Five-run fourth inning proves to be the difference in conference opener.  Photo courtesy of MSU SID.

Five-run fourth inning proves to be the difference in conference opener. Photo courtesy of MSU SID.

 

IOWA CITY, Iowa – The Michigan State baseball team topped Iowa, 7-2, Friday night at Duane Banks Field in the Big Ten opener for both schools. The Spartans scored five runs in the fourth inning to take a 5-2 lead and never looked back as they improved to 16-6 for the season.

Senior right-hander Kurt Wunderlich scattered eight hits in 5.2 innings but only gave up two runs, one earned, to improve to 5-1 on the mound. The win was Wunderlich’s 21st of his career, which now ties him with Ron Perranoski for fifth most in school history.

Grand Ledge native Tony Wieber relieved Wunderlich in the sixth and closed out the final 3.1 innings of the game for his team-leading third save of the season. Wieber struck out three and didn’t allow any hits in sealing the victory.

Down 2-0 after three innings, the Spartans broke the game open with five runs in the top of the fourth.

Following back-to-back singles by leadoff hitter Brandon Eckerle and Ryan Jones that put runners on first and third with no outs, MSU took advantage of two straight Iowa errors in the infield. First, an error by second baseman Mike McQuillan scored Eckerle, and a throwing error by third baseman Andrew Ewing on a safety squeeze off the bat of Torsten Boss plated Jones. Justin Scanlon then hit a sacrifice fly to score Jeff Holm, and a RBI single from Andy Johnson sent Boss home from second. Jordan Keur’s run-scoring single to left made it 5-2 in favor of Michigan State.

Iowa (9-14) would never recover after that inning. Not that the Hawkeyes didn’t have their chances – they left 15 runners on base, including leaving the bases loaded twice.

The Spartans added single runs in the fifth and ninth innings on sacrifice flies to make the final 7-2.

Each team collected eight hits in the contest. Jones and Keur both had two hits for MSU, and six different Spartans recorded an RBI.

Iowa’s Zach Hippen (1-3) suffered the loss after surrendering six runs and six hits in seven innings of work.

Game two of the series is set for today, April 2 at 2:05 p.m. ET.