucciferro.. 273……. 2009-12
3.      Ron Perranoski… 223….. ..1956-58
4.      Cam Vieaux .. …..205 … .. 2014-16
5.      Brian Murphy . …194 … .. 1995-98
6.      Dick Radatz .. …..193 … .. 1957-59
7.      David Garner .. …192 … .. 2011-13
8       Mason Erla……. 188.. 2017-pres.
9.      Craig Brookes… ..186 … .. 2004-07
10.    Mick VanVossen 180……. 2012-15
         Mickey Sinks……. 180……. 1959-61
• Michigan State’s Nick Powers has been named the Big Ten Conference Baseball Co-Freshman of the Week, announced by the conference office on Tuesday, March 30.
• Powers collects MSU’s first Big Ten Freshman of the Week award since March 12, 2018 when current teammate Mason Erla earned the accolade. This is the second weekly honor this season for the Spartans, as sophomore outfielder Zaid Walker was named the Player of the Week on March 10 following the opening weekend of the season.
• Powers, a freshman pitcher from Flushing, Michigan, earned this week’s honor for his performance in Michigan State’s win over B1G-leader Indiana on Sunday, March 28. In his first-ever game at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field, Powers fired 6.2 IP shutout innings in earning the win against B1G leader Indiana on Sunday, running his scoreless inning streak to 15-straight innings, before yielding a run with two outs in the seventh. He finished with three strikeouts, and did not allow an Indiana runner past second base until the seventh, his final inning, in limiting the Hoosiers to a season-low four hits while tying a season-low with just one run, after Indiana entered the game among the B1G leaders in hits and runs. Powers also got solid defensive play behind him to help stymie Indiana.
• The Spartan southpaw is the only pitcher in the Big Ten to defeat the top two teams in the league standings in Indiana and Michigan. He accomplished the feat in his last two starts over the span of less than a week, beating Michigan last Monday, March 22, and Indiana on Sunday, March 28.
• In the win over Michigan on Monday, March 22, Powers went a career-high 7.0 innings while limiting Michigan to just four hits, while striking out three in just his third collegiate appearance, as Michigan State shutout Michigan, 3-0, for the Spartans’ first shutout win over Michigan since April 19, 2002 in Ann Arbor, as well as snapping a 10-game losing skein in the series. He also dealt No. 22 Michigan it’s first shutout loss of the season, and the Wolverines’ first shutout loss since March 17, 2019.
• The Spartans have five players hitting over .300, including four starters, as senior outfielder Joe Stewart is hitting .380, followed by sophomore outfielder Zaid Walker at .375, senior outfielder Bryce Kelley at .364 and freshman infielder Trent Farquhar at .333, along with freshman outfielder/designated hitter Jack Frank at .667, but is just 2-for-3 in limited action.
• MSU’s posted pair of shutout wins in the Ann Arbor pod, with an 11-0 blanking of Illinois on Saturday, March 20, then a 3-0 shutout of No. 22 Michigan on Monday, March 22 … here’s a look at some shutout notes:

• The Spartans’ last back-to-back wins on shutouts: April 5 & 7, 2019, vs. Indiana State, winning inaugural night game of McLane Stadium at Kobs Field on April 5, 1-0 in 10 innings, and then winning, 6-0 on April 7.
• MSU now has three shutouts already this season, the most shutouts in a season since 2016 when the Spartans posted six blankings.
•  The Spartans’ three shutouts in 12 games is the most in the first 12 games since 2016, when had three, all in a row.
• Monday’s 3-0 win at Michigan was the Spartans’ first shutout win over Michigan since 2002, when MSU also won in Ann Arbor.
• Senior outfielder Joe Stewart is off to a torrid start, leading MSU and ranking 11th in the Big Ten in slugging percentage at .640 … Stewart also tops the Spartans with five doubles on the season, good for 12th in the B1G in overall doubles and ranking tied for 13th in doubles per game (0.36), and also leads MSU with 12 RBI, ranking tied for 20th in the league … overall, Stewart is hitting .380 (19-of-50) leading the team… Stewart also leads the team in extra-base hits with eight on five doubles, one triple and two home runs.
