Baseball knocks off St. Johns, drops next two at Big Ten/Big East Challenge

The weekend started off in fine fashion for the Spartans with an 11-4 win against No. 11 St. Johns on Friday.

Senior pitcher Tony Bucciferro allowed just one hit in six innings to the Red Storm. He struck out six and didn’t surrender a walk while setting down the first 13 batters in a row. For his efforts, Bucciferro was named co-Big Ten pitcher of the week.

“That was as good of a performance by Tony since he’s been here,” coach Jake Boss said. “He threw strikes, located all of his pitches, and was in charge the entire time he was out there.”

Torsten Boss, recently moved to center field, led the offensive charge with three hits including a first-inning home run. Left fielder Jordan Keur, second baseman Ryan Jones and freshman first baseman Jimmy Pickens had two hits each.

Torsten Boss hits against Louisville on Sunday. (MSU Photo)

“(I) really liked starting pitcher Tony Bucciferro and Torsten Boss. Also thought Jimmy Pickens looked for (the) Spartans,” Perfect Game’s Kendall Rogers said.

The Spartans pulled ahead 5-0 early, but St Johns came back and pulled within 5-4 before a seven-run eighth inning provided the Spartans the winning margin. Tony Weiber earned his first save of the season.

St. Johns was the highest-ranked team MSU has defeated since it beat No. 6 Rice on March 7, 2008.

The starting pitching success carried over to Saturday’s game against South Florida.

Junior Andrew Waszak threw seven shutout innings, giving up four hits and two walks while striking out four. Unfortunately for Waszak, the Spartans bats failed to show up and the Spartans fell 2-1 on a walk-off home run in the ninth.

Keur had three more hits in three at-bats, but the rest of the lineup managed just four against South Florida pitching. Keur also had the lone RBI for MSU.

Sophomore reliever Jeff Kinley allowed both South Florida runs, including the game-winning homer to USF’s Andrew Longley.

A similar game followed on Sunday against No. 15 Louisville, which the Spartans dropped 7-6.

The Spartans jumped out to an early 5-2 lead, but the Cardinals came back with three runs in the bottom of the third and tied it up. The Cardinals scored again in the bottom of the fourth and sixth, and that provided the difference.

Sophomore David Garner struggled on the mound for MSU, allowing six runs in 3.2 innings. Three relievers combined to allow just one run on three hits in 4.1 innings to keep the game close.

Keur continued his hot-hitting weekend, with two more hits. Boss also had two hits, as did backup catcher John Martinez.

Jordan Keur went 7 of 13 at the plate in the Big Ten/Big East Challenge. (MSU Photo)

Martinez started in place of Joel Fisher, who left Saturday’s game injured. X-rays on his fibula were negative.

Jones hit his first homer of the season in Sunday’s game. The Spartans left 10 runners on base in the loss.

“We had plenty of opportunities today, but we just weren’t able to come through at the plate,” coach Boss said. “Our approach at the plate the last two games wasn’t where it needs to be. We had a chance to score some more runs in the third with the bases loaded and no outs, and could’ve broke the game open. You can’t leave those opportunities out there when you’re facing a good club like Louisville.”

In the three-game set, Keur went 7 of 12 and scored five runs, while Boss went 6 of 13. Jones went 4 of 12, with two doubles, a triple and a homer.

The Spartans return to action next weekend in the First Pitch Invitational in Greenville, S.C. MSU will play Miami (Ohio) and Furman twice in the event.

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Posted on February 20, 2012, in Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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