The Michigan State Spartans (0-4) head out west for the second consecutive weekend, following a winless opening-weekend in Fresno. This time, they’ll take on the Pepperdine Waves (2-3) in Malibu, who split their opening four-game series against Louisiana Tech, and dropped a mid-week contest to UCLA.
About the Waves
Head coach Rick Hirtensteiner has been part of the Waves coaching staff since 1998, spending 17 seasons as an assistant. He is in his third season as head coach, earning the title in 2015. Hirtensteiner graduated from Pepperdine in 1989, where he played his collegiate ball. During his tenure, he was an All-American and a WCC Player of the Year. He then went on to play in the Angels, Marlins and Expos organizations as a minor leaguer before finding his way back to Malibu.
NCAA tournaments are familiar territory to the Waves, as they’ve qualified for 30 regionals – their last appearance coming in 2015. In 2014, they lost in the super regional to TCU. The Waves have two College World Series berths (1979, 1992), winning their only title in 1992.
The Waves finished 2017 with a 20-32 overall record; 8-19 in the WCC. They failed to qualify for their conference tournament for the first time since 2013, and ended the season dropping 17 of their final 20 games.
Pepperdine returns Jordan Qsar and Quincy McAfee, who were both honored by the WCC. Qsar was named to the All-WCC honorable mention list, while McAfee made the WCC All-Freshman Team.
The Spartans head back to California, a week after dropping four straight to the Fresno State Bulldogs. Riley McCauley mustered up 12 strikeouts in six innings in his first outing of 2018 and is the Spartans’ probable starter for Friday’s contest.
Zack McGuire, Chad Roskelly and Marty Bechina didn’t wait long before showing off their power. Each of them homered last weekend and drove in a pair of runs.
Bryce Kelley and Bailey Peterson were punched out six times. Danny Gleaves struck out seven times in his 17 at-bats. Peterson is seeing his the first of his Division I action and is struggling to ditch the strikeouts. He reached base four times on three hit-by-pitches and a walk.
Mitchell Tyranski and Sam Benschoter had scoreless outings in their 2018 bullpen debuts. Andrew Gonzalez surrendered three runs on five hits in 1.1 innings of relief.
Spartans vs. Waves
One-run ball games are the Achilles to this MSU club. Expect more of the same against the Waves, as they’ll face another low-scoring offense, which scored only eight runs throughout their first five games.
Pepperdine was outscored by opponents in every inning past the fifth in 2017. So far, opponents are outscoring them 9-4 from the fifth inning on.
The battle of broken records takes place this weekend, as both teams try to break their bad habits and tendencies and try to salvage more early non-conference wins. Expect to see more low-scoring games as these as MSU is no stranger to these. The Waves have played one-run games in four of their five games this season, splitting those. With MSU’s track record in those kinds of games, the Waves will want to have close endings. On the other hand, Jake Boss Jr. and his team will look ahead to the later innings and hope they can outscore their counterpart.
Friday: Riley McCauley (0-0, 1.50 ERA, 6 IP) vs. Wil Jensen (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 7.1 IP)
Saturday: Ethan Landon (0-1, 1.35 ERA, 6.2 IP) vs. Cooper Chandler (0-1, 3.68 ERA, 7.1 IP)
Sunday: Mason Erla (0-0, 7.20 ERA, 5 IP) vs. Easton Lucas (0-1, 9.00 ERA, 3 IP)
Pepperdine 2 – Michigan State 0 (Last played in 2012)
First pitch is slated for 5 p.m. EST, 2 p.m. PST from Eddy D. Field Stadium in Malibu, Calif. The games can be viewed online at watchstadium.com.