EVANSVILLE, Ind. â€“ Despite getting a complete game effort from junior right-hander Tony Bucciferro, the Michigan State baseball team was shut out at Evansville, 2-0, Saturday afternoon at Braun Stadium. The Spartans (12-4) out-hit the Purple Aces, 8-3, but left eight runners on base in the loss.
The game â€“ which only took one hour and 54 minutes to play â€“ was a pitcherâ€™s duel between Bucciferro and Evansville freshman lefty Cole Isom. Isom (3-1) also threw a complete game, scattering eight hits while striking out four and walking three. Â
Bucciferro, who fell to 3-1 on the season although he threw his fourth career complete game, allowed just four base runners, but two of them scored on groundouts, and that was the difference in the game. The Joliet, Ill., native struck out four and surrendered only three hits and one walk.
Three of MSUâ€™s eight runners left on the basepaths were stranded at third base.
The first Spartan threat came in the second, as Jordan Keur hit a two-out double and advanced to third on a passed ball, but after a walk to Andy Johnson, a flyout ended the inning.
Evansville (8-7) scored its first run in the third. Nate Smith singled to right field to lead off the inning, stole second, and scored on consecutive groundouts to make it 1-0 in favor of the Purple Aces.
Michigan Stateâ€™s best scoring opportunity came in the seventh. With two outs and no one on, the Spartans rattled off three consecutive singles, the last two coming in the infield, to load the bases for senior center fielder Brandon Eckerle. On a 3-2 count, Eckerle â€“ who entered the weekend leading the nation in batting average â€“ flied out to right field for the third out.
In the eighth, MSU again threatened as Torsten Boss hit a one-out double to left-center. A Jeff Holm groundout then put Boss at third; however, Isom got the next batter, Justin Scanlon, to ground out to second to halt the rally.
The Purples Aces tacked on an insurance run in the eighth using the same formula they did in the third inning. Smith led off with a double, advanced to third on a ball hit back to Bucciferro, and crossed the plate on a 1-6-3 chopper that hit off Bucciferroâ€™s glove and into the glove of Scanlon, who made the play at first. Evansvilleâ€™s Shawn Kuester knocked in Smith both times, recording two RBIs.
Isom put the finishing touches on his compete game shutout by getting a 1-2-3 ninth, including two strikeouts to close out the contest. He has not allowed a run in his last three outings, totaling 21 consecutive scoreless innings.
The third and final game of the series is set for Sunday, March 20 at 2 p.m. ET.