April 29, 2010
Michigan State (28-11, 7-5) vs. Penn State (17-23, 4-8)
Medlar Field at Lubrano Park University Park, Pa.
GameTracker available at MSUSpartans.com
Friday, April 30 6:35 p.m.
Jr. RHP A.J. Achter (4-2, 3.27) vs. Fr. RHP Steven Hill (2-4, 5.15)
Saturday, May 1 2:05 p.m.
Jr. RHP Kurt Wunderlich (7-1, 2.97) vs. Sr. RHP Mike Wanamaker (2-2, 6.81)
Saturday, May 2 1:05 p.m.
So. RHP Tony Bucciferro (6-3, 4.19) vs. So. RHP Ryan Ignas (3-3, 5.83)
Spartans Start Second Half of Big Ten Schedule at Penn State
With 12 conference games down and 12 to go, the Spartans will start the second half of their Big Ten schedule with a three-game series at Penn State this weekend. Game one will be Friday at 6:35 p.m. Michigan State enters the weekend with a 7-5 league record and tied with Michigan, Ohio State and Northwestern for first place.
The Nittany Lions are 2-3 in their last five games and took two of three from Ohio State last weekend in Columbus. The Spartans are 4-1 in their last five and won the last two games of a three-game set with Illinois last weekend in East Lansing.
The Spartans defeated Eastern Michigan twice this week, 5-1 and 4-0.
Defense Remains One of the Best
After four consecutive weeks of the leading the nation in fielding percentage, the Spartans dropped to second overall with a fielding percentage of .980 when the NCAA statistics were released on Tuesday. Entering the weekend, the Green and White have committed just 30 errors this season - the lowest the conference.
MSU has gone errorless in 16 games this season and committed one or less errors in 32 of its 39 games.
The Spartans have received production up and down the lineup this season, combining to rank second in the Big Ten in batting average (.333), on-base percentage (.407) and first in runs (323).
With 20 triples this season, MSU leads the Big Ten and ranked eighth in the nation when national statistics were released on Tuesday. The Spartans' .54 triples per game average ranked seventh nationally as of Tuesday.
Starting Pitchers Going Deep in Conference Games
All three weekend starting pitchers rank in the top-seven in the league in innings pitched in Big Ten games. A.J. Achter is fourth with 30.1 innings, Kurt Wunderlich is fifth with 29.2 innings and Tony Bucciferro ranks seventh with 27.0 innings in Big Ten games.
Putting Up Runs
Michigan State entered the week 32nd in the nation in scoring with an average of 8.5 runs-per-game. MSU has scored in double digits 14 times this season and its 319 runs lead the Big Ten. MSU has put up double-digit hits on 26 different occasions this season, going 22-4 in those games.
Off and Running
The Spartans rank second in the Big Ten in stolen bases with 75. At the time NCAA statistics were released on Tuesday, MSU ranked 28th nationally in stolen bases per game at 1.95. With 75 stolen bags through 39 games, the Spartans have already eclipsed their total from last season (71). 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 39 games of this season and all 54 games last season:
MSU has scored 323 runs this season, six more than it scored in all of 2009.
The Spartans have 86 doubles and 20 triples this season, compared to 77 and 8, respectively, all of last season.
The Spartan defense has committed just 30 errors this season after making a total of 70 last year.
Freshman Pitchers Shine
In consecutive starts against Eastern Michigan this week, freshman pitchers Tony Wieber and Andrew Waszak combined for 13 strikeouts and allowed just five hits in a total of 14 innings pitched in the two wins. Weber had a no-hitter working through five innings of the Spartans' 5-1 win over the Eagles on April 27 and Waszak allowed just two hits in 7.2 innings in MSU's 4-0 win on April 28.
Spartans Take Series from Illinois For First Time Since 2003
After falling, 4-3, in extra-innings in game one of a doubleheader last weekend against Illinois, the Spartans went on to outscore the Illini, 26-3, in the final two games. The two wins snapped a five-game skid against Illinois and it marked the first time the Spartans won a series against the Illini since 2003.
Roberts Climbing The Charts
With 215 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 just one behind sixth-place Dave Veres.
With 124 RBI, Roberts' is just two RBI away from moving into the MSU career RBI top-10 list.
The Spartans are currently No. 70 in the most recent RPI. It is the second-highest ranking for a Big Ten team behind Michigan (65). Ohio State is only other conference team in the RPI top-100, as the Buckeyes are currently 91st.
As a team, the Spartans lead the Big Ten with 297 RBI.
Young Infield Up to the Task
Through 39 games, Spartan freshmen Torsten Boss and Ryan Jones have become a solid part of the Spartans' reliable infield. Jones, a redshirt freshman, has made 34 starts and ranks third on the team with a .382 batting average. Entering the weekend, he has committed just two errors in 154 chances. Boss, a true freshman, has made 28 starts, including 23 at third base, and is currently hitting .330 with 11 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 fourth in the Big Ten in walks with 148 and rank in the bottom half of the league (seventh) in strikeouts with 217. MSU's .407 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 sixth in the Big Ten with five saves. It's 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.