Spartans Head to Greenville, S.C., For Fifth Straight Year
 
 
 
Tony Bucciferro was named the Big Ten Co-Pitcher of the Week following his performance in the win over No. 11 St. John's on Opening Day last Friday.
 
Tony Bucciferro was named the Big Ten Co-Pitcher of the Week following his performance in the win over No. 11 St. John's on Opening Day last Friday.
 
 

Feb. 23, 2012

Michigan State (1-2) at First Pitch Invitational
 Dates Friday, Feb. 24 - Sunday, Feb. 26
 Location Greenville, S.C. | Fluor Field at West End
 Stadium Address 945 S. Main Street | Greenville, SC 29605 | Directions
 Multimedia Weekend Preview
 Ticket Information Click here for ticket pricing.
 Social Media Updates @statebaseball | Facebook

Game 1 vs. Miami-Ohio (2-1)
 Date | Time Friday, Feb. 24 | 1 p.m.
 Coverage Twitter updates @statebaseball
Gametracker
 Notes Michigan State | Miami-Ohio
 Pitching Matchup MSU: Sr. RHP Tony Bucciferro (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs.
MU: Jr. RHP Brooks Fiala (1-0, 2.35 ERA)

Game 2 vs. Furman (2-3)
 Date | Time Friday, Feb. 24 | 5 p.m.
 Coverage Live Stats at FurmanPaladins.com
Twitter updates @statebaseball
 Notes Michigan State | Furman
 Pitching Matchup MSU: Jr. RHP Andrew Waszak (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs.
FUR: Sr. RHP Bobby Lyne (1-0, 3.00 ERA)

Game 3 vs. Furman
 Date | Time Saturday, Feb. 25 | 5 p.m.
 Coverage Live Stats at FurmanPaladins.com
Twitter updates @statebaseball
 Pitching Matchup MSU: So. RHP David Garner (0-1, 14.73 ERA) vs.
FUR: Jr. RHP Ben Carlson (0-1, 18.00 ERA)

Game 4 vs. Miami-Ohio
 Date | Time Sunday, Feb. 26| 12 p.m.
 Coverage Gametracker
Twitter updates @statebaseball
 Pitching Matchup MSU: R-So. RHP Mike Theodore (0-0, 6.75 ERA) vs.
MU: Sr. LHP Shawn Marquardt (0-0, 13.50 ERA)

Fluor Field
The Spartans will play in the First Pitch Invitational at Fluor Field at the West End in Greenville, S.C., this weekend.

SPARTANS HEAD TO FLUOR FIELD IN GREENVILLE, S.C., FOR FIFTH STRAIGHT SEASON
Michigan State travels to Greenville, S.C., for the fifth straight year this weekend to play in one of the finest baseball parks in all of Minor League Baseball, Fluor Field at the West End. Home of the Class A Greenville Drive, the facility is modeled after Fenway Park in Boston, featuring its own "Green Monster" in left field with a 30-foot high wall and a manual scoreboard. The outfield dimensions are identical to Fenway Park, including "Pesky's Pole" in right field. Fluor Field at the West End opened in 2006 and was named the "Ballpark of the Year" by Ballparks.com in its inaugural season. Drive co-owner and team president Craig Brown is an alumnus of Michigan State University.

"It's the best trip we take all year," said MSU head coach Jake Boss. "The Greenville Drive and Craig Brown really take care of us well. We're playing against some good competition; Coach Smith at Furman always has a good ballclub and Miami-Ohio will be there this year, and that's another quality program. It will be a good test. It's a great city, a beautiful ballpark, and a lot of fun."

The Spartans (1-2) will play a doubleheader on Friday, Feb. 24, facing Miami-Ohio (2-1) at 1 p.m. and then Furman (2-3) at 5 p.m. MSU will then face Furman Saturday at 4 p.m. and Miami-Ohio on Sunday at 12 p.m.

This marks the third edition of the First Pitch Invitational at Fluor Field at the West End. Last season, the Spartans went 2-1 at the First Pitch Invitational with victories over Charleston Southern and Furman in the first two games before dropping an 8-0 contest to No. 6 Clemson on Sunday.

STARTING NINE

1) SPARTANS AT FLUOR FIELD
This marks the fifth conseuctive season Michigan State will play at Fluor Field at the West End. The Spartans started their annual trek to Greenville, S.C., in the 2008 season with a three-game series against Quinnipiac. In 2009, the Spartans took on Clemson, Quinnipiac and Xavier, and in 2010, they faced Furman, Clemson and Miami-Ohio. Last season, the Spartans went 2-1 at the First Pitch Invitational with victories over Charleston Southern and Furman in the first two games before dropping an 8-0 contest to No. 6 Clemson on Sunday. Overall, MSU is 7-6 in games played at Fluor Field.

