Spartan Baseball under the leadership of Jake Boss matters again. Photo courtesy of Starr Portice.

Big Ten Honors Spartan Baseball With Awards Following Conference Championship

Jake Boss, Jeff Holm and Kurt Wunderlich all earn individual honors; School-record six Spartans garner first-team accolades.

 

*THE COMPLETE ALL-BIG TEN TEAMS ARE ATTACHED*

 

EAST LANSING, Mich. – It was a landmark day for the Michigan State baseball program as the Big Ten Conference announced its individual awards and all-conference teams on Monday.

After winning a share of its first Big Ten Championship since 1979, MSU hauled in three individual awards as first baseman Jeff Holm was named Player of the Year, Kurt Wunderlich was named Pitcher of the Year, and Jake Boss was named Coach of the Year.

In addition, a school-record six Spartans were named to the All-Big Ten First Team: Holm (first base), Ryan Jones (second base), Torsten Boss (third base), Brandon Eckerle (outfield), Tony Bucciferro (starting pitcher) and Wunderlich (starting pitcher).

 

Jared Hook (designated hitter) and Tony Wieber (relief pitcher) landed on the third team, while Joel Fisher (catcher) and David Garner (relief pitcher) made the All-Freshman Team.

The six first-team selections for MSU were the most in school history and the most of any team in the Big Ten this season. The previous school record for most first-team selections was three.

The eight selections on the first, second, and third teams were also the most of any in the league and ties the school record for most All-Big Ten selections (1954).

Holm becomes just the second Spartan in history and the first since Bob Malek in 2002 to be named the Big Ten’s top player. The senior from St. Charles, Ill., is in contention for the Big Ten Triple Crown, leading the league with 61 RBIs while ranking second with a .379 batting average and nine homers. He ranks among the top 10 Big Ten leaders in 11 statistical categories.

The co-captain has been clutch all season, as he leads the team with 10 game-winning RBIs, including six in Big Ten play, and also 18 two-out RBIs. A third-team selection last season at first base, Holm leads all Big Ten first baseman in batting, homers, RBIs, slugging (.607), on-base percentage (.443), runs (49), stolen bases (20), hits (80) and total bases (128) this season.

Holm was named Big Ten Player of the Week twice this season (March 14 and May 9) and earned National Player of the Week honors May 9 after batting .538 (7-for-13) with three homers and nine RBIs in the sweep over Purdue.

Wunderlich is the first Michigan State player to collect Pitcher of the Year honors. The senior from Des Peres, Mo., leads the Big Ten with nine wins this season and also ranks among the top 10 leaders in the conference in innings pitched (fourth with 93.2) and strikeouts (seventh with 60). MSU is 12-2 this season when he starts, including a 7-1 record in Big Ten play. Wunderlich also led the Big Ten in league games with five wins. He was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week twice this season, including earlier this week following his first career complete game shutout in the win over Northwestern on May 19.

Boss is the second Spartan to be named Coach of the Year, as Tom Smith earned the award in 1988 and 1992. In just his third season, Boss led Michigan State to its fourth Big Ten Championship and the first since 1979. The Spartans also earned a bid to the 2011 Big Ten Baseball Tournament for the second time in three years under Boss and enter the event with a 34-19 record. The 68 wins in the past two seasons are the second most in consecutive years in program history (75 wins in 1987-88). Boss is currently 91-69 (.569) in his three seasons in East Lansing.

Ryan Jones, who was named the 2010 Big Ten Freshman of the Year and garnered second-team All-Big Ten accolades last season, has now earned first-team honors at second base in his sophomore season. Jones leads the Big Ten in runs scored with 58 and ranks ninth in the league with a .350 batting average. He posted a school-record 33-game hitting streak in the middle of the season, tied for the longest in the nation in 2011. Among Big Ten second baseman, Jones ranks first in batting, runs, doubles (17), walks (32) and on-base percentage (.449). Defensively, he leads the league with 153 assists.

