Minnesota goes to Michigan State for first games between teams since 2003

The Gophers and Spartans last played at Siebert Field in March 2003.

by Robert Mews

Minnesota and Michigan State don’t know much about each other.

The Gophers (18-15, 6-6 Big Ten) will face the Spartans (17-16, 6-6 Big Ten) this weekend in East Lansing, Mich., for the first time since 2003. Many of the players weren’t in college then.

First baseman and senior Andy Hunter, who was just a freshman at that time, said playing Michigan State will be a little like playing a nonconference opponent.

“It’s a little bit different because we have so much information on every other Big Ten team we play,” he said. “We’re just going to be kind of learning on the fly and seeing what we get.”

Hunter also added that the team will be relying on scouting reports and stats to learn about the Spartans tendencies.

Outfielder Mike Mee said that not knowing the other team will not necessarily make a difference.

“We’re just going to go out and try to play good baseball,” he said. “Hopefully we can come home with a series win.”

In order to do so, Minnesota’s pitchers will have to face a barrage of left-handed hitters.

“The park favors the left-handed hitter,” coach John Anderson said.

He also said Minnesota has added left-handed pitcher Kyle Carr to have more left-handed pitchers. Having more lefties in the bullpen will help the Gophers face the left-handed batters.

Overall, the Michigan State hitters are hitting .315 – good for third in the Big Ten.

Minnesota’s pitching is tops in the Big Ten with a 3.55 earned run average.

On the other side, Minnesota’s hitting in second to last in the Big Ten at .258. However, the hitting has been steadily improving over the past week.

“I think we were a little bit passive there for a little bit trying a little too hard not to make a mistake,” Mee said. “I think we’ve been a little bit more aggressive.”

Hunter said the same.

“Guys are trying to settle into roles,” he said. “Every day we would play, it would be a different guy at a different spot and these past couple of weeks, it’s been a little bit more predicable.”

Anderson has been using more predictable lineups as of late, but as Anderson said last weekend, he’s one to change lineups.

It could be no different this weekend. But with the short left-field wall and the Spartans having a limited number of lefties in the bullpen, Anderson could well send more left-handed batters to the plate.

“I think you need left-handed hitting and left-handed pitching there,” Anderson said.