Broncos Face In-State Rivals

The Western Michigan University baseball team (13-17 overall, 7-5 MAC) is looking to reach .500 this week when it travels to Michigan State and Eastern Michigan. WMU encounters Michigan State on Wednesday (April 16) at Oldsmobile Park (8,000), home of the Class A Lugnuts. First pitch is 6:00 p.m. WMU then takes on Eastern Michigan in a four-game Mid-American Conference series (April 18-20) in Ypsilanti, starting Friday at 7:00 p.m. in Oestrike Stadium.

Saturday's doubleheader (7/9 inn.) begins at 2:00 p.m., followed by Sunday's matinee at 1:00 p.m. WMU occupies third place in the MAC West as it approaches the mid-way mark of the league schedule this weekend.

PITCHING ROTATION (subject to change)

Michigan State:
RHP J.R. Mathes (0-2, 10.80 ERA, 3 Ks, 6.2 IP)

EMU series:
Game #1 — LHP Brad Mumma (5-3, 3.40 ERA, 46 Ks, 53.0 IP)
Game #2 — LHP Pat Misch (2-1, 3.68 ERA, 28 Ks, 36.2 IP)
Game #3 — LHP Clark Sterley (1-3, 3.90 ERA, 22 Ks, 30.0 IP)
Game #4 — RHP Keith Perez (2-3, 4.26 ERA, 41 Ks, 44.1 IP)

LAST ACTION

Western Michigan managed a weekend split against Northern Illinois in a tightly-contested four-game MAC series played in Kalamazoo (April 11-13). NIU won the opener, 7-3, after scoring three times in the top first. The first game of Saturday's doubleheader wasn't decided until NIU's last at-bat, when they pushed a run across in the top seventh. The night cap saw WMU jump out to a 10-0 lead, before hanging on for a 10-6 win. The Huskies hit three home runs in the eighth in their comeback bid. The victory signaled a milestone for WMU, which became the first MAC school to record 600 league wins. Sunday's 15-inning marathon lasted three hours, 55 minutes before WMU pulled out a 4-3 win. The Broncos rallied in the ninth to tie the game on Joe Zacharzewski's lead-off home run.

After surrendering a run in the 15th, the Brown & Gold rallied for two in the bottom of the inning, as Chad Tarpley drove in the game-winning run with a single up the middle. Earlier in the week (April 9), WMU dropped a 7-1 contest at 16th-ranked Notre Dame in a closer game than the score indicates. The Broncos trailed, 2-1, until the eighth inning.

BIG TEN OPPOSITION

Wednesday's trip to Lansing marks the fourth game against a Big Ten opponent this season for Western Michigan. The Broncos are 1-2 thus far versus their neighboring conference, having defeated Michigan at the Butler Classic and splitting a two-game series against Illinois in Champaign. Fred Decker's squad has two more games against the Big Ten, hosting Michigan for the Centennial Celebration game on May 6 and traveling to Northwestern on May 13. MAC schools are 13-12 versus the Big Ten entering this week's action. The Spartans are 2-4 against the MAC: 1-0 BG, 0-1 CMU, 1-3 Ohio.

SCOUTING REPORTS

*Michigan State (9-20 overall) plays seven of its next nine games at home, beginning with tonight's game at Olds Park. The Spartans are 11 games under .500 coming off a year in which the team recorded its second most wins (38) and set five offensive records. Junior C Brady Burrill is a preseason All-America pick who leads the team in batting (.400) while East Lansing native Travis Gulick paces the club in RBI (21), is a co-leader in homers (3) and owns the second-best batting average (.357).

*Eastern Michigan (12-17 overall) halted Notre Dame's 17-game winning streak Tuesday with a 5-3 triumph on the road. The Eagles are 10-7 since late March after starting the year 2-10. IF Derrick Peterson ranks first in the MAC with a .545 on-base percentage and is second in batting (.427).

SERIES HISTORY

The Broncos split against MSU last year, recording a 4-3 win at the Butler Classic and suffering a 12-10 defeat at Hyames Field. One of the more memorable WMU wins in the series was a 17-16 slugfest at Kobs Field in 1996. The school will be meeting for the 144th time, with WMU leading 83-60. Eastern Michigan took three of four in Kalamazoo last year, but WMU holds the all-time series advantage at 78-55.

COACH FRED DECKER

Fred Decker is in his 28th season at Western Michigan, having compiled a career record of 758-669-6. His 758 wins are the most in WMU Athletics history while his 385 conference wins tops the all-time list among MAC coaches. Decker led WMU to the 1989 MAC Championship and West Division titles in 1982 and 1983. He was inducted into WMU's Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993. A total of 85 former players have been drafted by MLB.

QUOTING DECKER

"We always enjoy competing against Michigan State and the Big Ten; it's a measuring stick for our program. Eastern Michigan is the West Division champion from last year, and we hope to do well against them this weekend. I feel our win against Northern Illinois on Sunday will be important as the season unfolds, it showed that we could hang in there and win."

BRONCO NOTEBOOK

Junior LHP J.R. Mathes will start against Michigan State, marking his first appearance since March 8 when he tweaked a knee at Kansas … LHP Brad Mumma tossed his fifth straight complete game last Friday. He stands second among MAC pitchers in overall wins (5) and third in innings pitched (53). He was named MAC West Pitcher of the Week on April 8 … RF Tom Fabrizio is the MAC's fifth-leading hitter with a .387 overall batting average … freshman CF R.C. Dickerson stole four bases in two games last week … the Broncos' .966 fielding percentage rates second-best in the league … WMU has a light schedule next week as players take part in final exams.

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