Apr 29, 2012

Garner Tosses Complete Game As Spartans Shut Out No.13 Purdue

MSU Baseball Facebook Page

 By Sean Gagnier

Spartans pitcher David Garner took things into his own hands on Sunday when he threw a complete game shutout, while fanning seven to lead his Spartans to a 5-0 win over the No. 13 Purdue Boilermakers.

During the nine innings that Garner was on the mound, he allowed just five Purdue hits - impressive as Purdue entered Sunday as the third best batting team in the country. The shutout was the first the Boilermakers suffered this season.

The win was Garner's first complete game of his career and the second in three days for Spartans pitching. Tony Bucciferro threw eight innings against Purdue on Friday in Michigan State's 6-2 loss that day. Sunday's win allowed the Spartans to avoid the sweep by the Boilermakers who won in walk-off fashion in the 14th inning Saturday night.

Michigan State got on the board first in the fourth inning when Torsten Boss, Ryan Krill and Justin Scanlon all contributed RBI singles to the effort. The three runs would be all Garner would need as he did not allow a runner to reach base on balls and surrendered just two hits in the final four innings of the game.

The Spartans would tack on two more runs in the eighth and ninth innings, with Jared Hook hitting an RBI single in the eighth and Scanlon with his own RBI single in the ninth. 

No. 13 Purdue Takes First Two Games From Spartans

MSU Baseball Facebook Page

By Sean Gagnier

The Spartan baseball team traveled to West Lafayette, Ind. to take on No. 13 Purdue in a three-game weekend series. First on the mound for the Spartans was Tony Bucciferro, the ace of the staff, and despite giving Michigan State a complete game in the first game of the series, the Spartans fell 6-2. On Saturday, the Spartans lost a 14-inning heart breaker to the Boilermakers, 4-3.


Michigan State went up against Purdue's ace, Joe Haase, who improved to 7-0 on the season, allowing just one run and maintaining his perfect record. Haase gave the Boilermakers seven innings of work while giving up six hits and fanning three. 

In Bucciferro's eight-inning outing he scattered eight Boilermaker hits, while allowing six runs, four earned. Purdue struck big in the fourth inning when RF Barrett Sarrato turned on a Bucciferro pitch and sent the ball over the fences for a grand slam - erasing the one-run lead the Spartans had and putting the Boilermakers up 4-1.

Two unearned Boilermaker runs came across in the seventh inning to extend their lead to 6-1. With the win Purdue improved it's nation-leading winning percentage to .846 and their record to 33-6. Michigan State failed to scratch across another run until the ninth inning when they loaded the bases with no outs.

With the bases loaded and no one out the Spartans bounced into a double play, which allowed a run to score but all but put the nail in the Spartans coffin. 

Jordan Keur improved his team-leading batting average to .406, by going 2-for-4 and being the only Spartan with more than one hit.


The Spartans were in familiar territory on Saturday when they took the Purdue Boilermakers into 14 innings, but for the first time in seven attempts, Michigan State did not come out on top in the extra inning match-up, falling to Purdue, 4-3.

Both pitchers were on their game on Saturday - with a pitchers duel going on, the Spartans did not score until they were able to get three in the eighth inning. Torsten Boss cleared the bases with two outs in the top of the eighth for the Spartans when he took a pitch and drove it into the gap.

Andrew Waszak was on the mound for the Spartans and went 7.2 innings, exiting in the eighth inning having allowed just one run on the day. Waszak was in line for the win with closer Tony Wieber on the mound with a 0.94 ERA. But Wieber didn't seem to have it on Saturday.

With one out in the ninth, Wieber loaded the bases, but after getting a fly out for the second out of the inning, a clutch hit plated the two tying runs, tying the game a three and sending it into extras. The Spartans threatened but did not score in the 11th inning when they squandered a Ryan Jones single and Torsten Boss reaching on an error with no outs.

Purdue took home the win in the 14th when Tyler Spillner was able to reach first base on a fielding error by Jones. The next batter, Eric Charles, got on first on a throwing error by Boss. With men on first and second, a wild pitch moved them each up 90-ft. Cameron Perkins then singled to right field to score Spillner and win the game for the Boilermakers, 4-3.

Apr 23, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: A look at this and past year's classes from Michigan State

By Adam Biggers

The Michigan State Spartans have put forth a solid class entering Thursday's 2012 NFL Draft.

Most notable is quarterback Kirk Cousins, who owns nearly every quarterback-related at Michigan State. Of course, Jerel Worthy could be the first taken, but don't forget about talented receivers like Keith Nichol, Keshawn Martin and B.J. Cunningham, along with tight ends Garrett Celek and Brian Linthicum.

Running back Edwin Baker declared early, and safety Trenton Robinson could be a late-rounder, further adding to a solid group which could see at least four drafted by a pro team.

As the Spartans continue their climb up the NCAA football ranks, surely, there will be more players considered for the draft. Since 2008, Michigan State hasn't had more than three athletes taken in a single year.

Since this year's class seems to be the deepest, it's only logical to take a look back at some of the sturdiest classes in recent history while also highlighting some of the better players in memory.

The 2005 class was arguably one of Michigan State's best of the decade, at least in terms of sheer numbers. Four players were selected that year: running back Deandra Cobb was taken in the sixth round by the Atlanta Falcons, while kicker Dave Rayner was taken the same round by the Indianapolis Colts.

The Miami Dolphins selected defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson in the seventh round, and the Green Bay Packers took guard William Whittaker later in the seventh.

Other noteworthy draftees include Javon Ringer, who was taken by the Tennessee Titans in the fifth round of the 2009 draft. Ringer still sees back-up duties behind Chris Johnson.

[Follow this link to see every NCAA school's draft history. Programs are listed in alphabetical order.]

Devin Thomas was a part of the New York Giants' Super Bowl XLVI team this season and has had a productive NFL career. He was one of the Spartans' most exciting receivers -- a great threat in open space with a set of incredible hands. He was drafted by the Washington Redskins in the second round of the 2008 draft.

Other than Thomas, Drew Stanton has been Michigan State's earliest player taken in recent years. Thomas was the third pick of the second round in 2008, while Stanton, who now plays for the Indianapolis Colts, was the 11th player taken in the second round of the 2007 draft.

Stanton -- one of Michigan State's elite -- was drafted by the hometown Detroit Lions and made his way to the New York Jets. But he then asked to be moved to Indianapolis after Tim Tebow bumped him out the No. 2 role behind Mark Sanchez.

Check back for more Spartans-related NFL Draft notes and analysis throughout the week.

Apr 22, 2012

Jerel Worthy could be Michigan State's first 1st-round NFL Draft pick since 2003

Photo: Associated Press -- Jerel Worthy never lost to Michigan. That's not really important when it comes to draft talk, just a reminder.

By Adam Biggers

The Michigan State Spartans haven't had more than two players taken in the NFL Draft since 2008. And perhaps more interesting is the fact that they haven't had a player taken in the first round since 2003, when the Detroit Lions selected wide receiver Charles Rogers with the No. 2 pick.

Well, starting Thursday, the Spartans could see at least four (maybe up to six) players taken in the 2012 NFL Draft. More importantly, Michigan State could see one of its own go in the first round: defensive tackle Jerel Worthy.

Now, Worthy didn't blow away the competition during the NFL Combine. However, he's ranked 22nd in Scout's top players available and ranked the No. 2 defensive tackle behind Mississippi State's Fletcher Cox.

Initially, Worthy was thought of as an early second-round pick. But he's slated to go in the first round, according to a handful of mock drafts.

Worthy, who would be a senior come fall, was an incredibly aggressive and reliable defender at Michigan State. He had a spectacular sophomore year and followed up with a solid junior year, in which he was named an All-American. Worthy started 38 times at defensive tackle and made 107 tackles -- 27.5 for a loss, which is 13th in school history. His 12 sacks are the 12th-most in Spartans history.

When looking at other Spartans in this year's draft, it's almost certain that Worthy -- who combined for six tackles in three wins over Michigan -- will be the first taken. Although it's uncertain if he's a shoo-in first-rounder, he'll probably be selected before teammates Kirk Cousins, BJ Cunningham, Keshawn Martin, Trenton Robinson and Edwin Baker.

Keith Nichol, Brian Linthicum and Garrett Celek are also eligible for the draft.

