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Spartans have quick turnaround into three-game Michigan series

April 5, 2012

After a break from the usual grind Thursday at the Crosstown Showdown, the MSU baseball team gets back to Big Ten play Friday with the first of three games against arch-rival Michigan.

With Thursday’s 7-0 loss to the Lansing Lugnuts being a fun exhibition, the Spartans (18-8 overall, 2-1 Big Ten) will have to turn up the intensity for the series with the Wolverines (12-16, 0-3). And junior utility player Tony Wieber said that shouldn’t be a problem.

“I don’t think you need much motivation,” Wieber said. “Just knowing that it’s Michigan vs. Michigan State, that should get you going no matter how either team is doing.”

Game one of this weekend’s series starts at 5:35 p.m. on Friday in Ann Arbor. First pitch for Saturday’s game in East Lansing is set for 1:05, and the two teams will head back to Ann Arbor for a 3:05 matchup Sunday.

The Spartans and Wolverines both enter their second conference series of the season, but each team saw very different results last weekend. MSU opened Big Ten play winning two of three against Ohio State, while U-M was swept by Minnesota as part of a four-game losing streak.

Including the series win over the Buckeyes, the Spartans have won three straight and 14 of their last 16 games, and Wieber hopes that momentum carries over into the weekend.

“It helps we’ve been playing so well,” Wieber said. “We’ve been rolling here, but Michigan is a good team. We’re going to have to play our game and stick to what we do, and hopefully we can come out with a series win.”

This weekend marks the first time MSU and U-M have met in conference play since 2009, when the Spartans won two of three games. The two teams did play last season, and MSU won all three contests.

As usual, senior pitcher Tony Bucciferro will take the mound in game one of the series against the Wolverines’ Brandon Sinnery.

Bucciferro, who owns 2.89 ERA, leads an MSU pitching staff with the best ERA (2.60) in the Big Ten. Saturday and Sunday starters, junior Andrew Waszak (1.54) and sophomore Mike Theodore (2.43), rank second and fourth in the conference in ERA, respectively, and round out a formidable starting rotation.

Those pitchers, along with a strong bullpen, will face the second worst hitting team (.253) in the league in U-M, and although Bucciferro hopes MSU the Spartans can take advantage, he said they won’t overlook the Wolverines.

“I don’t really pay attention to too many stats,” Bucciferro said. “I’ve said it before, you have to approach every start like it’s your last. You can’t say a team might now be as good as other teams, because every team has scholarship players, so you can never give anyone any slack.”

Head coach Jake Boss Jr. echoed the sentiments of his Friday starting pitcher. And after and enjoyable night at Cooley Law School Stadium in Lansing for the Crosstown Showdown, he’s excited to take his team into the Michigan series.

“It’s a big series,” Boss said. “They all are in the Big Ten. We have a chance to play against our rival, (and) they’re going to be very good. It’s going to be a hard fought series, and hopefully it’s a series we can play well in.”

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