• Stewart hit .471 (8-for-17) in the four games of the Ann Arbor pod vs. Illinois and Michigan, including four doubles, coming in a span of three games, with one vs. Illinois in the opener on Saturday, March 20, then two in the game on March 21 vs. Illinois before another one in the nightcap vs. Michigan … Stewart also had a team-best five RBI, with three coming March 20 vs. Illinois, coming to bat with the bases loaded and clearing them with a three-run double.
• Stewart also had a standout play in the field of the win on March 22, getting an outfield assist to end the fourth inning, firing a frozen rope to junior catcher Adam Proctor at home, and Proctor made a nice snag and tag on the UM runner for the out to end the inning and preserve MSU’s 2-0 lead.
• Sophomore outfielder Zaid Walker is hitting .375 (21-of-56), and also leads the team in hits (21), while tied for the team lead in home runs (1), along with ranking tied for second in RBI (10) and slugging percentage (.536), and second in runs (12), plus tied for second in doubles (4) and triples (1), while ranking third in stolen bases (3) … Walker also is second on the team in extra-base hits with six on four doubles, one triple and one home run.
• Senior infielder/designated hitter Bailey Peterson blasted his first career home run in MSU’s 3-0 win at No. 22 Michigan on March 22 in Ann Arbor, smashing a solo home run over the approximately 30-foot high brick wall in left field of Fisher Stadium in the top of the ninth to put the Spartans ahead, 3-0.
• Peterson becomes the second Spartan senior this season to smash their first career home run, joining outfielder Joe Stewart, who crushed his first career home run on March 14, going deep over the Green Monster at Fluor Field for a 3-run HR in the seventh inning, giving MSU a 5-3 lead, before Northwestern won on a walk-off.
• Freshman left-handed pitcher Nick Powers was dealing against Michigan, going a career-high 7.0 innings while limiting the Wolverines to just four hits, and striking out three in just his third collegiate appearance to earn his first collegiate win as MSU shutout Michigan, 3-0, for the Spartans’ first shutout win over Michigan since April 19, 2002 in Ann Arbor … Powers got some solid defensive help behind him, as he stymied the Michigan bats.
• Michigan came into the game hitting .274 and averaging 8.7 hits and 7.1 runs per game, and Powers stymied the Wolverine bats to just four hits and no runs, hitting just .174 (4-for-29).
• Powers’ previous season-long outing was 5.0 IP, while his previous season-low for runs allowed was two.
• Redshirt-junior right-hander Mason Erla was also dealing at the Ann Arbor pod weekend, firing season-highs of 7.0 IP and eight strikeouts against Illinois on March 20, yielding a season-low of four hits, all singles, and only walking two.
• Erla posted three three-up, three-down innings, getting two key double plays from the Spartan defense as well.
• He had at least one K in five of his seven innings of work, including a pair of punchouts in the second and fifth frames. 
• For the season, Erla is now 2-2, with a 3.65 ERA in four appearances, chalking up a team-leading 25 strikeouts in 24.2 IP, with one complete game, pitching all six innings in MSU’s 4-2 loss to Northwestern in the seven-innings of game one of the doubleheader.
• Michigan State’s Zaid Walker has been named the Big Ten Baseball Player of the Week for the opening week of the 2021 season, announced on March 10 by the conference office.
This is the second-straight season that Michigan State has collected the B1G Player of the Week award after the opening weekend of the season, as Bryce Kelley garnered the honor last season on Feb. 17, 2020 after the first weekend of play.
Walker, a sophomore outfielder from Homewood, Illinois, hit a team-leading .462 (6-13), with five RBI and one double, logging a .538 slugging percentage and scoring three runs in helping Michigan State win three of four games against Maryland in Greenville, South Carolina in the opening weekend of the 2021 season.
He had at least one hit in all four games, including going 3-for-3 with three RBI and two runs scored in MSU’s 7-4 win in game one of Saturday’s doubleheader.
Walker also beat out an infield single to keep MSU’s rally going in the seventh inning of Saturday’s nightcap of the twinbill, to drive in what turned out to be the game-winning run, completing the Spartans’ comeback after a 4-0 lead by Maryland, in the 5-4 Victory for MSU.
