Michigan State releases 2018 baseball schedule

Michigan State baseball released its 2018 schedule on MSU’s official athletics page on Monday. The Spartans are set to kick off the 2018 campaign on Feb. 16 at Pete Beiden Field at Bob Bennett Stadium in Fresno, Calif. Their season begins with a nine-day trip to California where they’ll square off against Fresno State and Pepperdine.

“Going on the road at Fresno State and at Pepperdine to start the year to face two programs that have very storied traditions will be big for us,” coach Jake Boss Jr. told MSU Athletic Communications. “Both have won national championships, both are outstanding west coast opponents.”

The 54-game slate includes trips to California, South Carolina and two trips to Minnesota.

This schedule is one that stands out from others in the past. MSU has been haunted by the lack of strength of schedule and low RPI.

The shadows of the 2015-16 team’s 36-20 record still loom. Those Spartans made a deep run in the Big Ten tournament before losing to Ohio State, who would eventually win the bracket.

Despite the solid record and strong tournament showing, the team didn’t face many quality opponents. That was the reason Boss Jr. and the Spartans didn’t earn an at-large bid to the big dance.

“We’re very excited for the 2018 season,” Boss Jr. said. “I think our schedule is one that’s very challenging, and offers us a lot of very good RPI opportunities.”

This year, the strength of schedule and potential quality wins are there.

Twelve games will be played against teams who earned a bid to the 2017 NCAA tournament. Neutral site and true road games prove valuable, as the committee highly acknowledges competition played away from home, and MSU begins the season on a 14-game road trip.

Standout events include the First Pitch Invitational, the DQ Baseball Classic Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge and a matchup at Comerica Park. The Spartans will take their annual trip to Greenville, S.C. and play four games – including one against ACC powerhouse Clemson. The Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge is being played at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, and the Spartans will face Arizona, Washington and UCLA in three straight days. The Spartans will square off against Eastern Michigan in a mid-week trip to Detroit’s Comerica Park.

The conference slate is tough as usual, with teams like Nebraska, Michigan and Maryland, all of which earned at-large bids to the NCAA tournament last June.

Other non-conference notables include Notre Dame, Valparaiso, Central Michigan, Western Michigan and Toledo.

The 2018 Big Ten tournament will be played at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb. The tournament begins on May 23 and ends on May 27.

NCAA regionals start just four days after the Big Ten tournament, on June 1.

Coach Boss Jr. and the Spartans finished 29-23 overall and 10-14 in the Big Ten a season ago.