Stay tuned for more NFL Draft coverage from Gang Green, the Oakland Press' No. 1 MSU blog (or so we'd like to think).

Spartans Baseball Take Two of Three Against Minnesota

MSU Baseball
By Sean Gagnier
After a rain soaked Friday forced a double header on Saturday the Spartans and Golden Gophers of Minnesota split the twin billing with Michigan State winning on a walk-off in game one before having their five game winning streak snapped in game two. On Sunday, the Spartans shook off their loss and beat the Gophers in the 10th inning on a Torsten Boss walk-off allowing the Spartans to win two out of three games on the weekend.

Saturday - Double Header

The first game of the double header featured some of the best pitchers, starting and relievers, in the Big Ten. Michigan State had Tony Bucciferro on the mound going against Minnesota's TJ Oakes. Oakes entered the game ranked No. 1 in the Big Ten in ERA, IP and wins.

Minnesota struck first in the game when they strung together three hits in the first inning and were able to plate a runner, but the Spartans Jordan Keur tied things up in the bottom of the third inning with an RBI single.

Michigan State got to Oakes in the fifth with two outs when Ryan Jones singled to center field and was able to scamper around the bases and score on a Boss double to left field. After a shaky first inning, Bucciferro was able to toss four scoreless innings for the Spartans, allowing them to get out to a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning.

The Gophers tied the game at two in the sixth when catcher Matt Halloran singled in a run. Minnesota was able to chase Bucciferro from the game in the seventh when they loaded the bases with two outs. Spartans coach Jake Boss, Jr. gave the ball to Jeff Kinley to get his team out of the jam. Kinley did his job and got the next batter to ground out to end the inning.

Oakes also left after throwing 6.2 innings; he left runners on first and second with two outs for his reliever who was able to get Boss to pop out to end the threat.

Kinley and Gophers reliever Tom Windle both continued the pitchers duel into the 11th inning when Joel Fisher singled with two outs to put Spartans on first and third. Minnesota turned to their closer Kevin Kray to stop the rally but he walked Jones, loading the bases. Then Boss was able to draw a five pitch walk that forced in the game winning run.

The win was the Spartans third walk-off of the season, the fifth win of the season for Kinley and expanded Michigan State's extra innings record to 5-0.

Game two did not go the Spartans way. Michigan State, looking for their sixth win in a row, jumped out to a early 1-0 lead in the first inning. Ryan Krill, continued to shine in his freshman season when he drove in an RBI in the first with a ground out. The Spartans struggled to bring runners home in the early innings, leaving four runners on in the first two innings.

Krill's RBI would be the only run the Spartans would get until in the late game as they struggled to get anything going against Minnesota's DJ Snelton. The Gophers would bounce back in the second inning and plate two runners before adding two more in the fifth to take a 4-1 lead.

After a shaky first two innings Snelton settled in and faced the minimum through the next four innings. In the seventh the Spartans were able to scratch across another run when Jimmy Pickens was able to ground out to the right side of the infield.

Snelton completed the game, his first of the season, while throwing 121 pitches, allowing seven hits and fanning three. His counterpart, Andrew Waszak allowed just four runs through 5.2 innings, but his offense wasn't able to bail him out and he suffered his third loss of the season, making his record 4-3.


In another extra innings game, the Spartans counted on Torsten Boss once again as he drove in the winning run on an RBI single to lift Michigan State over Minnesota in the rubber match of the series by a score of 5-4.

Extra innings have been good to the Spartans this year, with Sunday's victory being the fourth walk-off win of the season and second of the series for the Spartans. Michigan State's bats were hot on Sunday, racking up 15 hits, lead by Jordan Keur who matched a career high four hits on the day.

Minnesota scored twice in the eighth to tie the game at four, then Michigan State loaded the bases with no outs for the second straight inning, but came up short in both instances. Jimmy Pickens attempted to break the tie with two outs in the eighth when he made a break for the plate on a fly ball to center, but Gopher's center fielder Jake Bergren cut him down at the plate to end the inning.

In the 10th inning the Spartans once again filled the bases with no one out when Pickens launched a deep hit to right-center field, but as he was rounding first base he ran into Gophers first baseman Dan Olinger. The collision with Olinger sent Pickens stumbling but he was able to round second base and dig for third where he was thrown out. The umpires called Olinger for interference however, and awarded Pickens third base on the play.

Joel Fisher hit a hard liner between the shortstop and third baseman, but Gophers SS Matt Puhl was able to knock it down before it got out of the infield and held Pickens at third while Fisher reached first on the infield hit. In the next at bat, Ryan Jones was able to hit a pop up that dropped just in front of the Minnesota left fielder; it allowed Fisher to advance to second and Jones to reach first but was not deep enough to score Pickens.

With the bases loaded and no outs Boss stepped to the plate. He had worked a five pitch walk to score the game-winning run in the first game of the double header on Saturday and now he looked to do the same. On the first pitch Boss saw he connected with it and drove it to left-center field to score Pickens and give Michigan State the 5-4 win.

Great news: Michigan State center Adreian Payne is 'OK' after car crash

Photo: Associated Press -- Adreian Payne dunks in Michigan State's Carrier Classic loss to North Carolina.

By Adam Biggers

Michigan State Spartans basketball center Adreian Payne is OK after being involved in a car accident Friday in Ohio, reports MLive.com's Diamond Leung.

According to the article, Payne posted a photo to his Twitter account after the accident which reportedly took place on Interstate 70, adding that "God is real," to add context to the severity of the collision.

"I should not be here," Payne wrote on his Twitter account, according to MLive.com. "God blessed me. I was in a car accident someone hit me on the highway..."

Leung's report says that a deer caused the accident, relaying information obtained from a Montgomery (Ohio) County dispatcher.

Considering the consequences of deer-related highway crashes, it's safe to say that Payne was indeed lucky to escape unharmed -- or, at the very least, significantly injured. Deer plus speedy highway travel usually doesn't have a happy ending. We at Gang Green would like to wish Payne well. 

Apr 19, 2012

Quotable gems from Michigan State Spartans football coach Mark Dantonio

 Photo -- Associated Press: Michigan State's Mark Dantonio has never been short on great Michigan-related quotes. Never. Not once.

By Adam Biggers

Honestly, I can't take full credit for the following. MLive.com's Graham Couch did a wonderful job of gathering Michigan Wolverines-related quotes from Michigan State Spartans coach Mark Dantonio.

However, after Dantonio's gem yesterday, implying he's not threatened by Michigan, I started thinking of all the uber-quotable phrases from the Spartans' sixth-year coach.

Dantonio has never been one to take obvious, hate-filled shots at Michigan. He's more or less subtle and witty while doing it -- until yesterday, of course. But even then, his words weren't out of line. They were great for the rivalry.

I can remember the escalating confidence Dantonio displayed since his first win over Michigan: A 35-21 romping in Ann Arbor in 2008. Dantonio was even optimistic after a four-point loss to Michigan (28-24) in 2007.

Here's a look at Dantonio's Wolverines-related phrases. Of course, Couch beat me to the punch -- so kudos to him. But if you follow Michigan State football, Dantonio's words about Michigan likely linger in your mind.

From Couch's latest Michigan State post: (Thanks, Graham). I took the liberty of explaining the quotes/adding context for further clarification. The direct quotes from Couch's post are italicized.

Nov. 3, 2007: "Let's just remember, pride comes before the fall," Dantonio said, repeating the phrase, shortly after Michigan's 28-24 win at Spartan Stadium in his first season as Michigan State's coach.

"This game is an important game. If they want to mock us all they want to mock us, I'm telling 'em, it's not over. … It's not over and it'll never be over here ... It's just starting."

[2007 was Michigan's sixth consecutive win over Michigan State.]

Oct. 25, 2008: "I'll go on the record as saying this one counts as more than one," Dantonio said after the Spartans' 35-21 win in Ann Arbor. "We took a step forward in the eyes of the people in Michigan and toward changing the culture in this state."

[The win in Ann Arbor was Michigan State's first since 1990.]

Oct. 3, 2009: "We did something that hasn't been done in 42 years," Dantonio said after Michigan State's 26-20 overtime win in East Lansing, its first back-to-back wins over Michigan since the late 1960s. "That's amazing. But facts are facts. This game has a way of defining you."