This is Walker’s first career B1G Player of the Week honor, adding to his B1G award collection that includes Big Ten All-Freshman Team accolades in 2019.
Michigan State has collected two of the last three Big Ten Player of the Weeks awarded, as Walker’s teammate Peter Ahn collected the accolade March 2, 2020, the second-to-last recognition of the 2020 season before the remainder of the season was canceled.  The Spartans have also collected three of the last five Player of the Week honors, with Kelley’s first week honor last season, as there were only four awards before the season was halted.
• Freshman pitcher Adam Berghorst collected his first career win vs. Northwestern on March 13 … Berghorst went a career-long 5.0 IP and tied a career-best with three strikeouts, while yielding just two hits, one run on no walks.
• Senior right-hander Sam Benschoter fired a career-high 10 strikeouts in a 6-0 shutout Victory for MSU over Maryland in the 2021 season-opener on March 5 at Fluor Field in Greenville, South Carolina, going a career-high 8.0 innings.
In MSU’s first game since March 8, 2020, before the rest of the 2020 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Benschoter didn’t show any signs of layoff, as he provided much of the excitement on the night, and was dealing, scattering just five hits to a Maryland offense that hit .258 as a team, and the Spartan hurler stymied the Terrapin offense, shutting them out after they led the Big Ten last year with 111 runs in 15 games (7.4 runs per game, including striking out well-decorated Preseason Award winner Maxwell Costes twice as part of holding him to 0-3
Benschoter also out-dueled Maryland starting pitcher Sean Burke, who was selected as the Big Ten Preseason Pitcher of the Year. Burke went 6.0 IP with 13 strikeouts, but the Spartans scored three runs off of him, as along with plating the pair of runs in the first, added a run in the sixth … There were approximately 30 scouts on hand to watch the Big Ten baseball opener, and they witnessed a superb Benschoter outing.
• Redshirt-freshman relief pitcher William Christophersen came on in relief in the second game on March 6, going 5.0 IP with a career-high seven strikeouts … Christophersen’s earned the win in the same site of his first career victory, coming at Fluor Field on March 1, 2020 vs. Ball State.
• Junior infielder/pitcher Zach Iverson closed out all three of MSU’s wins in the opening weekend … despite not getting a save in the opener, Iverson came back to chalk up two saves in the Spartan sweep of the twinbill on March 6, capping both saves with strikeouts … Iverson’s pitching line for the weekend was three appearances, with 1.2 IP, two saves, four strikeouts, no walks and just one hit for a 0.00 ERA.
Iverson started all three of the pitching appearances at third base, before coming on to pitch … in the opener on March 5, Iverson took over in the top of the ninth, and after hitting first batter, came back with a vengeance by ringing up a pair of strikeouts, then getting a ground out to end it.
In the first game of doubleheader on March 6, the seven-inning contest, Iverson came on with two outs in the top of the seventh and promptly struck out Maryland’s highly decorated hitter Maxwell Costes to end the game and seal the Victory for MSU.
In the nightcap, Iverson again took the mound after playing third, and after yielding a single, again chalked up a punchout to end the game, earning the save and clinching the win.
Iverson also had a solid weekend at the plate, hitting .308 (4-for-13) with four RBI and two walks.
• In the shutout upset win at No. 22 Michigan, Iverson again started at third base and factored into all three outs of the bottom of the ninth … while still at third, Iverson caught a foul out for the first out … after a walk put Wolverines at first and second, Iverson took the mound … he fired just two pitches, getting a strike and then inducing a comebacker, that Iverson cleanly fielded his position, spun and fired to freshman shortstop Mitch Jebb at second, who threw to freshman first baseman Brock Vradenburg to complete the double play and spark the celebration of the Victory for MSU.
• Freshman infielder Mitch Jebb had a smashing Spartan debut, going 1-for-3 with three runs scored, along with drawing two walks … in Jebb’s first at bat for the Green & White, led off the MSU lineup and drew a walk and came around to score the Spartans’ first run of the season … after lining out in his second at bat, Jebb tripled in his third at bat of the night to lead off the sixth, and scored on the next batter, Bryce Kelley’s, sac fly.
