April 22, 2010
Illinois (17-16, 4-5) vs. Michigan State (24-10, 5-4)
McLane Baseball Stadium at Kobs Field East Lansing, Mich.
GameTracker available at MSUSpartans.com
Friday, April 23 12:05 p.m. (DH)
RHP Jr. Lee Zerrusen (2-3, 5.68) vs. Jr. RHP A.J. Achter (4-2, 3.30)
RHP Fr. Kevin Johnson (3-1, 5.21) vs. Jr. RHP Kurt Wunderlich (6-1, 3.23)
Saturday, April 24 12:05 p.m.
RHP So. Will Strack (1-2, 6.75) vs. So. RHP Tony Bucciferro (5-3, 4.72)
Pitching matchups probable and subject to change
Spartans Host Illinois
With just two games separating eight teams in the Big Ten race, Michigan State hosts Illinois this weekend in a critical three-game set. Due to potentially inclement weather on Saturday and Sunday, the series will now begin Friday at 12:05 p.m. with a doubleheader. Saturday's game is still scheduled to begin at 12:05 p.m.
Defense Still First
For the fourth consecutive week, the Spartans rank as the nation's top defensive team. When NCAA statistics were released on Tuesday, the Spartans' then .981 fielding percentage led the country. Entering the weekend, the Green and White have committed a nation-low 23 errors this season - four less than second-place Duke.
MSU has gone error-less in 15 games this season and committed one or less errors in 27 of its 34 games.
The Spartans have received production up and down the lineup this season, combining to rank second in the Big Ten in batting average (.332), on-base percentage (.417) and runs (285).
With 19 triples this season, MSU leads the Big Ten and ranked ninth in the nation when national statistics were released on Tuesday. The Spartans' .56 triples per game average ranked sixth nationally as of Tuesday.
Putting Up Runs
Michigan State entered the week 27th in the nation in scoring with an average of 8.6 runs-per-game. MSU has scored in double digits 12 times this season and its 285 runs rank second in the Big Ten.
MSU has put up double-digit hits on 23 different occasions this season, going 19-4 in those games. However, three of those loses when the Spartans have recorded at least 10 hits have come in the last six games.
Off and Running
The Spartans rank second in the Big Ten in stolen bases with 71 - just five behind first-place Illinois. At the time NCAA statistics were released on Tuesday, MSU ranked 20th nationally in stolen bases per game at 2.13. With 71 stolen bags through 34 games, the Spartans have already matched their total from last season. The school record for stolen bases in a season is 98, set in 2005.
Improvement All Around
Having already eclipsed last season's win total, it's needless to say the Spartans have improved in nearly every facet of the game. Here is a look at some of the more impressive comparisons between the Spartans first 34 games of this season and all 54 games last season:
MSU has scored 285 runs this season, just 32 less than it scored in all of 2009.
The Spartans have 71 doubles and 19 triples this season, compared to 77 and 8, respectively, all of last season. The Spartan defense has committed just 27 errors this season after making a total of 70 last year.
Roberts Climbing The Charts
With 209 career hits, senior Chris Roberts currently stands alone in seventh place on the school's all-time hits list. Bob Malek (2000-02) holds the school record with 245 career hits. Roberts enters the weekend seven hits behind sixth-place Dave Veres.
With 123 RBI, Roberts' is just three RBI away from moving into the MSU career RBI top-10 list.
The Spartans are currently No. 74 in the most recent RPI. It is the third-highest ranking for a Big Ten team behind Michigan (57) and Ohio State (67).
As a team, the Spartans' 261 RBI rank second in the Big Ten.
Young Infield Up to the Task
Through 34 games, Spartan freshmen Torsten Boss and Ryan Jones have become a solid part of the Spartans reliable infield. Jones, a redshirt freshman, has made 29 starts and ranks second on the team with a .387 batting average. Entering the weekend, he has committed just two errors in 131 chances. Boss, a true freshman, has made 23 starts, including 18 at third base, and is currently hitting .315 with seven extra-base hits.
Andrew Carpenter, a redshirt freshman, has 15 RBI this season and has made just one error in 16 starts at third base.
Patience at the Place
The Spartans have demonstrated a high degree of patience at the plate this season, as they rank in a tie for third in the Big Ten in walks with 140 and rank in the bottom half of the league (eighth) in strikeouts with 198. MSU's .412 on-base percentage is second best in the conference.
Eckerle's Six Hits
Earlier this season in MSU's 26-11 win over Iowa, junior center fielder Brandon Eckerle tied a Big Ten record with six hits. He became the sixth player in conference history to record six hits in a conference game.
Frymier Saving the Day
Senior reliever Kurtis Frymier currently ranks in a tie for fifth in the Big Ten with five saves. Its the most saves by a Spartan pitcher since Mike Monterey's seven saves in 2007. With one more save, Frymier will move into the MSU single-season top 10.
Spartans Get Big Series Win
The Spartans took two of three games from Minnesota earlier this season in the Metrodome. It marked the first time the Spartans won in Minneapolis since 2001 and it was the first series win over the Gophers in the Twin Cities since 1954.
Offense Piles Up The Runs
The Spartans' 45-run outburst in its three-game series with Iowa matched its largest run total for a three-game series since also tallying 45 against Charlotte in 2002. MSU's 26 runs in Sunday's win were the most ever scored by a Spartan team against a Division I opponent and the most since March 28, 1991, when they defeated Siena Heights, 26-1.
Michigan State swept consecutive series earlier this season against Oakland (March 26-28) in East Lansing and Notre Dame (March 20-22), in South Bend, Ind. It's the second season in a row that MSU has swept teams consecutively: Last season, it had back-to-back series sweeps over Iowa (April 24-26) and Penn State (May 1-3). Prior to that, the Spartans' last consecutive series sweeps came against Charleston Southern and Eastern Kentucky in March 2002.
Best Start Since `71
At 22-7, the Spartans posted their best 29-game start since the 1971 team that went 24-5. MSU's 11-game winning streak earlier this season was its longest since 2004 when it won 12 in row.