[Dantonio was referring to Michigan State's first back-to-back victory over Michigan since 1965-66. The Spartans went on to post their third straight in 1967.]

Oct. 9, 2010: "The only response I have is maybe some day the little brother grows up," Dantonio said after a 34-17 victory at the Big House, referencing former Wolverine running back Mike Hart's now famous line following Michigan's 2007 win over the Spartans. This was also Dantonio's first game back after his heart attack suffered three weeks earlier.

[Dantonio was referring to former Michigan star running back Mike Hart's "Little Brother" comment, directed toward Michigan State, which Hart viewed as a little brother struggling to compete with his big brother. The victory was Michigan State's third consecutive, a feat it hadn't achieved since 1965-67.]

Oct. 15, 2011: "Times have changed," Dantonio said, closing a brief postgame live television interview on the field after Michigan State' 28-14 win in East Lansing, its fourth straight against Michigan.

[Michigan State posted its fourth consecutive win over Michigan for the first time since 1959-62. Dantonio believed that win showed Michigan State wasn't lucky in winning four in a row, but that Michigan State was indeed the state's best program.]

Connor Cook will get shot to impress Michigan State coaches as QB Andrew Maxwell nurses knee

Photo: MSUSpartans.com -- Connor Cook will have his chance to impress Michigan State coaches while starter Andrew Maxwell rests a sprained knee.

By Adam Biggers

Michigan State Spartans football followers may not be all that familiar with Connor Cook. But they will be April 28 during the team's Spring Game in East Lansing.

Cook, a redshirt freshman, will run both offenses in the spring scrimmage, according to a report, now that starter Andrew Maxwell is out with a sprained knee.

So, who is Cook?

He was virtually an unknown last year as Kirk Cousins starred at Michigan State, and the excess attention was focused on Maxwell, his heir to the position. Only the ardent Michigan State followers were aware of Cook, a talented third-stringer.

Cook was the Spartans scout team's Most Valuable Player on offense in 2011 during the week of the Minnesota game. He was ranked as the No. 9 pro-style quarterback by Rivals.com during his senior year at Walsh Jesuit in Hinckley, Ohio.

The 6-foot-4, 215-pound frosh may not be the starter come fall, but he doesn't plan to give Spartans coaches any reason to doubt his abilities. Although his teammate is down, Cook doesn't plan to just fill in.

"This just gives me the opportunity to work with the 1s and prove to the coaches that I can compete and I can be the No. 1 quarterback," Cook told MLive.com.

According to William Gholston, Cook is a strong competitor with an accurate arm. Maxwell may be the No. 1 for now, but Gholston says Cook isn't exactly a slouch.

"I wouldn't sleep on him," Gholston said. "He has a great arm, is a team guy. I hit him a lot. He gets back up, shakes my hand."

Maxwell's injury is unfortunate. However, it does give another player to showcase his skills. Granted, the current scenario probably isn't what Cook imagined, but it's now his job to compete for. We'll probably see Maxwell in August. But Gholston said it best with his "I wouldn't sleep on him" comment.

At the very least, the frequent reps will have Cook prepared if Michigan State needs him down the road. Some back-ups are sideline props, a far distant second to the starter. Having two guys ready to go will add another dimension to the Spartans offense.

Apr 18, 2012

Michigan State Spartans recruiting 8th-grade basketball phenom, says report

By Adam Biggers

According to a USA Today report, the Michigan State Spartans are among a handful of Big Ten teams interested in Indianapolis-area 8th-grade star basketball player Eron Gordon, the younger brother of former Indiana Hoosiers star Eric Gordon.

Eron Gordon was reportedly offered a scholarship Sunday by Hoosiers coach Tom Crean, but plans to take a visit to Purdue, the report says.

The Spartans haven't offered Eron Gordon, but the USA Today report lists the Spartans, along with Michigan, Xavier, Ohio State and Wisconsin, as programs interested in the 6-foot-1 adolescent star-in-the-making.

Someone call Lane Kiffin.

Michigan State has won four in a row over Michigan, Spartans coach Mark Dantonio asks where's the threat?

Photo: Associated Press -- Michigan State Spartans football coach Mark Dantonio doesn't seem the least bit intimidated by the Michigan Wolverines.

By Adam Biggers

The 2012 NCAA football season's kickoff is months away. The Michigan State Spartans haven't even played their Spring Game, and the Michigan Wolverines played theirs this past weekend.

But all of that aside lies one gleaming, beyond-interesting fact about the two programs: Michigan State has won four in a row. Michigan, except in a 26-20 overtime loss in 2009, hasn't even been all that competitive during its losing trend.

Now, there is no denying Michigan's historical domination (67-32-5) over Michigan State, which hasn't rattled off such a winning streak since 1959-62. But, the here and now suggests that the Spartans, who are reloading after losing several key components to graduation and the NFL Draft, are by in large the state's top college football team.

Sugar Bowl or not, the Spartans have yet to bow to Michigan since 2007. And that might not change any time soon, according to Spartans coach Mark Dantonio.

"We're laying in the weeds," Dantonio told ESPN. "We've beat Michigan the last four years. So where's the threat?"

Golden. Absolutely golden. There is nothing better than a dagger-like comment months prior to the football season to get things rolling. And for those keeping track, the Spartans and Wolverines play Oct. 20 at The Big House in Ann Arbor.

It's almost unfair for Dantonio to drop such a gem so early. His quote will be ingrained in the minds of Michigan coach Brady Hoke until that storied Saturday rolls around.

Some may take Dantonio's comment as being overconfident. He's never been one to hold back while talking about Michigan. We all remember his rebuttal to former Michigan star Mike Hart's "Little Brother" comment, in which Dantonio remarked about Hart's height, implying that he was "little."

It gets nasty, but in a spirited, fan-friendly, we-don't-like-you sort of way. The comments are great for the rivalry, which is rapidly coming to a head. Both basketball programs are Big Ten Conference title contenders, and the same goes for the football teams.

Michigan State Spartans basketball coach Tom Izzo said it best: "A rivalry is a rivalry if both teams are real good or both teams are real bad. It's been kind of a roller coaster for both teams in some ways."

The football rivalry is more important, at least lately. For years, the Wolverines owned the Spartans on the field, posting several lopsided victories. But during its last winning streak of six, Michigan was challenged -- at least in four of those games. From 2002-2007, Michigan won by a touchdown -- touchdown plus conversion (45-37 in 2004) -- or less in all but two games: 2002's 49-3 win and 2006's 31-13 victory.

Michigan isn't the same Michigan it was under Rich Rodriguez. One can sense the urgency -- Hoke's desire to restore the traditional roar of the Wolverines. But Michigan State is no longer a doormat in the Big Ten, it's not Michigan's "Little Brother" and it's not settling for four wins in a row.

Apr 17, 2012

MSU Spartans lose DT Jerel Worthy but have Anthony Rashad White ready to go

Photo: Michigan State Athletics (MSUSpartans.com) -- Anthony Rashad White sounds eager to fill the void DT Jerel Worthy left after declaring for the NFL Draft.

By Adam Biggers

The Michigan State Spartans' defense flourished in 2011. It was one of the best in the nation against the run (137 yards, 78th-ranked), and one of the stingiest in terms of points allowed (about 18, 10th-ranked). While the secondary was certainly part of that transformation and success, the front line could have been all the more valuable.

And who was on the front line leading the way? Junior Jerel Worthy, who opted to skip his final year in East Lansing and enter the 2012 NFL Draft. He's a likely first-round pick. It was without a doubt the right choice.

However, Worthy's absence leaves questions. One of the largest looming is who will replace him at defensive tackle. Tyler Hoover comes to mind, but according to a report, that player could be Anthony Rashad White, who enters his second season at Michigan State.

Worthy, a 6-foot-3, 310-pound tackle, was known for a great anti-Michigan tattoo and an affinity for making the most on the pass-rush. He had 30 tackles in 2011, including five in the Spartans' 33-30 Outback Bowl win over Georgia. He finished the year with 3.5 sacks and served as a prime example for the younger defensive linemen to follow.

Players like Worthy don't come around often. There is no doubt that Michigan State will have a difficult task replacing him. But it sounds like there is at least one ready to pick up where Worthy left off.

