EAST LANSING, Mich. â€“ The Michigan State baseball team opens Big Ten Conference action this weekend (April 1-3) with a three-game series at Iowa. The series begins Friday at 7:05 p.m. ET, while Saturday and Sundayâ€™s game will start at 2:05 p.m. ET.
The Spartans are coming off a 3-1 loss to Central Michigan in their home opener at McLane Baseball Stadium on Wednesday, but still have started out the season with an impressive 15-6 record.
â€œThis is what we work all year for,â€ said Spartan head coach Jake Boss regarding the start of Big Ten play. â€œOur guys are motivated and focused to right the wrong from what happened last year. We have a great opportunity coming up starting this weekend to make some noise in a good conference.â€Â
Michigan State swept Michigan last weekend in a three-game series for the first time since 1955 and for only the second time in school history; however, the two teams were left off the rotating Big Ten schedule in 2010 and 2011 and the games did not count toward the conference standings.
Iowa enters the weekend at 9-13 after dropping two midweek games to South Dakota State in Iowa City.
â€œI think theyâ€™re going to pitch very well,â€ Boss said of the Hawkeyes. â€œTheir numbers from the mound are extremely good, as are ours. Theyâ€™re going to play good defense. Offensively, there are times where they swing it real well, and there are times where theyâ€™re playing some lower-scoring games. Iowa is well coached and those guys always play hard.â€
Third-year Spartan head coach Jake Boss is 5-1 against the Hawkeyes during his brief tenure in East Lansing. In those six games, MSU has outscored Iowa, 89-37, including a 26-run outburst in the series finale last season in East Lansing.
MSU will send senior right-hander Kurt Wunderlich to the mound on Friday night to start game one of the series. Wunderlich is 3-0 in his career against Iowa and is 4-1 this season with a 2.33 ERA.
â€œHe really has embraced that role,â€ said Boss on Wunderlich being the No. 1 starter this season. â€œHeâ€™s learned how to pitch. When we got here, he was more of a thrower and maybe trying to strike out every hitter that he saw. Heâ€™s really learned how to throw three pitches for strikes and locate, especially early in the count. Every time he goes out on Friday, we feel like we have a pretty good chance to win.â€
Junior Tony Bucciferro (4-1) will get the call in game two, while freshman David Garner (3-2) will start on Sunday.
Gametracker for all three games will be available at www.msuspartans.com.