|Photo from MSU Baseball Facebook Page|
By Sean Gagnier
The Spartans dropped the final game of the Big Ten/Big East Challenge to No. 15 Louisville by a score of 7-6. The weekend wasn't a total loss for Michigan State, who took on the top three programs in the Big East and managed an 11-4 victory over No. 11 St. John's in the opening day of the tournament.
Michigan State scratched across an unearned run in the second before Louisville scored two off a home run but they quickly bounced back with a four run third to gain a 5-2 lead and chase Louisville starter Travis Tingle from the game. The Spartans had a big fourth, but it could have been much better for them as they had the bases loaded with no outs and failed to plate any more than four runners.
Louisville answered back in the bottom of the third scoring three times off starter David Garner who was replaced on the mound in the fourth by Trey Popp after the Cardinals scored again to give themselves a 6-5 advantage. Popp was unable to get a hold and the Cardinals singled home another run in the sixth to extend the lead to 7-5.
Garner's performance was vastly different than the previous two Spartan pitchers days - Garner lasted 3.2 innings, surrendering six runs on seven hits and fanning just four. Spartans starters Tony Bucciferro and Andrew Waszak posted impressive numbers in their outings going six innings with one hit and fanning six and seven innings with four hits and 3 K's respectively.
Michigan State was able to close the gap to 7-6 in the seventh after a bunt single and throwing error allowed Keur to reach second before advancing 90 feet on a flyout and scoring on a groundout to the right side of the infield. The Spartans were unable to get anything else going against the Cardinals closer, Derek Self who picked up his first save of the season.
The green and white don't have long to lick their wounds as they will be heading to Greenville, S.C. for the First Pitch Invitational from Feb. 24-26. The Spartans will face Miami-Ohio and Furman twice during the Invitational.
Bucciferro named Big Ten co-pitcher of the week
For his dominating performance in the Spartans opening game against St. John's senior Tony Bucciferro was named the Big Ten Co-Pitcher of the Week. In his start on Friday Bucciferro led the Spartans to an 11-4 win by retiring the first 13 batter he faced and allowing just one hit through his six innings of work.
Bucciferro managed to fan six Red Storm players while not surrendering a base-on-balls all day for his 21st career victory in the green and white. The win vaults him to sixth place in Spartan history, tied with Ron Perranoski.
This is Bucciferro's second time receiving this award, having earned the honor last April following his third complete game shutout for the Spartans in a game against Minnesota.