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Spartans Head to South Carolina for First Pitch Invitational

Feb. 24, 2011

Michigan State at First Pitch Invitational
 Multimedia Weekend Preview
 Podcasts Coach Boss | Brandon Eckerle | Jeff Holm
 Social Media Updates @statebaseball | Facebook

Game 1 vs. Charleston Southern (2-2)
 Date | Time Friday, Feb. 25 | 7 p.m.
 Location Greenville, S.C. | Fluor Field
 Notes Michigan State | Charleston Southern
 Pitching Matchup MSU: Sr. RH Kurt Wunderlich (1-0, 1.29 ERA) vs.

Game 2 vs. Furman (4-2)
 Date | Time Saturday, Feb. 26 | 4 p.m.
 Location Greenville, S.C. | Fluor Field
 Coverage Live stats available at
 Notes Michigan State | Furman
 Pitching Matchup MSU: Jr. RH Tony Bucciferro (0-0, 3.60 ERA) vs.
FUR: Jr. RH Bobby Lyne (0-0, 4.15 ERA)

Game 3 vs. No. 6 Clemson
 Date | Time Sunday, Feb. 27 | 1 p.m.
 Location Greenville, S.C. | Fluor Field
 Notes Michigan State | Clemson
 Pitching Matchup MSU: So. RH Andrew Waszak (1-0, 1.80 ERA) vs.
CU: So. RH Kevin Brady (1-0, 1.69 ERA)

1) With its 8-4 victory over Cincinnati last Sunday, the Michigan State baseball team is off to its best start since 1992 as the Spartans won all three of their games in the Big East/Big Ten Challenge.

2) The Spartans defeated Notre Dame, Seton Hall and UC in becoming the only Big Ten team to go undefeated at the event. Louisville was the only Big East team to go 3-0 at the Challenge.

3) Overall, the Big East won the Challenge, 14-10.

4) Senior center fielder Brandon Eckerle led the way for MSU at the plate over weekend, going 8-for-12 (.667) with two stolen bases and two RBIs, including the game-winning RBI in the 5-4 win over Seton Hall. He was named the Most Valuable Position Player of the tournament by

5) Sophomore third baseman Torsten Boss went 5-for-11 (.455) with two doubles, a triple and two RBIs, while senior first baseman Jeff Holm hit .364 (4-for-11) with five RBIs, including a three-run homer against Cincinnati. Holm was also named to the all-tournament team.

6) As a team, the Spartans hit .343 and collected 34 hits - 11 of them for extra bases.

7) On the mound, the Spartan staff compiled a 2.42 ERA, best in the Big Ten through the season's first weekend. Senior Kurt Wunderlich earned the win on Opening Day against Notre Dame, allowing just one run and six hits in seven innings of work. On Saturday against Seton Hall, freshman David Garner struck out three in four scoreless innings of relief to pick up the win in his collegiate debut. Sophomore Andrew Waszak threw five innings and struck out two to get the victory on Sunday.

8) Michigan State will look to continue its hot start this weekend (Feb. 25-27) at the First Pitch Invitational in Greenville, S.C. MSU will take on Charleston Southern (2-2) on Friday at 7 p.m., Furman (4-2) on Saturday at 4 p.m., and No. 6 Clemson (2-1) on Sunday at 1 p.m.

9) All of the games this weekend will be played at Fluor Field, home the Greenville Drive, a Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. The park, which opened in 2006, is modeled after Fenway Park. Fluor Field boasts its own "Green Monster," a 30-foot high wall in left field, equipped with a manual scoreboard. The dimensions all around the outfield wall are to the same specifications as Fenway Park, including "Pesky's Pole" in right field.

Michigan State...
• last started 3-0 in 1992. MSU hasn't started 4-0 since winning the first seven games of the 1964 season under Danny Litwhiler.

• is the only undefeated team remaining in the Big Ten.

• leads the conference in both hitting (.343) and ERA (2.42).

• went 3-0 at the Big East/Big Ten Challenge for the first time in the event's three-year history.

• has won four straight Opening Day games after defeating Notre Dame in the season opener, 2-1.

• won 34 games last season, the most of any team in the Big Ten; the 34 wins tied for the fifth-most in program history.

• led the Big Ten in 2010 with a .975 fielding percentage; that mark ranked 19th nationally.

• ranked among the Big Ten leaders in nearly every statistical category in 2010, including batting (second at .325), triples (second with 22), runs (third with 415) and slugging (third at .471).

• was third in the league in ERA last season.

• narrowly missed a bid to the 2010 Big Ten Tournament on the last day of the regular season, but still was rewarded with seven players on the All-Big Ten Team, tying for the second-most all-league selections in school history.

