This weekend of Big Ten baseball will feature a matchup between the conference’s best team in recent years and one of the conference’s worst programs.
IU, 25-12 overall, leads the Big Ten in total and conference wins since 2008 and comes into this weekend sitting in second place in the conference standings with a 7-2 record.
Meanwhile, Michigan State has not had a conference record above .500 since 2016.
Here are three things to know before the series begins Friday in East Lansing, Michigan.
1. IU’s starting rotation is rolling.
IU comes into the weekend riding an eight-game winning streak, and the starting pitching is a large part of that.
Senior Pauly Milto will get the nod Friday as he usually does. The team’s ace has an earned run average less than two this season. Milto has pitched at least six innings in all nine starts this season and has given up just one run in his last two starts combined. In three Big Ten starts this season, he has given up a total of four earned runs.
Junior Tanner Gordon has started to get into a flow since transferring to IU and has been impressive recently. Since March 16, Gordon has pitched at least seven innings in four of his five Saturday starts.
On Sunday, the Hoosiers will send out junior Andrew Saalfrank. While struggling with consistency early on, Saalfrank has claimed the Sunday slot after sophomore Tommy Sommer was forced to miss time with a torn meniscus. Saalfrank has struck out 53 batters in his last five starts.
2. Matt Gorski appears to be back to his usual self.
Junior outfielder Matt Gorski has been a candidate for Big Ten Player of the Year from the moment the season began, and he has shown why.
Gorski had a stretch in early April where he struggled to string together hits, but IU Coach Jeff Mercer said he was not worried. After the team’s win Tuesday night against Ball State University, Mercer said he felt Gorski was making good contact and hitting the ball up the middle, but the ball just wouldn’t drop.
However, Gorski flashed his skills against Ball State when he sent a grand slam over the scoreboard in Bart Kaufman Field. He is now hitting .276 with nine home runs and 31 runs batted in.
3. Michigan State has not won a Big Ten game.
The Spartans come into the weekend with a 0-8 record in the Big Ten.
Junior Bryce Kelley is the only player for MSU hitting above .300 in conference games this season. However, he has not been able to bring much run production with his teammates struggling. Despite the .313 batting average in Big Ten games, Kelley has no home runs or runs batted in against conference foes.
Sophomore Mason Erla is the best arm for the Spartans since he has an ERA of three against Big Ten teams. Behind him, no starter has an ERA below six.
Michigan State is No. 187 in the RPI standings while IU is No. 21, according to D1Baseball.
First pitch is at 6:35 p.m. Friday, 4:05 p.m. Saturday and 1:05 p.m. Sunday.
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