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Pitcher helps Spartans cruise past Broncos in rematch

April 20, 2010

Lansing — Freshman pitcher Tony Wieber might not have liked the way he started Tuesday’s game against Western Michigan.

But his impressive performance on the mound in the middle portion of the game was enough to propel the MSU baseball team past the Broncos 6-3 on Tuesday at Cooley Law School Stadium in Lansing.

The rookie right-hander shook off a wild fastball to throw seven shutout innings for the Spartans in only his second start of the season, earning the win (2-0).

Wieber might be a freshman, but his stuff on Tuesday looked more like that of an upperclassman.

He admitted his fastball control was a little bit off to start the game, and the Broncos capitalized by tallying four hits through the first two innings.

But once he settled in, he shut down the Broncos’ hitters. And this was the same Western Michigan team that racked up 11 runs against the Spartans on April 14.

“Early on, I didn’t have my velocity, and I struggled through the first two innings,” Wieber said.

“I learned pretty quickly that you just throw strikes and the defense behind you will make plays.”

Prior to Tuesday’s win, Wieber appeared in seven games for the Spartans and held a sketchy 9.00 ERA.

But his seven shutout innings Tuesday dropped that to 6.14 and impressed MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr.

“You just saw him today take another stride and another step forward,” Boss said.

“He was getting deep into counts but was still able to get guys out. You really saw him mature a little bit in the middle of the ball game, where he started to pitch like he’s very capable of doing. We are really encouraged of how he threw today.”

The victory gave MSU (24-9 overall, 5-4 Big Ten) a taste of revenge against Western Michigan. On April 14, the Spartans traveled to Kalamazoo and lost a slugfest in the bottom of the ninth inning, 11-10.

Losing in walk-off fashion is tough enough. But losing to a team sitting in last place in the Mid-American Conference West Division standings had the Spartans aching for another shot at the Broncos. MSU might have underestimated Western Michigan once, but not twice.

“We felt like we had the confidence and came to the ball park knowing we were going to win today,” junior shortstop Jonathan Roof said.

“We all fed off one another. The positive attitude was going on real well. We started off a little slow, then we came after them pretty good at the end.”

Roof went 3-for-4 from the plate and was a double shy of hitting for the cycle.

The Spartans scored two runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings. Roof’s home run was the only one of the day for either team. He connected with a first pitch fastball and sent it flying over the fence in left field.

MSU carried a 6-0 lead into the ninth inning. But with two outs, the Broncos posted three runs off sophomore pitcher Trey Popp before he got the final out on a ground ball to third base.

The Spartans will continue nonconference play Wednesday against Central Michigan at Dow Diamond in Midland, Mich.

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“We are going to expect a hard-fought game,” senior designated hitter Chris Roberts said of Wednesday’s game.

“But we are going to go out there and give it our all and win the game.”

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