Jebb ended his first weekend of action as a Spartan hitting .286 (4-for-15), hitting a home run shy of a weekend cycle with a double and triple, along with scoring five runs … he also knocked in one RBI and swiped one base.

• Jebb was just one of six Spartans to made their debuts for the Green & White in the opening weekend, as freshman lefty Nick Powers made his Spartan debut by starting Sunday’s series finale, and went 5.0 IP, scattering three hits while striking out six, yielding two runs.
Freshman first baseman Brock Vradenburg also started Sunday’s game, going 1-for-3 with a run scored on offense, while making a pair of nifty defensive plays in the top of the eighth, chasing down a foul ball and catching it near the stands for the first out of the inning, then on the next out, made a nice snag on a scorcher down the line, scooping and tossing to junior relief pitcher Wyatt Rush covering the bag.
Sophomore Burrell Jones also made his Spartan debut Sunday … the right-hander pitched 2.0 IP of relief, chalking up two strikeouts.
Freshman infielder Trent Farquhar came on to play second base as a defensive sub in the top of ninth of Friday’s opener.
Junior pitcher Jordan Beatson made the first appearances of their MSU career. Beatson transferred to Michigan State from Furman, after they discontinued baseball, and is from nearby Columbia, South Carolina, and made a relief appearance Saturday night.
• Three Michigan State baseball players earned Big Ten Preseason Players to Watch honors, as the conference announced its preseason honors list and preseason poll ahead of Friday’s 2021 season openers around the league.
The conference coaches voted on the top six teams and also selected three student-athletes from their own squads to a Preseason Honors list.
Junior pitcher Mason Erla, senior outfielder Bryce Kelley and senior infielder Bailey Peterson earned the preseason recognition.
• Erla collects his third preseason accolade, as he was a Preseason All-American by Perfect Game and Collegiate Baseball.
The Spartan pitcher was a postseason Second-Team All-American by Collegiate Baseball, becoming Michigan State’s first All-American since 2015 when relief pitcher Dakota Mekkes was a Third-Team National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) All-American. Erla was the Spartans’ first starting pitcher to earn All-American accolades since 1998, when Mark Mulder was a Third-Team Collegiate Baseball/Louisville Slugger All-American.
A native of Cass City, Michigan, Erla posted a 2-0 record with a paltry 1.04 ERA in four starts, firing 42 strikeouts with only four overall runs allowed, with three earned, and just six walks in 26.0 IP. He ranked second in the B1G and 10th in the NCAA with 42 strikeouts, along with being tied for sixth in the conference with eight strikeouts looking. Erla also ranked second in the league and 49th in the nation with a 1.04 ERA, and ranked 16th in conference with a .211 batting average against. Additionally, Erla ranked fourth in the B1G and tied for 30th in the NCAA with 14.54 strikeouts per nine innings, along with ranking tied for fourth in the league and 74th in the nation with a 7.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Erla was named the Big Ten Conference Pitcher of the Week and one of Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s National Players of the Week on March 10 for his performance vs. Troy on March 6 in which he fired a career-high 12 strikeouts, and had a no-hitter going for 5.2 IP, not allowing a hit until the sixth inning to lead Michigan State to a 1-0 win over Troy in a Friday night pitchers’ duel. The Spartan hurler ended with 12 strikeouts over 7.0 IP, allowing just two hits, going 5.2 IP of no-hit baseball, before a single in the sixth and a bloop wind-aided, wind-blown double in the seventh. He didn’t allow a Troy base-runner to touch second base until the seventh inning, as he rang up a three-up, three-down inning in the first, second, fourth and fifth frames, and didn’t face more than four Troy batters in any inning, as the Trojans came into the game hitting .320 as a team.
The 12 strikeouts vs. Troy was Erla’s new career-high, marking the third time this season that he has set or tied a new career-best in four appearances. Erla tallied 11 Ks in the season-opener vs. Morehead State on Feb. 14 and matched that with 11 punchouts on Feb. 21 vs. Merrimack.