No. 27 Jeff Holm • 1B • Sr. • St. Charles, Ill. • North High School
• Stats: .364 BA, 1 HR, 1 2B, 5 RBI, 4 H, 3 R
• Senior captain will be in his third full season as the starting first baseman.
• Third-team All-Big Ten selection in 2010.
• Named the most underrated hitter in the Big Ten by
• Led MSU with five RBIs at the Big East/Big Ten Challenge, including a three-run homer against Cincinnati.
• Named to the All-Tournament Team for the Big East/Big Ten Challenge.
• Owns a .332 career batting average with 151 hits, 106 runs scored and 43 stolen bases in 126 career games, including 123 starts.
• Named the No. 5 Big Ten prospect for the 2011 MLB Draft according to Baseball America and Perfect Game.
• Selected one of 30 "Players to Watch" in the conference by the Big Ten coaches.
• Named the 2010 Prospect League Player of the Year for nearly winning the Triple Crown; led the summer league in home runs (11) and RBIs (60) and finished second in batting (.359).

No. 10 Ryan Jones • 2B • So. • Haslett, Mich. • Haslett High School
• Stats: .364 BA, 0 HR, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 4 H, 3 R
• Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American and Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2010.
• Also named second-team All-Big Ten
• Selected one of 30 "Players to Watch" in the conference by the Big Ten coaches.
• Named the No. 13 prospect in the Great Lakes Collegiate League by Perfect Game; earned first-team All-Great Lakes League accolades in 2010 playing for the Southern Ohio Copperheads, ranking third in the league with a .385 average.

No. 7 Torsten Boss • 3B • So. • Lowell, Mich. • Lowell High School
• Stats: .455 BA, 0 HR, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 RBI, 5 H, 2 R
• Named second-team All-Big Ten and also to the All-Big Ten Freshman Team in 2010.
• Named a preseason All-Big Ten selection by Perfect Game.
• Selected one of 30 "Players to Watch" in the conference by the Big Ten coaches.
• Named the No. 1 Big Ten prospect for the 2012 MLB Draft by Perfect Game.

No. 14 Brandon Eckerle • CF • Sr. • Durand, Mich. • Corunna High School
• Stats: .667 BA, 0 HR, 2 SB, 2 RBI
• Named Most Valuable Position Player at the Big East/Big Ten Challenge after going 8-for-12 (.667) at the plate.
• Went 4-for-4 against Seton Hall and drove in the game-winning run on a bunt in the sixth inning.
• Third-team Academic All-American for his 3.98 GPA in general business administration/pre-law.
• Has started 110 consecutive games at center field and 142 for his career.
• Hit a career-high .362 at the plate as a junior, and finished the season ranked among MSU's single-season leaders in stolen bases (fourth with 22), hits (fifth with 81) and runs (seventh with 57).
• Named one of 30 candidates for the 2011 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award.

Charleston Southern (2-2)
• Opened the season by dropping a series to North Florida last weekend.
• Rebounded by defeating Furman, 5-3, at home on Tuesday.
• The Bucs finished last season 17-38 overall and 6-20 in the Big South Conference.

Furman (4-2)
• Swept Ohio in a four-game series last weekend to open the season.
• Dropped a 5-3 game at Charleston Southern Tuesday and a 6-4 game at Georgia on Wednesday.
• The Paladins, members of the Southern Conference, return 21 lettermen from last season's team that went 19-37 overall and 11-19 in SoCon play.
• MSU defeated Furman, 8-6, on Opening Day last season in Greenville, S.C.

No. 6 Clemson (2-1)
• The Tigers return 20 letterwinners from last season's team that went 45-25 and advanced to the College World Series. The Tigers are ranked as high as sixth in the nation by Collegiate Baseball, and are also ranked by 11th by Baseball America.
• Clemson opened the 2011 season by taking two of three against Eastern Michigan.
• The Spartans lead the overall series against Clemson, 9-6-1, but the Tigers have won three straight against MSU. Clemson beat Michigan State twice in the 2009 season, 15-2 and 6-1, and also won last year at Fluor Field, 10-2. Sunday will mark the third meeting between the two teams in Greenville, S.C.
• On the mound, Kurt Wunderlich started against Clemson in 2009, and Tony Bucciferro had a start vs. the Tigers in 2010. At the plate, Jeff Holm hit a solo homer against Clemson on March 10, 2009.
• The series dates back to 1935, as the Tigers won the first meeting in Clemson, S.C., 5-0. The Spartans went on to win nine of the next 12 games in the series, all at Clemson. Legendary MSU head coach John Kobs, who led the Spartans program from 1925-63, was 9-3-1 in his career vs. Clemson.



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