Mavs have to improve double plays, strikeouts
Head Coach Matt Magers has a rather young squad to lead this spring, as the MSU Baseball team struggled at times to find consistency on its annual spring trip to Florida.
The team lost two of three games to Embry-Riddle to kick-off the stretch, as the pitching gave up a combined 19 runs in the three games. Pitching would prove to be an item of higher value of winning ballgames in Florida, as the Mavericks went 5-1 when allowing five runs or less in the game.
The offense was lighting up the scoreboard, as the Mavs scored double digits in three of the games and averaged a run total of 7.6 runs scored per game. Minnesota State would then defeat Ohio Dominican 9-4, but dropped the next two games against Florida Southern and Northwood as they let up 12 and 16 runs, respectively in each match up.
The Mavericks would then earn a win over Walsh 5-3, followed up by a close 3-2 loss to West Chester. Ending on a good note, the Mavericks offense exploded for a combined 26 runs in the final two games to end their week at 5-5.
Junior infielder Eric Peterson is leading the Mavericks in batting average (.378), runs scored (17), tied for the lead in hits (17), hit by pitch (7), and on-base percentage (.508). Through 45 at-bats, the Eagan high school alum has only struck out once.
Senior outfielder Taylor Branstad has had quite the season to start as well, as he is hitting .340 with a team-leading runs batted in at 15. Branstad also is tied for the team lead in homeruns with two. As a team, MSU is hitting .284 with 94 runs scored in 13 games.
Something the Mavericks will have to work on with offense is hitting into double plays as they are currently tied for 15th in Division II in that department. Minnesota State Mankato will also have to minimize their strikeouts, as they are averaging 8.6 strikeouts per nine innings. With a young team, most can definitely expect to see this and expect growth from it.
As a pitching staff, the Mavericks will have to continue to improve as the season grows with age. As a team, the Mavs have a 4.68 earned run average (ERA), which is not terrible but it could definitely be improved.
Sophomore Dalton Roach is leading the arms with a 4.50 ERA. He is 1-1 on the season and has struck out 20 batters in 18 innings pitched.
Senior Peter Gaustad has started a season any pitcher would love, as he is yet to allow a run through 8 2/3 innings pitched. The Mavericks have done a good job not giving up too many walks so far, as they have only allowed 45 walks through 109.2 innings.
Through it all, MSU has a 13-8 record and played some tough teams through the Florida Trip. With their next two games against the University of Wisconsin-Parkside canceled due to weather, the Mavericks will face Bethany Lutheran College next Tuesday, the 22nd of March at home. Look for the team to continue to grow together as one unit and be ready for when conference play begins March 25th.