May 19, 2010
Michigan State (33-17, 10-11) vs. Northwestern (22-29, 11-10)
Rocky Miller Park Evanston, Ill.
GameTracker available for all three games on MSUSpartans.com
Thursday, May 20 4 p.m. ET
Jr. RHP A.J. Achter (4-3, 4.37) vs. Jr. LHP Eric Jokisch (4-6, 4.64)
Friday, May 21 4 p.m. ET
Jr. RHP Kurt Wunderlich (7-3, 4.59) vs. So. RHP Francis Brooke (5-4, 4.28)
Saturday, May 22 2 p.m. ET
So. RHP Tony Bucciferro (7-5, 5.18) vs. TBD
Pitching matchups probable and subject to change
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Michigan State Game Notes in PDF
MSU Heads to Northwestern Looking to Clinch Spot in Big Ten Tourney
Michigan State will head to Evanston, Ill., looking to clinch a spot in the Big Ten Tournament in its final conference series of the year. The Spartans enter the series with a 10-11 conference record and join Indiana, Ohio State and Iowa in a four-way tie for fifth place. Northwestern is 11-10 in Big Ten play, 22-29 overall, and in fourth place in the conference heading into Thursday's series opener.
All 10 teams still have the opportunity of qualifying for the six-team conference tournament which begins May 26 in Columbus. Having gone to the Big Ten Tournament last season for the first time since 2004, MSU is looking to make consecutive appearances for the first time since 1983 and 84.
Spartans Go 5-1 in Last Six Heading Into Final Weekend
The Spartans put an end to a five-game conference losing skid by winning the final game of the series at Purdue on May 10. MSU went on to win its next three, defeating Michigan in a non-conference matchup, before taking the first two games of its series with Indiana. In its last game, MSU defeated Central Michigan, 16-9, on Wednesday in Mt. Pleasant.
Over its last five games, MSU is hitting .361 - .034 above their season average. Four Spartans - Chris Roberts
(.500), Ryan Jones
(.458), Brandon Eckerle
(.455) and Jeff Holm
(.455) - are all hitting over .450 in the last five games.
30 Wins and Climbing
At 33-17 on the year, the Spartans have posted their highest win total since the 2004 team also won 33 games. This year's 33 wins also tie the 2004 team for the sixth-most wins in program history as they are the 11th team in school history to win 30 games and just the fourth team since 1993 to eclipse the 30-win mark. The two teams that accomplished the feat this decade were the 2002 (38 wins) and the 2004 (33 wins) teams. Both made the Big Ten Tournament.
Jones Hits For The Cycle
Redshirt freshman Ryan Jones became the first Spartan player in 18 seasons to hit for the cycle when he accomplished the feat last Saturday in a 10-4 win over Indiana. Jones went 5-for-5 in the game as he singled in the first and fifth innings, homered in the third, and tripled in the seventh before his double in the eighth completed the cycle.
The last Spartan to hit for the cycle was Alex Gaygin, who went 4-for-4, on April 6, 1992 in a 10-9 win at Penn State.
Roberts Picks Up Steam
Since going 0-for-2 on May 1 in a loss at Penn State, senior designated hitter Chris Roberts has posted an eight-game hitting streak that has raised his batting average by .034. Currently hitting .322, Roberts has gone 13-32 with 11 RBI over the last eight games. His biggest performance in the past eight games came against Indiana on May 14 when his walk-off RBI single with one out in the ninth inning sealed a 9-8 comeback win.
... Moving Up The Charts, Too
With nine hits in his last four games, Chris Roberts now has 230 for his career, and currently stands alone in fourth place on the school's all-time hits list. Roberts enters the weekend seven behind third-place Mike Pisani (1997-2000). Bob Malek (2000-02) holds the school record with 245 career hits.
With 135 RBI, Roberts is now alone in ninth place on the MSU career list. He trails Rich Juday (1988-91) by by just one for eighth place.
Offense Keeps Pace
The Spartans have received production up and down the lineup this season, and as a team, they rank in the top three in the conference in several offensive key categories, including:
batting average (first, .327), slugging percentage (second, .477), on-base percentage (second, .400), runs (first, 406), hits (second, 591) and runs batted in (second, 370).
Torsten Boss Rides Streak Into The Weekend
Freshman third baseman Torsten Boss heads into play this weekend with a team-high 11-game hitting streak. Boss has started 31 consecutive games at third base and over that time he has gone hitless in just four games. He is currently hitting .344 with 40 RBI and five home runs.
Boss is hitting .397 in Big Ten games which is ninth-best in the conference. His 26 RBI in conference games are tied for the second most in the league.
Roof on Brooks Wallace Award Watch List
Junior shortstop Jonathan Roof was named to the Brooks Wallace Shortstop of the Year Award. Roof is the only player from the Big Ten on the list of 25. This season, Roof enters the weekend with a three-game hitting streak and is hitting .313 with 42 RBI.
Noteable Season Marks
Below is a list of players that have moved into various MSU single-season record top-10 lists. The record holder follows in parentheses:
Brandon Eckerle ranks in a tie for seventh in runs with 55 (Bob Malek - 66, 2002).
Jeff Holm's 21 doubles (Chris McCuiston - 22, 2002) put him in a tie for second place with Bob Malek (2002) while his 23 stolen bases (Steve Preston - 27, 1988) also put him in a tie for second place with Steve Money (1994).
With 22 triples this season, MSU leads the Big Ten and ranked 14th in the nation when national statistics were released on Tuesday. The Spartans' .45 triples per game average ranked 15th nationally as of Tuesday.
Defense Remains One of the Best
The Spartans .974 fielding percentage currently leads the Big Ten and ranked 18th best in the nation entering the week. The Spartans actually led the nation for four consecutive weeks before falling out of the top spot three weeks ago. Entering the weekend, the Green and White have committed just 49 errors this season - by far the lowest the conference as it is 8 less than the next closest school, Minnesota.
MSU has gone errorless in 18 games this season and committed one or less errors in 38 of its 50 games.
Starting Pitchers Going Deep
All three weekend starting pitchers rank in the top-six in the league in innings pitched. A.J. Achter leads the conference with 90.2 innings pitched, Tony Bucciferro ranks fourth with 81.2 and Kurt Wunderlich is tied for sixth with 80.1.
MSU is the only team with three pitchers in the top 10 in innings pitched.
Eckerle Earns Academic All-District Honors
Junior center fielder Brandon Eckerle was elected to the CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District IV First Team. With the honor, Eckerle is now eligible to become an Academic All-American. Eckerle currently carries a 3.97 GPA and is a general business administration/pre-law major.
Off and Running
The Spartans rank second in the Big Ten in stolen bases with 84 - 13 more than all of last season (71). The school record for stolen bases in a season is 98, set in 2005. The Spartans need two more to move into second place on the school's single-season stolen base list.
Jeff Holm and Brandon Eckerle have been the most active on the basepaths, as Holm is 23-for-26, which is fourth in the Big Ten, while Eckerle is 22-for-25, which is fifth best in the league.