Big Ten Leaders Michigan State and Purdue Meet This Weekend in East Lansing
May 6, 2011
BIG TEN LEADERS MICHIGAN STATE AND PURDUE TO MEET THIS WEEKEND IN EAST LANSING
The series begins Friday at 3:05 p.m., while Saturday and Sunday's games will start at 1:05 p.m. A live broadcast of all three games will be available for free at spartansportsnetwork.com and also on the Spartan Sports Network Mobile App for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices.
"They're all big this time of year, regardless of who you're playing or where you're at in the conference standings," said MSU head coach Jake Boss. "Purdue is going to be a very talented team. We're going to have to play well all weekend in order to beat them."
The Spartans are coming off a 7-1 loss on Wednesday to Western Michigan. Purdue, who has won eight of its last 10, did not play a midweek game.
The series will feature the top two offenses in the Big Ten, as Purdue and Michigan State rank 1-2 in the league in batting (.318/.316), runs (332/242) and hits (489/449).
"The two offenses are very similar," said Boss. "We've both had a bit of success and are 1-2 in the conference in hitting. At the same time, when you get to your top guys on your pitching staff, it's a chance they're going to be low-scoring games. I would expect it to be a very competitive series - I think they'll be close games all three days. I wouldn't be surprised to see low-scoring games at all."
Last season, the Boilermakers took two of three games in the series at West Lafayette, Ind. During his tenure in East Lansing, Coach Boss is 2-4 against Purdue.
"Purdue forces you to make plays, similar to what we try to do," Boss said. "They run a lot, and we run a lot. They also use the short game a lot just like us."
Individually, sophomore second baseman Ryan Jones will look to extend his school-record 30-game hitting streak this weekend.
"Ryan has the type of swing mechanically that allows him to be really consistent," said Boss. "He hits a lot of line drives and a lot of ground balls, and he runs well. When he's putting the ball in play, he always has a chance."
2) Michigan State ranks second in the Big Ten with a .316 team batting average, while Purdue ranks first at .318 . . . MSU entered the week ranked 12th nationally in batting . . . Five of the top 10 hitters in the conference are from MSU (Eckerle first at .389; Holm second at .371; Hook third at .368; Jones seventh at .364; Boss 10th at .359) . . . the Spartans also have the ability to play small ball, ranking third in the Big Ten and 54th in the country in stolen bases (68) and also second in sacrifice bunts (43) and sacrifice flies (24).
3) Senior Kurt Wunderlich is off to a 7-1 start on the mound and has won 23 games for his career, which ranks third in Spartan history . . . The seven wins rank first in the Big Ten . . . Wunderlich also ranks third in innings pitched (71.2) and strikeouts (53) and eighth in ERA (3.01).
4) Senior center fielder Brandon Eckerle has hit at a torrid pace all season long, as he leads the Big Ten in batting (.389) . . . He has led the conference in batting since the first weekend of the season . . . Eckerle also leads the team with 22 multi-hit games . . . He has at least one hit in 33 of MSU's 41 games this season . . . Eckerle recorded his 200th career hit in the Evansville series, and is currently fourth in MSU history with 235 career hits (MSU career record: 245) . . . The Durand, Mich., native was recently named one of 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award; to be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition.
5) Senior first baseman Jeff Holm is making the most of his senior season, currently ranking second in the Big Ten in both batting (.371) and slugging (.579) . . . His six homers are already a career high and are tied for third most in the conference . . . Holm ranks among the top 10 leaders in the Big Ten in nine different statistical categories (batting, slugging, on-base percentage, RBIs, hits, home runs, total bases, sacrifice flies and stolen bases).
6) Sophomore third baseman Torsten Boss is having an excellent all-around season at the plate . . . Boss ranks among Big Ten leaders in seven statistical categories: batting (10th at .359), slugging (fifth at .545), on-base percentage (10th at .427), RBIs (tied for fourth with 39), doubles (tied for fourth with 14), sac flies (tied for first with 6), and total bases (tied for sixth at 85).
7) Sophomore Tony Wieber re-entered the starting lineup on April 20 in right field for the "Clash at Comerica" against Central Michigan and responded by getting a double in three at-bats. Since that point, he has hit .438 (14-for-32), including eight doubles and 10 RBIs. Wieber was 2-for-12 in three starts during the first two weekends on the season. On the mound, Wieber is the team's top reliever with a 5-0 record, four saves and a 3.89 ERA. He owns a 9-0 career record as a pitcher.
8) Michigan State is second in the Big Ten with 27 overall victories (Purdue: 30) . . . MSU won more games (34) than any other Big Ten team in 2010.
9) With Kurt Wunderlich on the mound, Michigan State is a perfect 5-0 on Friday games in the Big Ten. Overall, the Spartans are 7-0 in the first game of a series this year. MSU is 10-1 this season in games Wunderlich has started.
at the official