"Losing Jerel, that's a big thing," White said in a recent interview. "But (he and I) already discussed, 'You're not losing anybody, because it's your turn.' He said I need to step up and take control of the D-line. And I think we're going to be great next year. He's a great player and he's taught me a lot, also."

White missed four games in 2011, but don't forget what he did while he was on the field. Just as important as Worthy in the Outback Bowl, White had seven tackles that came in handy as Michigan State won its first bowl game under coach Mark Dantonio.

It will be important for White to brush up on technique. Following Worthy will present its own challenges as well. More will be answered April 28, in theory, when the Spartans take the field for their annual Spring Game in East Lansing. White, according to Dantonio, will be an important cog of a defense that should be "pretty good."

2013 Rose Bowl? Michigan State QB Andrew Maxwell confident team has 'pieces in place' to reach Pasadena

Photo: MLive.com -- Andrew Maxwell has a calm, cool demeanor heading into the spring game and 2012 football season.

By Adam Biggers

Andrew Maxwell sounds all the more confident during each interview. And that's a great sign, considering he had just 26 pass attempts last season as the Michigan State Spartans' back-up signal-caller.

The former Midland High star seemingly has things figured out. It's been well-documented that former Spartans star quarterback Kirk Cousins has been impressed with Maxwell. In fact, Cousins has said numerous times that Maxwell is "further along" than he was at the same point.

The Spartans' 2012 season could end up being a case of addition by subtraction. For one, losing several key receivers in Keith Nichol, Keshawn Martin and B.J. Cunningham will surely take its toll on Michigan State, which was one win away from a Rose Bowl-berth a year ago.

However, while there are pieces that will be missed, there are means to replace, keeping Michigan State near the top of the Big Ten Conference -- and enough talent to make a run to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, the Grand Daddy of Them All.

"I feel like we have all the pieces in place," Maxwell told ESPN. "You look at our defense, returning a lot of guys from a really successful defense last year. We've got great depth at O-line, we've got great depth at receiver and running back. Our goals are just climbing every year. Those are attainable, those are reaching and that's what we're shooting for."

Now, the depth at wide receiver Maxwell speaks of is indeed there. However, that depth isn't necessarily experienced. Receivers like Bennie Fowler and Keith Mumphrey jump out as the only players with any game experience to speak of. But the addition of Jeremy Langford to the fold adds athleticism. The sophomore reportedly ran a 4.3-second 40-yard dash, a speed that will make him useful at the wideout slot, as well as at running back.

That has to be encouraging to Maxwell, who doesn't stand to inherit a group with as much perceived talent as Cousins did -- Mark Dell, Cunningham, and others.

In the same interview with ESPN, Maxwell praised the wide receivers corps for its work ethic. But while there are plenty of talented wideouts waiting in the wings, Maxwell stressed the Spartans' success will be determined on how quickly the group's continuity materializes.

"It's a work in progress, but we've got all the talent in the world at that position," Maxwell said. "They've got all the tools, they've got all the skills to be the playmakers we've had in the past. With so many guys vying for spots, it's just going to bring competition to practice. That's going to make the coaches pick the best ones to put on the field."

A new role on the team is a daunting task for anyone to undertake. And accompanied by the losses of arguably one of the best stable of receivers in recent history, the Spartans offense will be interesting to monitor during April 28's Spring Game in East Lansing. That offense will also be under close watch as the season begins this fall. Can it re-tool itself back to a potent scoring machine?

Maxwell seems to think so. And he's not the least bit shaky when saying it, either.

"I feel prepared. I feel prepared because I learned behind a great guy like Kirk (Cousins), arguably the best quarterback in Michigan State history," Maxwell said. "I couldn't pick a better guy to sit behind for three years and learn. Not only learning behind him, but the coaching staff and the support they've given. All that combined just leads to a pretty confident feeling."

He's inexperienced, sure. But Maxwell knows the offense and has strong ties with teammates. That alone gives him a leg up; he's not treading into unfamiliar territory.

"I feel like it will be a smooth transition," Maxwell said. "Not only because I've been here for a while, but because I've built a relationship with guys on this team. I'm not a new face around the building, I'm not a new face in the locker room. I feel like the relationships I've been, the bridges I've built with those guys are going to help me be effective as a leader and a player."

Apr 16, 2012

Spartans' Waszak and Krill Take Home Big Ten Honors

The State News
By Sean Gagnier

The Big Ten Baseball Awards came out for the week and two Spartans earned honors. Junior right-hander Andrew Waszak was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week and Ryan Krill was named Freshman of the Week honors from the Big Ten.

Waszak's performance in the first game of a double header on Sunday earned him his award. On Sunday Waszak threw seven scoreless innings while allowing just three hits against Indiana. Michigan State beat the Hoosiers in Waszak's start, due to his career-high five strike outs. The Spartans won 6-0 on Sunday.

With the win on Sunday Waszak improved his record to 4-2, it was also his eighth quality start of the season. Waszak ranks second in the Big Ten in ERA with a 1.82 mark and holds the lead in the conference with a .191 batting average against. His four wins has him tied for tenth in the Big Ten while his 59.1 innings pitched places him seventh.

Krill tore up pitching the past week, going 13-for-21, or .691 BA in the five games last week. On Tuesday against Notre Dame Krill went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run before racking up three hits and two RBI the following day against Eastern Michigan.

The weekend series with Indiana is where Krill really shined. During the series he hit .643, getting three hits in each of the three games. On Sunday, Krill went 3-for-4 and scored two runs in game one and went 3-for-6 in game two with four runs and two RBI.

With his efforts on the week Krill bumped his season batting average to .305 and is tied at fourth on the team in slugging at .421. The freshman has started 19 games at first base and four as designated hitter and has seen action in 31 games this season.

Spartans Sweep Doubleheader Against Indiana

By Sean Gagnier

After a rain out on Saturday the Spartans and Hoosiers met up on Sunday for a double header in which Michigan State came out the victor in both games. Michigan State finished the weekend in Bloomington, Ind. with the sweep of the double header to take the series, 2-1.

The first game of the double header was a 6-0 shutout by the Spartans and the second was a 20-10 slugfest that went the way of Michigan State.

With the temperatures in the upper-70's the Spartans racked up season high runs, 20, and hits, 25, in game two of the double header. Ryan Jones led the charge in the 20-10 route by collecting five hits, tying a career high, after recording just one hit in the day's first game. His six hit day pushed him over the 200-hit mark, making him just the 15th Spartan to accomplish that feat. Jones' 204 current hits has him ranked 12th in the all-time school hits record books.

Jones was not the only player to pile up the hits, Ryan Krill and John Martinez both got to Hoosiers pitching for six hits apiece. Krill scored six times on the day and split his six hits with three in each bout. Martinez used one of his six hits for his first career home run in the first game and came away with 3 RBI and four runs on the day.

Not to be outdone, Jordan Keur added five hits to the Spartans totals on Sunday. His performance improved his team-best batting average to .392.

By the third inning of game two the Spartans had already recorded 15 hits and had driven 12 runs home. Indiana's starter did not finish the first inning after he allowed four runs to score. His replacement faired no better and was ran off the mound in the second when Michigan State tacked on five more runs.

Jimmy Pickens chipped in with a home run in the third inning to make it 13-0, his fourth homer of the season which now has him tied with Torsten Boss for the team lead. The Hoosiers would scratch across two runs in the fourth but Michigan State responded by scoring two of their own in the fifth to make the score 15-2.

A homer in the seventh and four more runs in the ninth gave the Spartans their season-high 20, and earned a win for starter David Garner. Garner gave up six runs, four earned, but struck out a career-high nine batters while giving up just nine hits and not walking a hitter.

The Hoosiers made a run late, scoring eight runs in the final three innings, but the Spartans lead was too much to overcome.

Overshadowed by the fireworks of the second game, Andrew Waszak earned his fourth win of the season while tossing seven innings of three hit ball. He struck out a season-high five hitters and walked just one while keeping the Hoosiers off the board.

Michigan State collected runs from Martinez's two-run home run to left center and a Jones tally after a wild pitch in the fourth. With the score 3-0 the Spartans would add three more in the eighth when they began the inning with four straight singles, highlighted by a two-run single by Justin Scanlon.

