Spartans Host Iowa This Weekend
May 10, 2012
With a 31-16 record, the Spartans are also in the mix for an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament. MSU enters the weekend with an RPI of 42 (according to Boyd's World) and owns two wins over RPI Top 10 teams (No. 4 Baylor, No. 9 Purdue). In addition, the Spartans have played eight games against RPI Top 50 teams.
MSU has won 11 of its last 15 games and five of its last six, including a road series win at Illinois last weekend and victories over Western Michigan and Toledo earlier this week. The win over Western Michigan gave Michigan State its 30th victory of the season, marking the first time in program history the Spartans have posted three straight seasons with at least 30 wins.
Iowa is ninth in the Big Ten with a 7-11 conference mark and is 19-24 overall. The Hawkeyes' lone Big Ten series win came in the opener against Northwestern; since then, they have lost series to Indiana, Nebraska, Penn State, Minnesota and Michigan.
Last season, the Spartans opened their Big Ten Championship season by taking two of three on the road in Iowa City. Friday starter Tony Bucciferro nearly threw a complete game against the Hawkeyes in the second game of the series, pitching 8 2/3 innings while allowing just one run on eight hits in the 7-1 victory. Torsten Boss had an excellent series at the plate, batting .417 (5-for-12) with a homer and six RBIs.
MSU, which plays six of its last seven regular-season games at home, returns to action Tuesday, May 15 for the second annual "Clash at Comerica" against Central Michigan at Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers. The game is being televised on BTN and will start at 7 p.m.
WHO'S HOT FOR THE SPARTANS
At the plate...
Since returning to the starting lineup the past six games, freshman center fielder Anthony Cheky leads the team with a .435 batting average (10-for-23) and has four stolen bases.
Junior second baseman Ryan Jones leads the team with a .359 batting average in Big Ten games. He became the 15th Spartan to cross the 200-career hit mark during MSU's win at Indiana on April 15 and currently has 224 career hits, which is eighth all-time in MSU history.
Junior catcher John Martinez is batting .333 (10-for-30) in his past 10 games, including a team-best four doubles to go along with seven RBIs.
On the mound...
Sophomore left-handed reliever Jeff Kinley has not allowed a run in his last 27 1/3 innings, spanning 11 outings. Kinley is 5-0 with a save during that stretch with 23 strikeouts.
Senior right-hander reliever Bryce Jenney has only allowed one run in his last 8 2/3 innings (1.04 ERA), including a five-inning save at Western Michigan on May 8.
HEATING UP AT THE PLATE
MSU collected season highs in runs (20) and hits (25) in the 20-10 win at Indiana on April 15 in the second game of a doubleheader.
For the season, Michigan State has outscored its opponents by 112 runs (294-182).
SPARTANS POST THIRD STRAIGHT 30-WIN SEASON FOR FIRST TIME IN SCHOOL HISTORY
The Spartans have posted 30-win seasons 13 times in program history.
Coach Boss ranks tied for second with Danny Litwhiler for the most 30-win seasons (3) in school history; Tom Smith is first with five.
SPARTAN PITCHING STAFF LEADS THE WAY
Entering the week, the Spartans ranked among the Top 50 nationally in hits allowed (25th), ERA (29th) and walks allowed (34th).
Michigan State held Purdue - which entered their series No. 3 in the nation in hitting and 15th in scoring - to just 10 runs all weekend, a season low for the Boilermakers in a weekend series. Purdue hit just .221 and MSU posted a 1.50 team ERA.
ON THE RADAR FOR FIRST NCAA BID SINCE 1979
MSU appeared as a No. 3 seed in this week's ESPN Bracketology that projected the NCAA Tournament field.
MSU was listed as a No. 4 seed in last week's projected field by CollegeBaseballDaily.com.
In the latest NCAA RPI rankings released May 8, MSU came in at No. 44. The Spartans are No. 42 in the latest RPI ratings by Boyd's World (as of May 10).
The Spartans have played four Top 50 RPI teams (Boyd's World): No. 4 Baylor, No. 9 Purdue, No. 17 Texas A&M and No. 47 Louisville.
MSU is 9-1 in midweek games this season.
Michigan State is 14-1 in non-conference games since March 16.
Since the beginning of the 2010 season, Michigan State has won 101 games, second only to Purdue in the Big Ten Conference (107).
KEUR RANKS SECOND IN THE BIG TEN IN HITTING
Keur also is tied for first in the league in hits (76), which ranks among the top 25 in the country.
In addition, Keur ranks among the league leaders in on-base percentage (tied for second at .457), doubles (tied for sixth with 13) and runs (seventh with 41). Keur has batted cleanup in the order the past five games.
Tony Bucciferro MOVING UP IN RECORD BOOK
Bucciferro ranks second in the Big Ten in strikeouts (67), fifth in innings pitched (82.1) and ninth in opposing batting average (.245).
