By Sean Gagnier
Tony Bucciferro is supposed to be the ace of the Spartan staff, and on Friday against Iowa, he was. Bucciferro threw a complete game, five-hitter in the Spartans 6-0 victory over the Hawkeyes.
The complete game shutout was the fourth of Bucciferro's career, his nine strikeouts was just one shy of his career high, and with the full nine innings under his belt, Bucciferro took sole possession of the all-time innings pitched record for Michigan State University with 352.1.
With the win, their sixth in seven games, the Spartans move into a second-place tie in the Big Ten with the Indiana Hoosiers, but still trail Purdue for first place.
As has become the norm for Michigan State, they struck early, getting a first inning run off a Ryan Krill single. The Spartans would strike again in the third when Ryan Jones singled before coming home on a Torsten Boss sac fly to make the score 2-0.
Freshman catcher Blaise Salter hammered his first career home run in the fourth inning to give Bucciferro a 3-0 lead. Bucciferro would struggle in the fifth inning, hitting three straight batters to load the bases but was able to wiggle out of the jam without allowing a run.
In the seventh inning Bucciferro again appeared to lose a bit of control when he walked and then hit a batter, putting two men on base. Once again, he was able to focus and get three straight Hawkeyes out to avoid surrendering a run.
Bucciferro was rewarded for his performance in the stressful innings with three Spartans runs in the seventh, all with two outs. As the axiom goes, two out hits get you to heaven and if that's the case John Martinez is getting to heaven. With the bases loaded and two outs Ryan Krill drew a walk to force home a run to make it 4-0. Martinez then singled to center field, scoring Justin Scanlon and Jordan Keur extending the Spartans lead to 6-0.
At 108 pitches heading into the ninth, Bucciferro could have been one long plate battle away from not finishing the game, but he was able to come out and fan two more batters in the ninth frame to close out the win with 118 pitches.