Michigan State Spartans Defeat Purdue, 7-1, in Big Ten Tournament

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The WUNDER kid delivers once again for the Spartans as he leads them to victory!  Photo courtesy of MSU SID.

The WUNDER kid delivers once again for the Spartans as he leads them to victory! Photo courtesy of MSU SID.

 Spartans Defeat Purdue, 7-1, in Big Ten Tournament


Kurt Wunderlich earns his 10th win of the season by allowing just one run in eight inning of work.


BOX SCORE: http://www.msuspartans.com/sports/m-basebl/stats/2010-2011/btt04.html


COLUMBUS, Ohio – Senior right-hander and Big Ten Pitcher of the Year Kurt Wunderlich scattered six hits and allowed just one run in eight innings as the Michigan State baseball team defeated Purdue, 7-1, Thursday in the Big Ten Tournament at Huntington Park. The Spartans, who are the No. 2 seed in the tournament and received a first-round bye, advance to play Friday at 7:05 p.m. against either Ohio State or Illinois.


The game was suspended for more than two hours in the bottom of the third inning due to storms in the Columbus area, but the delay didn’t stop Wunderlich (10-2) from coming back onto the mound. In fact, it might have made him better.


“The rain delay definitely helped,” said Wunderlich, who pitched five scoreless innings once the game resumed. “I was a little all over the place (in the first three innings). Hanging out with everybody (during the break) just got me refocused.”


“Ironically, it probably helped him a little bit,” MSU head coach Jake Boss said of his starting pitcher sitting out for more than two hours. “It calmed him down. We were concerned about his arm, obviously, but at the same time we trusted him. If he wanted to pitch today, we were going to let him do that. He’s earned that opportunity, and he proved he was able to handle that today.”


MSU’s defense also made several stellar plays to help Wunderlich, as the Spartans improved to 13-2 when the native of Des Peres, Mo., starts this season.


“I just let the defense work behind me – they made some great plays,” said Wunderlich, as he earned his 10th win of the season, tying for second most in an MSU season. “The range they have is unbelievable. I almost feel like we have four shortstops on the infield and three centerfielders in the outfield.”


Wunderlich threw 119 pitches and also had five strikeouts. He surpassed the 100-inning mark for the season (101 2/3), establishing a new single-season record at Michigan State.


Michigan State (35-19) was aggressive offensively right from the beginning, scoring two runs in the first and fourth in the second to build a 6-1 lead before play was suspended. The Spartans stole three bases and collected four hits in the first two innings. Torsten Boss had an RBI single in the first and an RBI double in the second, while Ryan Jones and Jordan Keur also delivered run-scoring singles in the second.


“That’s our philosophy – that’s how we want to play the game,” said Boss of his team’s approach in the first two innings. “We want to feel like we can control the pace of things. I think our guys did that today.”


The Spartans finished with 13 hits, as Brandon Eckerle, Justin Scanlon, Jones, Boss and Keur all had multi-hit games. Eckerle went 2-for-4 and tied MSU’s single-season record of 93 hits also held by Chris McCuiston (2002).


Jones drove in his third run of the game with a single to left in the fourth. The sophomore second baseman reached base safely for his 46th straight game.


“We were definitely ready to play,” said Jones. “To come out like that in the first and second inning was just huge.”


The win gave the Spartans their first victory in the Big Ten Tournament since 2004. It also marks the first time MSU has won its first game in the Big Ten Tournament since 1988.


“That’s a credit to our guys and their leadership with our captains and our seniors,” Boss said of his team’s focus on Thursday. “It’s been like that all year. They’re loose before the game, but when the lights go on and it’s time to play, they really tighten their focus up and they’re ready to go. I was proud of them tonight.”


Friday’s game will be televised on the Big Ten Network and a free live broadcast will be available on spartansportsnetwork.com