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Spartans take weekend series

April 25, 2010

Junior outfielder Brandon Eckerle runs home during the third inning of Saturday’s game against Illinois at McLane Baseball Stadium. The Spartans won 16-1 to take the weekend series.

MSU baseball head coach Jake Boss Jr. channeled his anger and expressed himself in two words.

“I’m disappointed,” Boss told his team Friday after the MSU baseball team was defeated by Illinois, 4-3, in 10 innings in the weekend series opener at McLane Baseball Stadium at Kobs Field.

Sometimes those two words sting more than anything else. And sometimes, those two words will spring players into action. The Spartans are a better baseball team than they showed Friday, they just needed a little extra motivation.

Although Friday’s loss doesn’t help the Spartans in the conference standings, it might have awoken the team – as MSU crushed Illinois in the second game of the series, 10-2, Friday afternoon and followed suit Saturday with a dominating 16-1 victory.

“I’m proud of our guys after answering the call after game one,” Boss said. “We didn’t play well. We didn’t execute. Games two and three are really proof to our guys that when we execute the little things, we have a chance to put up a big number on the board.”

Boss’ message definitely lit a fire into the team. The blowout victories in games two and three marked the seventh time the Spartans have tallied double-digit run totals at home this season.

“We have potential to beat anyone in our conference any game,” said sophomore pitcher Tony Bucciferro, who threw seven complete innings Saturday, allowing one unearned run.

“Coach knows we are better than what we showed on Friday. He pumped us up for the next two games and we came to play.”

The Spartans have gone 1-2 in conference series openers so far this season. But MSU (26-11 overall, 7-5 Big Ten).

Junior left fielder Bo Felt’s bat caught fire in the weekend series. Felt hit a home run in all three games. He went 6-for-11 on the weekend with eight RBI’s.

“I was struggling lately,” said Felt, who carried a .245 batting average into the series. “But I got some extra work in and I think it really paid off.”

Along with Felt’s long ball, three other Spartans tallied home runs in Saturday’s game – tying the teams high for home runs in a game this season.

“It’s fun playing in games like (Saturday) because everybody is joking around in the dugout a little bit,” junior first baseman Jeff Holm said. “It’s really fun when everyone is playing well and it makes it a lot easier on the pitchers.”

Despite Friday’s loss, the MSU starting pitchers were solid on the weekend. Through nine innings, junior A.J. Achter (4-2) fanned seven Illini batters en route to a no-decision in the Spartans’ series-opening loss.

In Friday’s nightcap, junior pitcher Kurt Wunderlich (7-1) earned a team-high seventh win, surrendering one run on nine hits.

And for the third time in his last five starts, Bucciferro (6-1) allowed only five hits in Saturday’s win.

“We had great pitching this weekend,” Holm said. “A.J., Kurt and Tony all pitched really well. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t get A.J. a win, too. I’m really impressed with the way they pitched.”

The Spartans will face the Lansing Lugnuts in the fourth annual Crosstown Showdown on Monday. First pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m. at Cooley Law School Stadium in Lansing.

With the team playing six games in the next seven days, Sunday’s day off couldn’t come at a better time. But the offensive prowess the Spartans displayed to win the series against Illinois has the team anxious to get back on the field.

“At this point we are pretty excited about playing,” Holm said. “A day off is nice to get some rest. But I think everyone just wants to get out and keep playing.”

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