Torsten Boss, a second-team All-Big Ten pick as a freshman in 2010, made the first team in just his second season in East Lansing. The Lowell, Mich., native is tied for second in the Big Ten with 57 RBIs and is third in batting with a .369 average. Overall, he ranks among the top 10 Big Ten leaders in 11 offensive categories. Boss ranks first among Big Ten third basemen in batting, doubles (16), triples (5), homers (7), total bases (122), slugging (.601), walks (28), on-base percentage (.440) and sac flies (8). The sophomore is second on the team with six game-winning RBIs and 15 two-out RBIs, and leads the team with 18 multi-RBI games.

Center fielder and senior co-captain Brandon Eckerle, who has started every game the past three seasons, leads the Big Ten in both batting average (.386) and hits (91), and ranks among the top 10 Big Ten leaders in six offensive categories.  A native of Durand, Mich., Eckerle is the all-time hits leader in school history with 256 and is just three hits away from setting a new MSU record for most hits in a season. He also ranks second in school history with 156 runs scored. Eckerle was named the 2011 Michigan Male College Athlete of the Year by the Detroit Athletic Club, and was also recently recognized as one of 10 finalists for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. Earlier Monday, Eckerle was named a first-team Academic All-American for his 3.98 GPA; he graduated at the beginning of the month with a degree in general business administration/pre-law. Eckerle was also the team’s Big Ten Sportsmanship Award recipient.

Junior right-hander Tony Bucciferro ranks second in the Big Ten with eight victories and ranks among the top 10 Big Ten leaders in innings pitched (second with 95.0), strikeouts (third with 61), walks allowed (tied for third with 14), opposing batting average (sixth at .255) and ERA (ninth at 3.22). He has thrown two complete game shutouts (Minnesota, Northwestern), and was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week on April 11 after his performance against the Golden Gophers. Bucciferro tied his career high with nine strikeouts and hurled a three-hit, complete game shutout over Northwestern on May 20 as the Spartans clinched a share of their first Big Ten title since 1979.

This marks the first time in school history MSU has placed two starting pitchers on the All-Big Ten First Team (Wunderlich, Bucciferro).

Jared Hook was named a third-team All-Big Ten designated hitter as he ranks 10th in the league with a .348 batting average. In his first year as a starter, Hook has 17 multi-hit games and has three game-winning RBIs this season. He has hit a remarkable .444 with runners in scoring position.

Joining Hook on the third team was Tony Wieber, who earned All-Big Ten honors as a relief pitcher. A sophomore from Grand Ledge, Wieber is fourth in the Big Ten with seven saves, which ranks fifth most in an MSU season. He also has a perfect 5-0 record and has struck out 37 batters in 40 2/3 innings. Wieber is tied for the team lead with 21 appearances.

Two Spartans made the All-Freshmen Team: catcher Joel Fisher and relief pitcher David Garner. Fisher, who started a team-high 32 games behind the plate as a true freshman, ranks fourth on the team with 12 doubles and threw out 20 base stealers. Garner is third on the team with 19 appearances and has won four games along with one save. He has recorded 44 strikeouts in 56 innings and was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week after fanning seven in the win over Pittsburgh March 13.

Michigan State (34-19, 15-9 Big Ten) will open play in the Big Ten Tournament this Thursday at 3:30 p.m. as the No. 2 seed.
 

Most Spartans on All-Big Ten Teams:
T1. 2011, 1954 (8)
T3. 2010, 1968 (7)
5. 1958 (6)

All-Big Ten – Michigan State Honorees
Player of the Year – Jeff Holm

Pitcher of the Year – Kurt Wunderlich

Coach of the Year – Jake Boss

First-Team All-Big Ten: Jeff Holm (first base), Ryan Jones (second base), Torsten Boss (third base), Brandon Eckerle (outfield), Kurt Wunderlich (starting pitcher), Tony Bucciferro (starting pitcher)

Third-Team All-Big Ten: Jared Hook (DH), Tony Wieber (relief pitcher)

All-Freshman Team: Joel Fisher (catcher), David Garner (relief pitcher)