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By Sean Gagnier
Coming off a 1-2 weekend in the Big Ten / Big East Challenge the Spartans were looking to bounce back in their fifth trip to the First Pitch Invitational in Greenville, S.C. Day one held a double header for Michigan State against Miami-Ohio and Furman. The Spartans proved to be too much for both clubs as they locked up a 13-4 drubbing of the Red Hawks and a 4-2 victory over Furman.
Riding an 11-run third inning the Spartans cruised to a 13-4 win over Miami-Ohio in the opening game of the First Pitch Invitational on Friday. Michigan State roughed up Red Hawks pitching for 16 hits with Ryan Jones, John Martinez and Jared Hook racking up three apiece.
The Spartans ace Tony Bucciferro toed the rubber for the second time this season and earned his 22nd career victory in a solid outing. In his six innings of work, Bucciferro allowed four runs, three earned, while surrendering 10 hits and fanning two. It was Bucciferro's second straight game in which he did not walk a batter.
Jones led off the third inning with a single before stealing second and made it home off a Justin Scanlon single. Following a Torsten Boss flyout, Michigan State went on to get eight straight hits with 11 batters reaching base consecutively.
The Spartans punished RedHawks pitching and were only retired after a double play was turned with the bases loaded. Spartans batters had tallied 11 runs on 11 hits in the third, the most since a 12 run inning against Iowa in 2010.
Miami-Ohio trimmed the Spartans 12-0 lead in the fourth by scoring one run and then plating three more in the fifth inning. Coach Jake Boss Jr. said he hoped his team could have scored more and wished his pitcher could have gone longer but attributed the surrendered runs to the rain delays throughout the game.
Michigan State tacked on one more in the seventh to bring the score to 13-4 before Joe Zwierzynski tossed three scoreless innings to earn his second career save for the Spartans.
The Spartans were still hot coming off their 13-4 win over Miami-Ohio when they took on Furman in the second game of the First Pitch Invitational. Michigan State jumped out to a quick lead with a three-run first and successfully defended their lead the right of the game.
Jones had another successful game, going 2-for-4 against Furman and 5-for-9 on the day. He showed why Coach Boss has him written into the lead off position with a solo home run to start the game. A Jordan Keur sac fly and a Jared Hook groundout plated Scanlon and Boss to extend the Spartans first inning lead to 3-0.
Furman answered right back with a solo home run in the bottom of the first but were then shut down by Andrew Waszak. The Paladins were unable to muster anything else against Waszak until the sixth when an RBI groundout cut the Spartans lead to 3-2.
LHP Trey Popp made his second appearance of the season in the seventh when he came in the relieve Waszak and held the Paladins to their two runs. Waszak had his second successful start of the season, but the first in which he earned a decision. Through sixth innings, Waszak struck out four while surrendering just three hits and two runs.
In the top of the ninth Jones continued his hot day and drove home Ryan Krill to extend the Spartans lead to 4-2. Tony Wieber entered the game in the eighth and ran into some trouble in the ninth. After surrendering two singles putting the tying runs on base Wieber was able to retire the Paladins and record his 11th career save.