2) BIG TEN/BIG EAST CHALLENGE
Michigan State opened its season by going 1-2 at the fourth annual Big Ten/Big East Challenge last weekend in Florida. Overall, the Big Ten and Big East tied with 15 wins apiece at the event. The Spartans recorded a huge Opening Day win over 11th-ranked St. John's, 11-4, but followed with two tough one-run losses to South Florida (2-1) and No. 15 Louisville (7-6). USF's Andrew Longely hit a solo homer in the bottom of the ninth in the walk-off victory over the Spartans, while the Cardinals rallied from a 5-2 deficit to claim a 7-6 win.

"We showed some good signs certainly all weekend along," said Boss. "At the same time it was disappointing because we felt like we could have won all three games, and we came away with one good win. When you're playing good and talented ballclubs, you're really going to have to execute, and there were some areas where we just didn't do enough."

Jordan Keur went 7-for-12 (.583) at the Big Ten/Big East Challenge last weekend.


3) BIG WIN
Michigan State's victory over No. 11 St. John's on Opening Day was the highest-ranked team MSU has defeated since taking down No. 6 Rice on March 7, 2008, in Houston. St. John's, the preseason Big East favorite, was ranked No. 11 by Collegiate Baseball.

MSU Wins Over Ranked Opponents (Since 2000)
Feb. 17, 2011 - Dunedin, Fla. - Michigan State 11, No. 11 St. John's 4
March 7, 2008 - Houston, Texas - Michigan State 9, No. 6 Rice 3
March 16, 2007 - Norman, Okla. - Michigan State 4, No. 21 Oklahoma 3
Feb. 28, 2003 - Myrtle Beach, S.C. - Michigan State 3, No. 20 North Carolina 1
March 8, 2000 - Coral Gables, Fla. - Michigan State 13, No. 10 Miami 11

4) Tony Bucciferro NAMED BIG TEN CO-PITCHER OF THE WEEK
Tony Bucciferro has put together several impressive performances on the mound during his career at Michigan State - add Opening Day 2012 to that list. The senior right-hander picked up his 21st career victory by only allowing one hit through six innings against No. 11 St. John's. He struck out six, didn't surrender a walk, and retired his first 13 batters.

Bucciferro gathered some national attention for his start, as Perfect Game USA columnist Kendall Rogers tabbed him as "one of the nation's best pitchers." Coach Boss also labeled it "as good of a performance by Tony since he's been here. He threw strikes, located all of his pitches, and was in charge the entire time he was out there."

It was good enough for Bucciferro to earn Big Ten Co-Pitcher of the Week accolades, marking the second time in his career he has won the weekly award. He shared the honor with Purdue's Lance Breedlove, who struck out 11 in seven shutout innings in his win over Cincinnati. Bucciferro continues to climb up the ladder in Michigan State's record book. He's fifth in innings pitched with 267.0, sixth in strikeouts with 185, and tied for sixth in all-time victories with 21.

5) KEUR OFF TO HOT START
Jordan Keur led the Spartans with a .583 average at the Big Ten/Big East Challenge and currently ranks second in the Big Ten in batting. Keur was 7-for-12 at the plate last weekend and also scored a team-high five runs.

The junior left fielder had two hits and three runs in the Opening Day win over 11th-ranked St. John's, went 3-for-3 in the loss to South Florida, and collected two more hits and scored three runs against No. 15 Louisville. He also had two walks and compiled a team-best .643 on-base percentage. In the bottom of the eighth inning against St. John's, with MSU holding onto a 5-4 lead, Keur led off with a single on a 2-2 pitch that helped ignite a six-run inning in the 11-4 victory.

6) BOSS MAN
In front of numerous scouts against St. John's, junior center fielder Torsten Boss delivered a solo homer in his first at-bat of 2012 off of preseason All-American Kyle Hansen, hitting a 94-mph fastball over the left-center field wall. Boss stayed hot throughout the game, going 3-for-5 with three RBIs and three runs, including a two-run single in the fifth inning. The Lowell, Mich., product hit .429 overall for the weekend (6-for-14).

Although he was an All-Big Ten performer his first two seasons at third base, Boss will move to center field this spring for the Spartans following the departure of four-year starter Brandon Eckerle.