Jeff Kinley was called on to give Michigan State a two inning save and despite loading the bases in the ninth, was able to toss two scoreless. With only one out Kinley allowed three straight hits but was able to close out the game with a popout and a strikeout.

Apr 15, 2012

Hoosiers Walk-Off Against Spartans, 3-2

MSU Baseball Facebook Page
By Sean Gagnier

It wasn't the ending the Spartans had envisioned, Tony Wieber threw a wild pitch to the plate that allowed Indiana's Michael Basil to hustle the 90 ft to home to score the game-winning run. With Basil's intelligent play the Hoosiers beat the Spartans 3-2 on Friday night.

The game was billed to be a pitchers duel and Michigan State's Tony Bucciferro and Indiana's Joey DeNato proved to live up to that hype. Bucciferro, who lead the Big Ten in strikeouts heading into the game, gave the Spartans seven innings on the mound while surrendering just four hits, two runs and fanning seven.

DeNato, not to be outdone, also turned in seven innings of work while giving up two runs on seven hits.

The Hoosiers would score first when they got a solo shot from Dillon Dooney in the fourth to give them a 1-0 lead. Michigan State was able to answer in the fifth when a Justin Scanlon groundout scored Blaise Salter who had reached base on a double earlier in the inning.

In the bottom of the fifth Indiana would again grab the lead before the Spartans were able to drive home Ryan Jones who doubled to lead off the sixth inning.

With the game tied at two in the ninth, Michigan State threatened but did not score. Bases loaded and one out for Jordan Keur, who lined out to left field, but it wasn't deep enough to allow Anthony Cheky to score. Cheky took off down the third base line but was thrown out at home to end the inning.

Indiana also would threaten with the bases loaded in the ninth, but they are able to convert on the opportunity. With the bases loaded and two outs, Bryce Jenney was lifted for Wieber. Wieber was able to get a foul tip on his first pitch, but his second got past John Martinez and allowed Basil to score from third.

Saturday's game was postponed due to weather and the two teams were scheduled to play a double-header on Sunday.

Apr 13, 2012

Former Michigan State WR Charles Rogers threatens to murder his mother over $100K, says report

Photo: Joseph "Sippi" Tobianski, MLive.com -- Charles Rogers has been a bad boy... again. Could things get any worse for this guy? Probably.

By Adam Biggers

The Charles Rogers saga gets more unbelievable with each and every mishap.

The troubled former Michigan State Spartans star wide receiver and top draft pick of the NFL's Detroit Lions in 2003 reportedly threatened to kill his mother over $100,000, reports MLie.com's Andy Hoag.

Rogers, a former Saginaw High standout, was recently arraigned on five unrelated misdemeanor charges in a Saginaw court.

Hoag details information he obtained from a police report, which says Rogers conspired with a family member to kill his mother over the sum of money. Read it carefully, as it's quite lengthy and full of interesting tidbits that some may or may not care to know.

Below is Hoag's full report, which also outlines the laundry list of problems Rogers has had within the past decade or so. Thanks for the thorough report, Hoag. A very thorough report.

Charles Rogers, the former Saginaw High School star athlete and former Detroit Lions wide receiver, threatened to kill his mother if she didn't give him back $100,000, a police report alleges.

A multiple-page report written by a Michigan State Police trooper lays out how Rogers, 30, and his uncle, 51-year-old Ronie Rogers, came to face misdemeanor charges of making a malicious phone call to Cathy Rogers and conspiring to commit that crime March 5 and March 6.

Ronie Rogers on Thursday denied his role in the alleged incident and told The Saginaw News that he doesn't believe that his nephew was involved like Cathy Rogers told Coulter. Ronie Rogers appeared before Saginaw County District Judge A.T. Frank for a pre-trial hearing and continues to plead not guilty.

Charles Rogers, who surrendered to authorities last week, also has pleaded not guilty to the two charges and three other unrelated misdemeanors and is scheduled for a May 8 pre-trial hearing. The phone call and conspiracy charges both carry maximum penalties of six months in jail.

Charles Rogers told The Saginaw News at his arraignment that he had “no comment” regarding the charges and did not allow a reporter to finish a follow-up question regarding his mother. Cathy Rogers told The Saginaw News last week that she wants the News to leave her and her son alone.

The police report states that Cathy Rogers called police to report threatening phone calls from Charles Rogers, Ronie Rogers, and Ronie and Cathy's sister, Debbie Rogers. Cathy Rogers told the trooper that she was informed that Charles Rogers was in danger of losing his house and that after speaking to the individual who informed her of her son's troubles and telling him to call her son, she called her son herself and left him a voicemail message to determine whether the man called him, the report states.

Cathy Rogers told the trooper that her son then returned her call and began threatening her and demanding that she mind her own business, the report states. Cathy Rogers said that she then received a voicemail from Ronie Rogers, a voicemail from Debbie Rogers, and several voicemails from Charles Rogers, the report states.

The police report states that in a voicemail to his mother, Charles Rogers threatened to “blow her mouth out” and said that he was willing to do "the time” he would face as a result. The trooper wrote that she listened to the voicemail messages and that Charles Rogers identified himself.

The trooper wrote that she listened to the messages on March 6 and that the phone calls were made March 5. As the trooper was at Cathy Rogers' Bridgeport Township home, Charles Rogers called several more times, the report states. Each time, the trooper answered the phone, and Rogers hung up, the report states.

Cathy Rogers answered her son's call one time, and she told the trooper that her son said he was outside near her home, the report states. Police searched for Charles Rogers for 20 minutes but did not find him, the report states. Charles Rogers called again, the report states, and spoke with the trooper, who told him to stop calling his mother. Rogers indicated he understood but that he wanted his money back, the report states.

Trooper Jennifer Coulter wrote in her report that Rogers then left multiple voicemail messages on her office phone, indicating that he wanted his mother to return $100,000. An arbitrator in 2008 ordered Rogers to pay $8.5 million in signing bonus money back to the Lions for defaulting on his contract. That figure later was reduced to $6.1 million; it wasn't clear how much, if any, Rogers has repaid the organization.

Ronie Rogers told The Saginaw News that he believes Cathy Rogers “edited” both Charles Rogers' and Ronie Rogers' voicemail messages, either combining multiple messages together or taking portions out of context. Ronie Rogers said he believes that Charles Rogers never told his mother he was near her home because he was in the Detroit area at the time — also the reason Charles Rogers told Coulter he couldn't meet her at the state police Bridgeport Post, Ronie Rogers said.

Coulter's report states that she was able to match Ronie Rogers' voice in the messages when she met him in person, and that Ronie Rogers tells his sister to not involve herself in her son's business and that she “might just not make it out of this.” Ronie Rogers said he believes he may have made comments similar to that on the voicemail as long as five years ago, but that he did not leave his sister a voicemail on March 5. Ronie Rogers said he called his sister twice that night, speaking to her once for as little as 20 seconds before she hung up and not getting an answer the second time. Ronie Rogers said his phone indicated that he only made those two calls and that he didn't make the third call.

During his hearing Thursday, Ronie Rogers asked Frank, the judge, for a subpoena for Cathy Rogers' phone records. Ronie Rogers said he believes those records will prove that he did not leave the voicemail that day.
Frank said he believed Ronie Rogers' request was “reasonable” but said that he would order the production of the phone records at a later date, when the scheduled trial date is closer.

Coulter's report states that she and another trooper, whom Ronie Rogers says is Coulter's husband, traveled to Ronie Rogers' home at 102 Wisner in Saginaw to address the voicemail message. The report states that Ronie Rogers denied leaving a message and that he became “belligerent” when Coulter began playing the voicemail for him to hear. The police report states that Ronie Rogers demanded the troopers vacate his property and that he threatened Coulter.

Ronie Rogers told The Saginaw News that Coulter's claims are untrue and that he did not curse at or threaten her. Ronie Rogers questioned why, if he did threaten the trooper, Coulter's husband did not interfere in such a threat to his wife and why he was not arrested for threatening a police officer. Ronie Rogers surrendered to authorities after a warrant seeking his arrest on the two misdemeanors was signed.
The police report states that police were unable to locate Debbie Rogers, who did not threaten her sister but ordered her to not involve herself in Charles Rogers' business. Prosecutors have not charged Debbie Rogers with any crimes.

