April 4, 2010
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State baseball team exploded for 26 runs off 31 hits and won the rubber match of its three games series with Iowa, 26-11, on Sunday afternoon at McLane Baseball Stadium at Kobs Field. The Spartans scored a total of 45 runs in the series, their highest total in a three-game set since scoring 44 against the Hawkeyes last season. MSU improved to 19-5 and 2-1 in the Big Ten while Iowa fell to 10-15 and 1-2 in the conference.
MSU had 11 players with at least one hit in Sunday's game and leading the way was Brandon Eckerle, who finished 6-for-7, tying the Big Ten single-game hits record. Jeff Holm went 4-for-5 and combined with Eckerle for 10 RBI.
"The old cliché is `hitting is contagious' and it certainly was today," said MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. "We certainly realize it can go as quickly as it comes, so we'll enjoy it today and then get ready for Bowling Green on Tuesday. The most important thing is that we won the series and that's the goal every time we go out there. Iowa is a good club and to take two out of three is a good way to start the conference season."
After stranding four runners through the first three innings and having two more thrown out on stolen base attempts, the Spartans broke loose for 18 runs over the next two innings to take a 20-2 lead. The Spartans sent 26 hitters to the plate over the two innings.
A double by Eli Boike drove in two runs to get things going for MSU in the fourth inning and Eckerle followed with an RBI single. The Spartans scored another run off a wild pitch and then Chris Roberts drove in two more with a single.
Consecutive one-out singles drove in three runs to start the 12-run, 11-hit fifth inning. Ryan Jones drove in another with a sacrifice fly and then Roberts belted a two-run homer over the right field fence. After two more RBI singles, Eckerle hit his first home run of the year - a three run shot over the left field wall. MSU added one more in the inning for the 20-2 lead.
The Spartans added four more runs in seventh inning, highlighted by Eckerle's fifth RBI of the game and Ben Vrobel added two more for MSU in the eighth with a two-RBI double.
"I'm feeling good," Eckerle said. "Today was one of those days where no matter where the ball was, I felt like I was going to get a hit."
Iowa put together a high-scoring inning of their own in the ninth, scoring nine runs off nine hits and one MSU error to make the final score 26-11.
The Hawkeyes led the game 1-0 but a one-out double by Roberts in the bottom of the second inning got the Spartans going and led to their first run of the game. After Torsten Boss walked, catcher John Martinez came through with a single through the right side that scored Roberts to tie the game at one.
Iowa reclaimed the lead in the top of the third inning with a sacrifice fly by Ryan Durant but the advantage was short lived as an RBI single by Holm in the bottom of the inning tied the game at two.
Pitching with the sizeable lead in his last three innings of work, MSU starter Tony Bucciferro went six complete innings, allowing six hits and striking out four en route to improving to 4-2 on the season.
Iowa starter Phil Schreiber lasted 3.2 innings and was tagged with the loss, allowing 7 runs off 11 hits.
The Spartans will return to action on Tuesday when they host Bowling Green at 3:05 p.m. at McLane Baseball Stadium.