Spartan Ace Tony Bucciferro Tosses Complete Game Shutout as Spartans Beat Minnesota, 2-0

Ben Phlegar


Bucciferro doesn’t allow any walks and scatters just five hits to earn his sixth win of the season.  Photo courtesy of MSU SID.
Bucciferro doesn’t allow any walks and scatters just five hits to earn his sixth win of the season. Photo courtesy of MSU SID.



EAST LANSING, Mich. – Junior right-hander Tony Bucciferro threw his third career complete-game shutout on Saturday as the Michigan State baseball team beat Minnesota, 2-0, at McLane Baseball Stadium. The Spartans, who have won the first two games of the series, improve to 19-7 (4-1 Big Ten) for the season, while Minnesota falls to 10-11 (2-3).


The 2-0 win marked just the fourth time in series history MSU has shut out Minnesota, and the first since 1991.


Bucciferro scattered just five hits, struck out two, and didn’t walk a batter in earning his sixth win of the season, which ties for the Big Ten lead. In addition to the shutout, it marked his fifth career complete game and second of the year. The junior from Joliet, Ill., delivered complete-game shutouts last season against Southeast Missouri and Notre Dame.


“I had all my pitches moving and I was able to control them,” said Bucciferro, who threw only 89 pitches in the game. “I got them chasing a couple and my fielders were out there to back me up. I didn’t strike many guys out, so I had to rely on my defense, and my defense stepped up today.”


“Tony was lights out all day,” said MSU head coach Jake Boss. “He really kept his pitch count down and got a lot of outs early in the count, which let him go the whole way. It was a dominating performance on his part.”


The Spartans scored single runs in the fourth and fifth innings, and it was all they needed as Bucciferro did the rest.


Jeff Holm blasted his third homer of the season with a deep shot over the right-field fence in the fourth, breaking the scoreless tie and giving MSU the 1-0 advantage.


In the fifth, Brandon Eckerle collected his third hit of the game with a two-out single to left. He then stole second, his 15th of the season, and scored on a Ryan Jones double to left-center. The RBI double by Jones extended his hitting streak to a career-best 15 games.


Michigan State had seven hits in the game, led by Eckerle’s 3-for-3 effort. Eckerle, who leads the Big Ten with a .451 batting average, now has 16 multi-hit games this season.


“That’s what (Brandon) does for us,” said Boss. “He’s our catalyst and makes us go. He’s been like that all year. The way he runs, he really wreaks havoc on defenses.”


Bucciferro closed out the game retiring 13 of his last 14 batters, with the only base runner a hit batsman in the seventh. He almost had a complete game in his last outing, throwing 8 2/3 innings in the win over Iowa April 2.


“I like to make my innings fast and make them hit into outs,” Bucciferro said of attacking the strike zone, as he’s only allowed eight walks in 57 innings of work this season. “That’s the last thing I want is a free runner on base. That’s the approach I take every day.”


Gopher starter Phil Isaksson (1-3) suffered the loss, although he only surrendered two runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings.


Bucciferro did get out of a couple jams. In the top of the first, the Gophers put their first two runners on base, and had second and third with two outs, but a flyout ended the inning. In the top of the fifth, a 4-6-3 double play ended a bases-loaded threat with one out.


The series finale is set for Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. in McLane Baseball Stadium.



Today’s 2-0 win over Minnesota marked MSU’s second shutout win of the season (defeated Charleston Southern, 3-0, on Feb. 25) … It also marked MSU’s first shutout in a Big Ten game since Nolan Moody’s no-hitter on April 4, 2009, against Northwestern in the first-ever game in the new McLane Baseball Stadium … Bucciferro won his 18th career game, moving him into a tie for seventh place all-time at MSU along with Tim Day … Bucciferro also moved up in the career innings chart, as his 216.2 career innings now ranks 10th most in Spartan history … Eckerle now has 214 career hits, just three shy of moving into seventh place all-time at MSU … Coach Jake Boss was honored before the game by MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon and MSU Senior Associate Athletics Director Shelley Appelbaum for winning his 100th game as a head coach in Friday’s 2-0 win over Minnesota.

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