In addition to the charges from that incident, Charles Rogers is charged with possessing marijuana, possessing an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle, and operating a motor vehicle on a suspended or revoked license Dec. 2 at South Fayette and Dearborn in Saginaw. The charges stemmed from a traffic stop, and prosecutors also secured a warrant against Shaena S. Pershay, 27, also charging her with possessing an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle.

Pershay surrendered authorities April 5, the same day that Charles Rogers turned himself in. She pleaded guilty to the charge before Frank and was ordered to pay $167 in fines and court costs by May 5 or serve five days in jail. It was not immediately clear if she had paid the fine.

If convicted of the marijuana charge, Rogers would face up to a year in jail.

The December traffic stop was Rogers' third alcohol-related incident. Rogers pleaded guilty in September 2009 to operating a motor vehicle while visibly impaired after he was found passed out in his car in Novi, and in January 2010 was sentenced to 93 days in jail for contempt of court after passing out at a restaurant in Novi.

Rogers, who was a three-sport star at Saginaw High, excelled as a wide receiver at Michigan State University. He was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft, but his career was cut short by injuries and subsequent marijuana use.

Apr 12, 2012

Tom Izzo, Michigan State reinstates Derrick Nix to Spartans basketball team after marijuana-related issue

Photo -- Associated Press: Spartans senior-to-be Derrick Nix is getting another shot at being the leader of the Michigan State basketball team. He's capable of it. Hopefully he learned a valuable lesson from his recent drug-related court case.

By Adam Biggers

Derrick Nix will get his chance to lead the Michigan State Spartans basketball team next season.

The senior-to-be was recently charged with marijuana possession and operating a vehicle with the presence of drugs, but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of impaired driving Thursday in a court in East Lansing. The marijuana possession charges were dropped, according to a report from CBS Sports and MLive.com.

Nix has had his ups-and-downs during his career at Michigan State. He's battled weight issues since leaving Detroit Pershing High, and even contemplated leaving the Spartans prior to the 2010 Maui Invitational. However, he matured greatly this season and helped lead the Spartans to the Sweet 16.

He caught a break Thursday. Hopefully he'll learn from his recent transgressions. 

"I (got to) become a man," Nix said, according to the CBS report, which cited the Detroit Free Press.

Initially, I had my doubts. I wasn't sure if Nix's issue from just over a week ago was a sign of prior problems. And if they were, I thought it would be best for Spartans coach Tom Izzo to cut ties with Nix. Izzo had put up with several team-related behavioral issues which led him to clean house and dismiss Chris Allen and Korie Lucious from the program. If Nix was on his way to becoming the next Allen or Lucious, he had to go.

From the sound of it, this was an isolated incident. Or, at the very least, an issue that could be handled without dismissal. Nix will be a key component for the Spartans next season. It's good to hear that he's willing to make up for his folly. As a young man, mistakes will be made. As a college athlete on scholarship, mistakes will be magnified, as Nix is held to a higher standard than the typical college student, who doesn't represent their institution at the level an athlete does.

Athletes are on TV and subject to media attention. The average student hanging out in the dorms is not. It may be a double-standard, but it does exist and should be addressed. Likewise, Nix should understand that his drug-related incident is commonplace among college students. They experiment with marijuana, but they're not on a full-ride, nor do they have to answer to Izzo. There is a difference. A huge difference.

As a follower of the college game, I'm glad that Nix is getting a second chance. Furthermore, I'm happy to hear that his court issue won't jeopardize his standing at Michigan State or cast a shadow on his adult life. This was a classic case of bad judgment. Nix needed to make the right call, however, he didn't. He chose to possess marijuana. He chose to smoke it, which led to his impaired driving.

Learn from this and move on, Derrick.

Video: Michigan State-bound Matt Costello shows skills at Great Lakes Classic

By Adam Biggers

There can never enough video footage of college-bound recruits taking it to their competition, right?

Well, thanks to Jay Jensen, Gang Green now has more footage of Bay City Western star Matt Costello, a Michigan State Spartan to-be next season. Costello is a big man who can shoot, handle the ball, rebound... you know, all the good stuff you hope a basketball player is capable of.

In Jensen's latest installment, Costello is featured being a man-child at the Great Lakes Classic. Costello adds size, skill and and length to the Spartans front-court.

Enjoy the video, and follow Jensen on Twitter @PrepHoopsTV.

Apr 11, 2012

Eastern Michigan Beats Michigan State, 13-5

Justin Wan / The State News
By Sean Gagnier

Michigan State was unable to keep their mid-week winning streak going on Wednesday afternoon after suffering a 13-5 loss to the Eastern Michigan Eagles at McLane Baseball Stadium in East Lansing, Mich.

Despite racking up 12 hits on Eagles pitching, the Spartans were unable to bounce back after a 12-run third inning by Eastern Michigan. Tim Simpson, a career reliever for the Spartans, made his first collegiate start on Wednesday.

The first six batters were no problem for Simpson, who retired them in order. However, in the third inning the wheels fell off. Brett Ohrman opened the floodgates for the Eagles in the third with a two run single, followed by another two run single by Jamie Simpson. The Eagles would record a three-run home run from Matt Hit, extending their lead to 7-0 before Simpson would get the hook.

Mike Mestdagh was called upon to stop the bleeding for the Spartans, but Eastern Michigan continued to pile on runs. Of the seven batters Mestdagh faced he allowed five of them to reach base with a hit. Coach Jake Boss, Jr. came out with the hook again with two outs in the third and gave the ball to Joe Zwierzynski.

Zwierzynski was able to finally get Michigan State out of the inning, but the Eagles had amassed a 12-0 lead. The Spartans would keep Zwierzynski on the mound through the fifth inning, allowing just three hits and keeping Eastern Michigan off the board.

The Spartans were able to get three runs back in the fourth and fifth innings off a two run double by Andy Johnson and a sacrifice fly by Ryan Jones. With the score sitting at 12-3 the Eagles tacked on another run in the seventh.

Ryan Krill capped off his career game with a two run single in the eighth to cut the Eagles lead to 13-5, but that's as close as the Spartans would get. Krill had a career-high three hits in the loss to Eastern Michigan.

Michigan State travels to Bloomington, Ind. to return to Big Ten action and take on the Indiana Hooisers in a three game weekend series.

Senior transfer Brandon Wood did his job well during one year at Michigan State

 Photo: Flickr Creative Commons -- Senior transfer Brandon Wood probably didn't get the credit he deserved this year, but he was an effective player, nonetheless. He performed well during one year with Michigan State.

By Adam Biggers

Expectations were high for Brandon Wood. But he lived up to them.

The senior transfer from Valparaiso had never played in the Big Ten, or major college conference, prior to joining the Michigan State Spartans for the 2011-12 season. He had lit up the scoreboard while in the Horizon League with Valpo, averaging 17 points per game over a two-year span.

Although his numbers at Michigan State were down when compared to his numbers at Valpo, Wood played well for the Spartans, helping to lead them to a Sweet 16—their 10th under coach Tom Izzo.

Wood averaged 8.8 points per game, an average that doesn't immediately suggest he was all that effective. However, he unleashed his true scoring ability in March and in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, a stage he said he wanted to play on; hence, he transferred to a program that dances each March.

Against Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament Championship Game, Wood had his finest game with Michigan State. He shot 8-for-14 from the floor and scored 21 points in the Spartans' 68-64 victory. Although he shot just 1-for-4 from the line, his accuracy from the field and 21 points more than made up for it.

Sure, Wood was a bit up-and-down. But again, keep in mind the transition from the Horizon League to the Big Ten is a large one. I anticipated 8-10 points per game from him, figuring they would be enough to keep him on the floor with steady minutes.

A seven-point performance in the tournament-opener against LIU-Brooklyn left a little to be desired. But Wood followed with 10 points in the Spartans' hard-fought victory over St. Louis in the Round of 32.

He was one of the lone bright spots in the Spartans' 57-44 Sweet 16 loss to Louisville, which featured a defense that led it to the Final Four. Michigan State couldn't get production from anyone, but Wood, new to the March Madness that surrounded him, shot 5-for-8 from the floor and scored 14 points in 31 minutes. He and Draymond Green were the only two Spartans in double-figures.