• Kelley, a native of Rockford, Michigan, was tabbed as the Danny Litwhiler Defensive Player of the Year for the second-straight season as part of the 2020 MSU team awards. He also collected the 2020 MSU SASS Scholar-Athlete Award for having the highest GPA on the baseball team, and was also named to the 2020 Google Cloud Academic First-Team All-District® Baseball Team
Last season, Kelley started in center field in 13 games, while starting in left in first two games. He posted a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage, with 19 putouts and two assists, along with using his speed to cut down several hits, turning several doubles into singles. His highlight outfield assist was his throw to Gabe Sotres for the tag at the plate in top of ninth for defensive walk-off vs. Western Carolina on Feb. 29, to preserve a 4-3 win. Kelley’s other outfield assist came vs. Morehead State on Feb. 16 with a double play on a flyout and doubling-up the runner at second.
Kelley joined Peterson as the only Spartans to play and start in all 15 games, and one of three players to play in all 15 contests, along with Ahn. He was second on the team with a .400 average, ranking tied for fifth in the B1G and tied for 88th in the NCAA, along with ranking sixth in the conference with a .486 on-base percentage, and added a .417 slugging percentage. Kelley ranked second on the team, along with tied for fourth in the B1G and tied for 74th in the NCAA with 24 hits. He shared the team and Big Ten lead with eight stolen bases with Peterson, ranking tied for 45th in NCAA, and also ranked tied for second in the conference and tied for 44th in the country with 0.53 stolen bases/game.
He was tabbed as the Big Ten Conference Co-Player of the Week on Feb. 17, for his performance in the opening weekend for his first career Big Ten Player of the Week award. Kelley hit .647 (11-of-17) for the weekend, which led the Big Ten by over .100, as well as ranking 15th in the NCAA after the first weekend of the season, leading Michigan State to a four-game sweep of Morehead State in Charleston, South Carolina at Shipyard Park, as the Spartans were the only Big Ten team to win all four of their games on the weekend. Kelley’s 11 hits also led not only the Big Ten, but shared the lead for the most in the NCAA, and was three hits more than any other player in the conference. He had at least two hits in all four games played, including going 4-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored, adding one stolen base in Michigan State’s 15-3 win in the series and season-opener on Feb. 14.
Kelley led the team with the longest hitting streak of the season, getting a hit in the first 13 games of the season, before going hitless in game 14, but had a hit in the 15th game, giving him at least one hit in 14 of the 15 games of the season. He also shared the team-lead with reaching base in all 15 games, joining Peterson.
• Peterson, a native of Grandville, Michigan, was voted to receive the John Kobs Most Valuable Player Award, while also earning the Kirk Gibson Offensive Player of the Year Award as part of the MSU Team Awards after the shortened 2020 season. He played and started in all 15 games, one of only two Spartans to start in every game, along with Bryce Kelley and was one of only three players to play in all 15 contests, along with Kelley and Peter Ahn. He led team and ranked second in the Big Ten and tied for 22nd in the NCAA with a .441 average, also ranking second in the Big Ten and 35th in the NCAA with a .528 on-base percentage and second on the team and 15th in the league with a .542 slugging percentage. He also led MSU, while ranking second in the B1G and tied for 35th in NCAA with 26 hits. Peterson also shared the team and Big Ten lead in stolen bases with Kelley, swiping eight bags, ranking tied for 45th in the NCAA, which also ranked tied for second in conference and tied for 44th in country with 0.53 stolen bases/game.
Additionally, Peterson tied for the team-lead and tied for eighth in B1G with 15 RBI, while ranking tied for ninth in league with 1.0 RBI/game. Defensively, Peterson started all 15 games at second base, making 35 putouts and 21 assists, and led team being a part of five double plays.
• Michigan State is cuing up the James Taylor tune again this season, as the Spartans opened the 2021 season with back-to-back weekend trips to the Palmetto State for the Spartans this season in their annual trip to Greenville.

• The Green & White took on Maryland in four games in the opening weekend of the season March 5-7, then played Northwestern in a four-game series back at Fluor Field on March 12-14.
• Michigan State returns home to host Penn State and Purdue in the East Lansing Pod, Friday-Monday, April 9-12 … MSU will host Penn State on Friday at 3:05 p.m. and Saturday at 12:05 p.m., before playing Purdue on Sunday at 4:05 p.m. and wrapping up the extended weekend on Monday at 3:05 p.m.


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