Feb. 20, 2009
CLEARWATER, Fla. - The Michigan State baseball team used a 3-for-4 performance from Brandon Eckerle at the plate and a solid start from senior Nolan Moody on the hill to lift the Spartans to a 4-2 win over Connecticut on Friday (Feb. 20) in the first game of the BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge. Head coach Jake Boss Jr. became the first Spartan head coach since Tom Smith in 1983 to win his debut game.
"I thought our guys played very well today," said Boss. "It is good when you get good senior leadership and we had two of three captains play today - Nolan Moody and Eric Roof - who did a great job. Nolan gave us a great effort on the mound, especially for his first collegiate start."
Eric Roof got MSU on the board in the first inning with a single to left field that scored Chris Roberts. UConn tied the game in the top half of the third with an RBI fielder's choice by Elliott Glynn.
The Spartans regained the lead in the bottom of the third when A.J. Shindler singled up the middle, scoring Eckerle. Two Husky errors and a hit batsman helped the Spartans extend their lead to 3-1 in the fourth inning.
MSU pressured the Huskies in the eighth when Jeff Holm reached first base on a wild pitch and then stole second and third to get into scoring position. With two outs, Eckerle registered his third hit of the game with a two-out hit up the middle to score Holm and give the Spartans an insurance run and a 4-2 lead heading into the ninth.
Junior newcomer Kurtis Frymier came on in the ninth and got UConn's Harold Brantley Jr. to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end the game, giving Frymier his first save as a Spartan.
Moody pitched effectively in his first-career start, going seven innings, scattering seven hits and striking out one.
"It was a lot of fun out there - I really liked getting the start on opening day," Moody said. "Getting the win for me means the team got the win and that's great."
MSU will play its second game of the BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge on Saturday (Feb. 21) at 4 p.m. against Seton Hall.
Notes: Moody's first-career win came in his 52nd career game...MSU defeated UConn for the second time in two years as it downed the Huskies, 11-1, last season on Feb. 24, 2008...The Spartans stole seven bases in Friday's game...Boss is the first Spartan head coach to win his debut game since Tom Smith beat South Dakota State, 5-4, on March 21, 1983.