Particularly impressive were his two standout games against Duke and Florida State, both of which made the tournament and were two of the strongest teams in the ACC. Wood scored 15 in a 74-69 loss to then sixth-ranked Duke, adding 16 two weeks later in a 65-49 victory over Florida State.

When the Spartans needed a boost, Wood came through. With Green dominating nearly every game, or nights when Keith Appling let loose, Wood blended in. But when others had off-shooting nights, or the Spartans needed a shot from the wing, Wood was a player that could be counted on, despite an inconsistent, but efficient year.

However, don't get caught up by looking at scoring stats alone (he was a decent facilitator, too). Wood's maturity, experience and leadership qualities probably didn't get enough press. Those were his best attributes. It helped having another level-headed veteran to complement Green and Austin Thornton.

Apr 10, 2012

Spartans Top Irish, 8-2 In Snowy Game

MSU Athletics
By Sean Gagnier

Michigan State improved to 20-10 on the season with their 11th straight victory of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at McLane Baseball Stadium on a snow filled Tuesday afternoon - winning by a score of 8-2.

Weather conditions were less than favorable with wind gusting throughout the game and snow flurries occurring on and off, at one point snowing enough to begin slight accumulation behind home plate.

RHP Mick VanVossen got his first collegiate victory after tossing 6.1 innings for the Spartans while giving up just two runs on six hits.

The Spartans jumped out to an early 2-0 lead when Jordan Keur and Ryan Jones recorded consecutive singles, giving Michigan State runners on the corners with no outs. Ryan Krill then laced another single to the outfield that scored Keur. Justin Scanlon extended the Spartans lead to two runs when he hit into a fielder's choice after Krill's single.

Things remained 2-0 in favor of Michigan State until the fifth inning when they piled on four more runs, giving them a 6-0 lead. Torsten Boss came up big for the Spartans in the fifth when he hit a bases loaded triple to right field. Scanlon was then able to drive Boss in to make the score, 6-0, on an RBI single later in the inning.

VanVossen was able to keep the Irish from scoring until the seventh inning. Notre Dame was able to drive home a run on a sacrifice fly to the outfield and were able to capitalize on a throwing error by Boss later in the inning for an unearned run.

Trey Popp relieved VanVossen in the sixth and would keep the Irish off the scoreboard for the last 2.2 innings. During his time on the mound Popp fanned three.

Michigan State tacked on two more runs in the eighth with an RBI single by John Martinez and an RBI triple by Jared Hook. The extra runs would push the Spartans in front of the Irish by a margin of 8-2.

Michigan State Spartans RB Le'Veon Bell should eclipse 1,000-yard mark in 2012

By Adam Biggers

As a freshman in 2010, Le'Veon Bell dazzled. As a sophomore in 2011, he was nearly unstoppable.

The 6-foot-2, 237-pound junior-to-be anchored a strong Spartans backfield this past fall, rushing for a team-high 948 yards (sixth-most in the Big Ten) with 13 touchdowns. Averaging just over five yards per carry, Bell was a constant force for Michigan State, which made it to the first Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin in December.

Although Bell shared duties with Edwin Baker -- who is bound for the NFL Draft -- a year ago, he came dangerously close to the 1,000-yard mark. In 2012, Bell should be the Spartans' go-to back and top the millennium plateau.

Michigan State wasn't the league's elite rushing team (137.9 yards, 10th overall), but the Spartans fared well through the air with Kirk Cousins at the helm. Now that Cousins has graduated, the Spartans could return to a more ground-oriented offense. And Bell is the best weapon they have at their disposal.

Bell rushed for over 100 yards twice in 2011 and went for 80 or more four times (game log). He was just four yards shy of 100 in the Spartans' 31-24 win over Minnesota. And take into account that he was pulled early in two blowout wins: He had nine carries for 68 yards in Michigan State's 55-0 Senior Day victory over Indiana and 14 carries for 69 yards in an early 44-0 win over Florida Atlantic.

Had Bell stayed in those games longer -- he wasn't needed, however -- he would have probably ended the year with 1,000 or more yards.

But back to the offense's situation. With quarterback Andrew Maxwell taking over for Cousins, accompanied with the loss of key receivers like B.J. Cunningham, Keith Nichol and Keshawn Martin, something tells me that Spartans coach Mark Dantonio might rely on his running game more than he did this past season.

That would be music to Bell's ears, more than likely. He's a powerful runner who didn't appear to shy away from carries -- or shy away from doling out hits to defenders. He doesn't have blazing speed but makes up for it with a tank-like frame.

The likelihood of Bell rushing for 1,000 yards is strong. He had 182 totes in 2011, and that number could be closer to 200 this season. Considering he averaged just over five yards per carry, Bell should have more than enough opportunities to notch his first 1,000-yard season at Michigan State.

Apr 9, 2012

Illini To Wear Camouflage In Series Finale With Spartans

On Sunday, May 6, the Illinois Fighting Illini baseball team will host "Honor and Serve Day" and to honor the occasion the team will be sporting commemorative blue and orange camouflage jerseys.

Honor and Serve Day and the team wearing the special uniforms is designed to honor University of Illinois student veterans and all of America's military heros.

The Illini will be closing out their series with Michigan State on May 6 when they wear the special jerseys. Jerseys that were donated to the team by the Fighting Illini Dugout Club and after the game the jerseys will be auctioned off with the proceeds going to the Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club.

Camouflage is nothing new to baseball, but has only recently made the jump into college baseball with Penn State donning camouflage recently.

Apr 8, 2012

Spartans Top Wolverines 10-8 in 13 Innings

MSU Athletics
By Sean Gagnier

It took 13 innings on Sunday but the Spartans topped the Wolverines in the final game of the season series by a score of 10-8. With the win Michigan State remained perfect in games that extended into extra innings, improving their record to 4-0 in games longer than nine innings.

The winning run came around in the top of the 13th when Jimmy Pickens hit an RBI double to right-center to bring home Justin Scanlon. Pickens then himself scored off an RBI single by John Martinez to center to give the Spartans the 10-8 advantage.

Michigan State headed to Ann Arbor on Sunday trying to avoid being swept by their rivals after having dropped games the previous two days in Ann Arbor and East Lansing.

With Michigan State down 8-7 and one out Justin Scanlon singled and advanced to second when Pickens was hit by a pitch. Jared Hook walked to load the bases with two outs and Jordan Keur came to the plate. He too was struck by a pitch that forced in Scanlon to tie the game. The Spartans were unable to capitalize any further on the loaded bases in the inning.

Tony Wieber was once again the story for the Spartans, giving his team 3.2 innings of scoreless ball leading to his first win of the season. He was handed the ball in the 10th and stranded a Wolverine runner at second base. Wieber did not allow a run during his time on the mound, but did allow Michigan to get at least one baserunner on in each of the innings he threw.

Wind played a major factor in the game on Sunday, with gusts effecting play all day. Michigan State benefited from the environmental factors in the 13th when a pop fly to second base by Scanlon, but the gusts pushed the ball out of the reach of Michigan 2B Kevin Krantz and allowed Scanlon to reach second base.

Pickens then put a charge into the first pitch he saw and scored Scanlon with a double. Martinez then singled Pickens in to give the Spartans an insurance run, extending the lead to 10-8 heading into the bottom of the 13th.

The four and a half hour game finally ended when Wieber got the Wolverines out in the bottom of the 13th. Michigan State's next game is Tuesday against Notre Dame at McLane Baseball Stadium in East Lansing at 3:05 p.m.

Spartans Fall 4-3 To Michigan In Front of Record Crowd

MSU Athletics
By Sean Gagnier

Michigan State continued to struggle with runners on base for the second straight day, falling 4-3 to Michigan, in front of a McLane Baseball Stadium record 2,734 crowd, despite amassing 13 hits and leaving 10 runners on base. The loss dropped the Spartans record to 18-10, 2-3 in the Big Ten.

Five Spartans collected two hits apiece, but despite the efforts of Jordan Keur, Torsten Boss, Justin Scanlon, Blaise Salter and Anthony Cheky the Spartans couldn't hold onto an early lead.

Salter used his two hits to give the Spartans a 2-0 lead after four innings with his RBI singles in the second and fourth. The lead was short lived as Michigan tied things up in the fifth off a Dylan Delaney two-run single to center.