Boss, who has started 76 games at third base, was a second-team All-Big Ten choice in 2010 and a first-team all-league selection in 2011. He currently has a career average of .360 with 14 homers and 103 RBIs, and was named to Louisville Slugger's Preseason All-America Third Team.

7) SOLID AT SECOND
Junior Ryan Jones is in his third season as the starting second baseman for the Spartans. Last season, Jones became the first Spartan to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors at second base in 36 years as he hit .344 and led the team with a .442 on-base percentage. After batting No. 2 in the order his first two seasons, Jones has moved to the leadoff spot this year.

Jones matched his home run total from last season with a solo blast to lead off the third inning against Louisville. He had one homer each in 2010 and 2011. Jones went 4-for-12 (.333) at the Big Ten/Big East Challenge and displayed some power at the plate, collecting not only a homer, but also two doubles and a triple, good for a team-high .917 slugging percentage.

During his All-Big Ten campaign as a sophomore, Jones collected a school-record 33-game hitting streak from March 6 to May 8. It tied for the longest hitting streak in the nation in 2011.

8) FAMILIAR FACES
Michigan State returns six starters from its Big Ten Championship team to its lineup in 2012: sophomore catcher Joel Fisher, junior second baseman Ryan Jones, senior shortstop Justin Scanlon, junior left fielder Jordan Keur, junior designated hitter Jared Hook, and junior Torsten Boss, who is moving from third base to center field. On the mound, MSU welcomes back three starters with weekend experience (senior Tony Bucciferro, junior Andrew Waszak, sophomore David Garner), along with midweek starter Chase Rihtarchik. In the bullpen, nine letterwinners return, including junior closer Tony Wieber, seniors Bryce Jenney and Tim Simpson, and junior lefties Ryan Martin and Trey Popp.

John Martinez had two hits against No. 15 Louisville last Sunday.


9) MICHIGAN STATE NAMED 2012 BIG TEN PRESEASON FAVORITE
In a vote by the conference coaches, Michigan State was selected as the 2012 preseason favorite in the Big Ten, followed by Purdue and Minnesota . . . Michigan State has won four Big Ten regular-season titles in school history (1954, 1971, 1979, 2011) but has never repeated as conference champs . . . Michigan State won its fourth Big Ten title and first since 1979 with a 15-9 record in 2011, sharing the regular-season crown with Illinois . . . MSU was in first place wire-to-wire in the Big Ten standings.

"I think that this team still has a little bit of a chip on their shoulder, which is good," said Boss on if the team feels any pressure to repeat as conference champs. "The fact that we had some success last year - we had a great fall being able to present our kids rings and things like that - was really important for this program obviously, but at the same time, we weren't able to compete in the NCAA Tournament, which I think is something that means a lot to our guys.

"Watching Illinois (last year) going through the (Big Ten) tournament and celebrating on the field at the end in Columbus was something that really stuck with our guys. Seeing the success that Illinois had, and the way they represented the Big Ten in such a positive way in the NCAA Tournament last year showed our guys that we're good enough to compete with anybody."

WIEBER NAMED TO PRESEASON STOPPER OF THE YEAR WATCH LIST
Junior right-hander Tony Wieber has been named to the Stopper of the Year Award Preseason Watch List, as announced by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association of America. The award has been given annually since 2005 to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball.

Wieber, a third-team All-Big Ten selection as a relief pitcher in 2011, led the team and ranked fourth in the Big Ten with eight saves last season; that total tied for third most in an MSU single-season. He also compiled a perfect 5-0 record with a 3.64 ERA and struck out 38 batters in 42.0 innings. In addition, Wieber ranked second on the team with 23 appearances.

Wieber earned his first save of the 2012 season on Opening Day against St. John's.

Wieber owns a 9-0 career record on the mound and his 10 career saves already rank tied for fourth in MSU history. Wieber also plays outfield for the Spartans; he batted .288 with 12 doubles and 21 RBIs in 2011.

WISH I WERE HOME
Michigan State will open the 2012 season on the road for its first 17 games . . . The Spartans' first home series is scheduled for March 23-25 against Oakland at McLane Baseball Stadium . . . MSU owns a 42-14 (.750) record at home under head coach Jake Boss . . . MSU went 12-5 (.706) at home in 2011, including an 11-1 record in the Big Ten . . . Boss is 34-13 (.723) overall at McLane Baseball Stadium and 8-1 (.889) at Cooley Law School Stadium in Lansing.

