Baseball Takes on Michigan in Home-and-Home, Non-Conference Series
March 23, 2011
Please note: Friday's game in Ann Arbor has been moved up to 3 p.m.
STARTING NINE: SPARTANS PLAY MICHIGAN IN HOME-AND-HOME, NON-CONFERENCE SERIES
2) The Spartans enter the Michigan series with a 12-5 record after losing two of three on the road at Evansville (9-7) last weekend. MSU won the first game of the series, 10-3, after rallying back to score eight runs in the top of the ninth, but was shut out on Saturday, 2-0, and fell in the rubber match on Sunday, 6-5.
3) Michigan is 6-12 after winning all three of its games against Alma, Oakland and Eastern Michigan in the Oestrike Classic in Ypsilanti, Mich., last weekend. The Wolverines lost their first seven games of the year before defeating Massachusetts on March 4.
4) MSU defeated Michigan in Ann Arbor, 13-10, in the only meeting between the two teams in 2010. The game in East Lansing was cancelled due to weather. In their last Big Ten series in 2009, MSU won two of the three games. Overall, Spartan head coach Jake Boss is 3-1 against Michigan during his tenure in East Lansing. The series between the two schools dates all the way back to Michigan State's first official year of baseball in 1884.
5) Senior center fielder Brandon Eckerle is off to a torrid start at the plate. He leads the Big Ten in batting (.500), on-base percentage (.556) and hits (36), all numbers which rank in the top 12 nationally (third in batting, ninth in hits, 12th in OBP). He also the leads the team with 11 multi-hit games. Eckerle recorded his 200th career hit in the Evansville series, and is currently 12th in MSU history with 201 career hits. The Durand, Mich., native was named Big Ten Co-Player of the Week Feb. 28 after hitting 8-for-11 at the plate (.727) at the First Pitch Invitational, and was named the Big East/Big Ten Challenge Tournament MVP for his .667 batting average (8-for-12) at the event.
6) Senior first baseman Jeff Holm is making the most of his senior season, currently ranking second in the Big Ten in batting (.421) and on-base percentage (.493) and fourth in slugging (.625). He was named the Big Ten Co-Player of the Week for the first time in his career on March 14 after hitting .500 (8-for-16) with eight RBIs in leading MSU to a 4-0 record that week during spring break. Holm also leads the Big Ten with 20 RBIs and 10 stolen bases.
6) Michigan State leads the Big Ten and ranks sixth in the nation with a .335 team batting average. The top three hitters in the conference are all from MSU (Eckerle at .500; Holm at .421; Boss at .412).
7) Sophomore third baseman/right fielder Torsten Boss is having an excellent all-around season at the plate. Boss ranks among Big Ten leaders in seven statistical categories: batting (third at .412), slugging (second at .651), on-base percentage (fourth at .473), doubles (tied for second with eight), hits (seventh with 26), triples (tied for second with two), and total bases (tied for third with 41).
8) On the mound, the Spartan pitching staff ranks first in the Big Ten in ERA (2.74) and fewest walks allowed (45). The Spartans have allowed just 57 runs, 10 fewer than any other team in the conference. The 2.74 team ERA ranks 26th in the nation.
9) Senior Kurt Wunderlich is off to a 3-1 start on the mound and has won 19 games for his career, which ranks sixth best in Spartan history. Wunderlich ranks third in the Big Ten in innings pitched (32.2), and also ranks fourth in ERA (1.93) and strikeouts (26).
OFF THE BENCH: QUICK HITTERS
is tied for first in the Big Ten with 33 stolen bases, which ranks 31st in the country.
got off to its best 15-start (12-3) since 2002, when the Spartans started out 13-2.
won its first five games of the season for the first time since 1964 (7-0). It marked just the seventh time in program history Michigan State has started the season 5-0.
went 3-0 at the Big East/Big Ten Challenge for the first time in the event's three-year history.
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.
LAST MEETING: MSU 13, MICHIGAN 10 (MAY 12, 2010)
CROSSTOWN SHOWDOWN TICKETS ON SALE
This year's Crosstown Showdown will be held Tuesday, April 5 at Cooley Law School Stadium in Downtown Lansing. The game has drawn record crowds, including a stadium-record 12,992 fans for the 2009 game in which the Spartans won, 12-2. The annual event began in 2007.
at the official