COMFORTABLE AT NO. 2
SOLID AT SECOND
Jones, who currently ranks eighth in MSU history with 224 career hits, is one of just 15 Spartans to collect at least 200 hits. He ranks tied for first in the Big Ten along with teammate Jordan Keur with 76 hits.
Jones is also fifth in program history with 41 doubles.
Jones also ranks among the Big Ten leaders in batting (third at .367), total bases (fourth with 100), sac flies (tied for second with 5) and on-base percentage (eighth at .433).
After batting in all four spots in the order for half of the season, Jones has batted leadoff the past 15 games (MSU: 11-4).
Also an excellent defensive player, Jones ranks third in the Big Ten with 150 assists.
Last summer, Jones was named to the Cape Cod League All-Star Team while playing for the Brewster Whitecaps. He finished 17th in the CCL with a .283 average during the 44-game regular season, and had a hit and a run in the CCL All-Star Game at Fenway Park on July 29.
During his All-Big Ten campaign as a sophomore, Jones collected a school-record 33-game hitting streak from March 6 to May 8. It tied for the longest hitting streak in the nation in 2011.
Boss also leads the team with 30 walks and ranks tied for first in steals (11) and triples (3).
Named a third-team preseason Louisville Slugger All-American, Boss has a career average of .348 with 18 homers and 140 RBIs, and ranks tied for seventh in MSU history with 39 doubles. He was a second-team All-Big Ten choice in 2010 and a first-team all-league selection in 2011 as a third baseman.
Boss, who has 198 career hits, needs just two more to become the 16th Spartan in school history to record at least 200 hits.
He began the season by starting 10 games in center field, but is now back at third base to solidify the Spartan infield defensively.
Ranked the No. 10 prospect in the Big Ten according to Baseball America, Boss has hit two of his five home runs this season against preseason All-Americans. In front of numerous scouts against St. John's, Boss delivered a solo homer in his first at-bat of 2012 off of preseason All-American Kyle Hansen, hitting a 94-mph fastball over the left-center field wall. In his first at-bat in College Station, Texas, Boss hit another solo blast, this time against preseason Big 12 Pitcher of the Year Michael Wacha. An All-American last season, Wacha is ranked the No. 10 junior in the nation by Baseball America.
YOUTH IS SERVED
First baseman/catcher Blaise Salter (38th round, Detroit), first baseman Ryan Krill (40th round, Detroit), outfielder Jimmy Pickens (41st round, Detroit) and right-handed pitcher Mick VanVossen (49th round, Texas) are members of a nine-man recruiting class that has seen significant playing time this spring.
Pickens has started 38 games in right field this season and leads the team with six homers. He was named the Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week on May 7 after batting .500 (6-for-12) with a homer and seven RBIs in the series win at Illinois.
Krill has started 32 games at first base and is batting .289 with two homers, eight doubles and 21 RBIs. He was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week on April 16 after hitting .619 (13-for-21) in MSU's five games during the week (vs. Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan, Indiana).
Salter has seen time in the starting lineup as a designated hitter and is batting .283 with 13 hits in 46 at-bats.
VanVossen is 3-0 with a 4.06 ERA; MSU is 5-0 in games he has started.
Anthony Cheky has started 26 games in center field and owns a .292 batting average. He is tied for team lead with 11 stolen bases and has a perfect fielding percentage.
Three freshmen made their first career starts on Opening Day against St. John's: Krill at first base, Pickens in right field, and Kevin Goergen at third base.
QUICK LOOK AT IOWA (19-24, 7-11)
Iowa is coming off a series loss to Michigan last weekend. The Hawkeyes did not play a midweek game prior to arriving in East Lansing.
Senior left fielder Phil Keppler leads the team with a .342 batting average, followed by senior first baseman Mike McQuillan, who is hitting .335.
In non-conference games, MSU and Iowa shared two opponents: Pittsburgh and Notre Dame. The Spartans fell to Pittsburgh and defeated Notre Dame, while Iowa reversed its decisions with a victory over the Panthers and a loss to the Irish.
Iowa is 3-9 in true road games this season (3-6 Big Ten).
LAST YEAR VS. IOWA
Torsten Boss led MSU at the plate by batting .417 (5-for-12) with a home run and six RBIs. In six career games against Iowa, Boss owns a .409 average (9-for-22) with two homers and 12 RBIs.
Tony Bucciferro is 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA in three starts against Iowa. He has allowed just six earned runs in 22 innings. Last season, he gave up one run in 8 2/3 innings in the 7-1 victory in the second game of the series.
Senior left-handed Hawkeye starter Jared Hippen, who will start on Sunday, allowed six runs on six hits with five strikeouts to take the loss in the opening game of last year's series. In 2010, Hippen pitched a complete game, yielding just three runs on seven hits as Iowa won the first game of the series, 5-3.
Iowa Friday starter Matt Dermody, a junior lefty, pitched five innings to earn the win over MSU in the series finale last year. Dermody allowed eight hits on five runs and fanned five.
Spartan starter David Garner took the loss in last year's season finale after surrendering six runs, four earned, on nine hits in just four innings.
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