WATCH ME
Michigan State landed a school-record six players on the All-Big Ten First Team last year, and three are back for the Spartans in 2012: senior right-handed pitcher Tony Bucciferro, junior center fielder Torsten Boss and junior second baseman Ryan Jones. All three were named "Players to Watch" by the Big Ten coaches. In addition, the Spartans return third-team selections Tony Wieber (relief pitcher) and Jared Hook (designated hitter), along with All-Freshman Team picks David Garner (pitcher) and Joel Fisher (catcher).

HARD TO REPLACE
Although Boss, Bucciferro and Jones return to the lineup, Michigan State has the difficult task of replacing the other three All-Big Ten first-team selections from a year ago.

First baseman Jeff Holm was named the 2011 Big Ten Player of the Year and a third-team All-American after batting .376 with nine homers and 61 RBIs; Kurt Wunderlich became the first Spartan to be earn Big Ten Pitcher of the Year honors as he led the league with 10 wins and set a school record with 101.2 innings pitched; and Brandon Eckerle set MSU career and single-season records for hits and was just the second Spartan to win the overall Big Ten batting title.

Holm (12th round, Detroit), Wunderlich (20th round, Oakland) and Eckerle (32nd round, Detroit) were all chosen in the 2011 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft last June.

YOUTH IS SERVED
While MSU's three All-Big Ten seniors were taken in the MLB Draft, four incoming Spartan freshmen also heard their names called in June, but elected to attend Michigan State University.

First baseman/catcher Blaise Salter (38th round, Detroit), first baseman Ryan Krill (40th round, Detroit), outfielder/catcher Jimmy Pickens (41st round, Detroit) and right-handed pitcher Mick VanVossen (49th round, Texas) are members of a nine-man recruiting class that will see significant playing time this spring.

In fact, three freshmen made their first career starts on Opening Day against St. John's: Krill at first base, Pickens in right field, and Kevin Goergen at third base.

BUCCIFERRO, SCANLON VOTED TEAM CAPTAINS
Senior right-handed pitcher Tony Bucciferro and senior shortstop Justin Scanlon have been voted captains by their teammates for the 2012 season.

LOOK, I'M ON TV
Michigan State will make at least four nationally televised appearances on BTN this season. MSU's first game on the network will be the sixth annual Crosstown Showdown against the Lansing Lugnuts on Thursday, April 5 at 7 p.m. at Cooley Law School Stadium. The Spartans edged the Lugnuts in the annual exhibition in 2011, 2-1. On Sunday, April 8, MSU's game at Michigan will be broadcasted live, beginning at 3 p.m. The game was originally scheduled for a 1 p.m. start.

The second annual Clash at Comerica against Central Michigan on Tuesday, May 15 will be shown on BTN at 7 p.m. For the second straight year, BTN will televise MSU's final home game of the season on Senior Day as the Spartans take on Penn State at 12 p.m. in McLane Baseball Stadium on Saturday, May 19. The game was originally scheduled for a 1:05 p.m. start.

BTN will nationally televise at least 32 Big Ten baseball games, including the entire Big Ten Baseball Tournament May 23-27 in Columbus, Ohio. It will also stream at least 51 additional games on the Big Ten Digital Network on BTN.com.

AMONG THE VERY BEST
Tony Bucciferro is ranked among NCAA Division I active leaders in wins (tied for seventh with 21) and strikeouts (19th with 185).

SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS

Miami-Ohio (2-1)
• Won two of three games at Furman last weekend. Although the RedHawks lost on Opening Day, 10-2, they came back to beat the Paladins in game two, 8-2, and game three, 12-11.
• Lost to Michigan State, 4-1, last season on March 7 in Lakeland, Fla.
• Picked to finish second in the MAC East, behind Kent State.
• Finished the 2011 season with a 35-25 record, the program's most wins since 2005, and advanced to the tournament's championship game after going through bracket play undefeated.
• Went 18-9 in the MAC last season, the most conference wins for the program since registering 19 in 2003.
• A total of 15 letterwinners return for 2012. • Series History: MSU leads, 4-1

Furman (2-3)
• Returns 20 letterwinners and five position starters from the 2011 team; also brings back all three weekend starting pitchers.
• Lost two of three games to Miami-Ohio last weekend.
• Defeated Presbyterian on Tuesday, 7-5, but fell to South Carolina-Upstate, 17-3, on Wednesday.
• Went 24-33 last season and finished seventh in the Southern Conference with a 13-16 league mark.
• Picked to finish ninth this season in the SoCon, as selected by the league's coaches.
• Fell to Michigan State, 7-3, at last year's First Pitch Invitational at Fluor Field.
• Coach Ron Smith is in his 19th season at the helm of the Paladin program and owns a 440-541-3 record.
• Series History: MSU leads, 4-1