With things knotted at two, the Spartans regained the lead in the bottom of the fifth by capitalizing on two errors by the Wolverines. Keur singled to left to lead off the inning. Then on a wild pitch by Michigan starter Trent Szkutnik he advanced to second base, but the Wolverines catcher, Cole Martin, overthrew the bag and the ball landed in center field. Keur took advantage of this to advance 90 more feet to third base. Center fielder Patrick Biondi grabbed the overthrown ball and attempted to cut down Keur at third, he however, missed the bag which allowed Keur to cover the last 90 feet to give the Spartans a 3-2 lead.

The lead was not to be however, as the Wolverines tied and then passed the Spartans in the top of the sixth inning. Martin redeemed himself with an RBI groundout that tied the game at three. Then a John DiLaura single chased Spartan starter Andrew Waszak from the game leaving runners on first and third with two outs.

Spartans coach Jake Boss, Jr. turned to his beast in the bullpen, Jeff Kinley, who had not allowed a run in his previous four outings. Kinley was unable to keep that streak alive as he allowed a hit to pinch hitter Kevin Krantz that put the Wolverines ahead 4-3.

Despite giving up the run in the sixth Kinley gave Michigan State 3.1 innings of solid work, allowing just two more hits and striking out three batters. Waszak was charged with all four runs and the loss on Saturday. He was only able to stay on the mound for 5.2 innings while surrendering eight hits, walking one and striking out four.

Michigan State threatened but did not score in the bottom of the sixth after a leadoff single by Scanlon chased Szkutnik from the mound. The Wolverines handed the ball to Alex Lakatos who was able to wipe the runner from the diamond with a double play. However, he got himself into another jam when he walked Ryan Krill and then giving up a frozen rope to Cheky which reached the right field gap, but a late jump by Krill allowed him to be cut down at home to end the inning.

Like their game on Friday, the Spartans struggled with men on base, managing to get runners on base in the final three innings but failing to get any of them around to score. Michigan State left runners on base in seven innings on Saturday.

The Spartans once again threatened in the eighth when Jimmy Pickens singled and was able to advance to second off a wild pick off toss. A groundout moved him to third base but a popout to second base ended the threat by Michigan State.

Michigan State was able to get Boss on base with two outs in the ninth, but pinch hitter Jared Hook struck out to end the Spartans threat and the game. 

Apr 6, 2012

Wolverines Drop Spartans 4-0 in Ann Arbor

MSU Baseball Facebook

By Sean Gagnier

Michigan's Brandon Sinnery proved to be too much for the Spartans as he tossed 8.1 scoreless innings in the Wolverines 4-0 victory of the series opener with Michigan State in Ann Arbor on Friday night.

Michigan State has ace Tony Bucciferro on the mound and, as always, he gave them a good outing, throwing 7.2 innings while striking out seven. The loss was reminiscent of Bucciferro's first Big Ten outing this season against Ohio State. During his two starts against the Buckeyes and Wolverines Bucciferro has allowed just four runs but has not received any run support of his own.

The Wolverines had their own ace on the mound in Sinnery, who turned in a stellar performance. He was eventually relieved from the mound, but only after throwing 127 pitches in 8.1 innings of scoreless ball while fanning five, walking just one and scattering nine hits.

UM shortstop Dylan Delaney gave the Wolverines all the runs they would need in the first inning when he connected with a Bucciferro pitch in the bottom of the first and drove it over the left field wall for a solo home run.

Bucciferro held the score at 1-0 until Patrick Biondi launched a pitch over the right field wall for a home run and John Lorenz plated a runner with a single to left. Coley Crank drove a Bucciferro pitch down the left field line in the eighth for an RBI double, giving the Wolverines a 4-0 advantage.

Michigan State outhit Michigan nine to eight, but struggled with runners in scoring position, stranding nine men on base in the game and four in the eighth and ninth innings.

The Spartans threatened in the sixth inning when the top of the order clicked and combined for three straight singles to load the bases with two out. Michigan stymied the rally when Sinnery was able to get Tony Wieber to pop out to end the inning.

In the eighth the Spartans threatened once again, getting Jordan Keur and Torsten Boss on base on back to back singles. But with the runners on and two out the Spartans were unable to cash in on the scoring opportunity.

Michigan State gave one last effort with one out in the ninth when they loaded the bases. But a Jared Hook grounder that was turned for a double play ended the rally and the game for the Spartans.

The Michigan victory is their first in their last four opportunities, with the losing skid dating back to the 2010 season. The series shifts to McLane Baseball Stadium in East Lansing on Saturday before closing out back in Ann Arbor on Sunday.

Former MSU Spartans WR Charles Rogers in trouble again

Photo: Detroit News -- Former MSU Spartans star receiver Charles Rogers was arraigned in court Thursday in Saginaw.

Adam Biggers

Charles Rogers' personal life has cast a dark shadow over his once-great playing days on the football field.

Rogers, a former star wide receiver at Michigan State and the No. 2 overall pick of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions, was arraigned Thursday in Saginaw on five misdemeanor charges stemming from two unrelated incidents, according to the Detroit News.

In past years, the former Saginaw High star has been charged with marijuana possession and driving under the influence of alcohol. 

From the Detroit News:

The 30-year-old Rogers appeared Thursday before Saginaw County District Judge A.T. Frank and pleaded not guilty to the charges. Frank released Rogers on a $7,500 personal recognizance bond.

He's charged with making a malicious phone call and conspiring to commit that crime March 5 and March 6 in Saginaw County's Bridgeport Township. Rogers also is charged with marijuana possession, possessing an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle and operating a motor vehicle on a suspended or revoked license Dec. 2 in Saginaw.

In just two years at Michigan State, Rogers rocketed up the program's career receiving yards list, finishing third with 2,821. He's fifth with 135 receptions and first with 27 touchdown catches. Rogers' 20.90 yards per catch average is second only to Kirk Gibson, who averaged 20.96 per grab.

Lugnuts Top Spartans 7-0 in Sixth Annual Crosstown Showdown

Tom Kelly / Gang Green
By Sean Gagnier

The Spartans headed down Michigan Ave. on Thursday night to take on their in-town counterparts, the Lansing Lugnuts, Single-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, in the sixth annual Crosstown Showdown. Thursday was not the Spartans night as the Lugnuts beat them 7-0 after six innings of two hit ball.

Each season the Crosstown Showdown draws more people, in its first season a few thousand people attended the exhibition match between the two squads but on Thursday 12,997 people took in the game. It was the first game for the Lugnuts in Lansing fresh out of spring training in Dunedin, Fla. and an exhibition match for the Spartans between their Wednesday night game against Eastern Michigan and a weekend series with Michigan.

Despite the game not officially meaning anything on the stats sheets both teams played for hometown bragging rights and what looked like a pitchers duel through six innings turned into a seven run blowout for Lansing. The Lugnuts now hold a 4-2 series lead in the Crosstown Showdown over the Spartans.

The game was slow for six innings with both teams getting only one hit each, but the Lugnuts rallied for seven runs on six hits in the bottom of the seventh inning. Michigan State had Tim Simpson start on the rubber, making his first start after 43 previous appearances out of the bullpen. Simpson gave the Spartans two scoreless innings with two strikeouts.

Lansing countered with Aaron Sanchez, a 2010 supplemental first-round MLB draft pick and a Top 10 prospect for the Blue Jays. He pitched the first inning and fanned two Spartans while walking two.

Jesse Hernandez then took the ball for the Lugnuts and threw five scoreless innings with four strikeouts. Michigan State had a revolving door on the mound with Chad Nielson seeing action in the third and fourth inning and Cody Huge, Chase Rihtarchik and Mike Mestdagh each tossing an scoreless inning.

Lugnuts hitters got to Spartan pitchers in the seventh when Chris Schaeffer led of the inning with a single and was followed by a Bryson Namba double to right. With runners on second and third, Markus Brisker singled two center, scoring two. Kenny Wilson, in a return stint with the Lugnuts, doubled down the right field line scoring two more runs, making the score 4-0.

Jonathan Berti then singled to center to drive in two more RBI extending the Lugnuts lead to 6-0. Pierce Rankin finished the rally with an RBI groundout to put Lansing on top 7-0.

Lansing pitching held the Spartans to just two hits on the day, with Anthony Cheky getting a single in the fifth and Ryan Krill reaching on a single in the ninth.