GREENVILLE, S.C. â€“ The Michigan State baseball team shut out Charleston Southern, 3-0, Friday night to open the season 4-0 for the first time since 1964. The game was held at Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C., and was the opening game of the First Pitch Invitational.
After winning all three of their games at the Big East/Big Ten Challenge last weekend, the Spartans continued their hot start with their first shutout victory of the season against the Buccaneers (2-3).
Kurt Wunderlich (2-0) fired six strong innings on the mound to earn the win, striking out four and allowing only two hits. He was relieved by junior Bryce Jenney, who threw three shutout innings and collected four strikeouts to pick up a save in his Spartan debut. Jenney pitched two seasons at Western Kentucky before having to sit out last season after transferring to Michigan State.
Big East/Big Ten Challenge Tournament MVP Brandon Eckerle was at it again Friday night, going 4-for-4 at the plate. He is now 12-for-16 this season.
Eckerle put Michigan State on the board in the bottom of the third. With two outs, he hit a two-strike pitch for a single to right field, then stole second and advanced to third on an interference call on the Buccaneer shortstop. Eckerle crossed the plate after three straight walks to Torsten Boss, Ryan Jones and Jeff Holm, giving MSU a 1-0 lead.
Although MSU didnâ€™t score with the bases loaded and just one out in the fifth, it did add two insurance runs in the seventh to make it 3-0. The Spartans again took advantage of walks surrendered by Charleston Southern.
With two out and no one on base, the Bucs walked Jones, who then stole second. Walks to Holm and Jeff Keur promptly loaded the bases. A wild pitch by CSU pitcher Zach Hagaman brought home Jones, followed by a throwing error by the catcher that plated Holm on the same play.
For the game, the CSU pitching staff walked 13 batters.
Charleston Southern tried to rally in the ninth by putting runners on first and second with one out, but Jenney struck out the last two batters to seal the win for MSU.
The Spartans return to action Saturday to face Furman (4-2) at 4 p.m. Live stats will be available at furmanpaladins.com. Â
This marks just the eighth time in program history MSU has started out a season winning its first four games (2011, 1967, 1947, 1946, 1941, 1936, 1915, 1914)â€¦MSU started out the 1970 season 5-0-1, but tied the second gameâ€¦Michigan State started out the 1964 season 7-0â€¦the best start in MSU history came in 1946 when the Spartans started out 11-0 under John Kobsâ€¦MSU was 6-0 to start out in 1947, 5-0 in 1941, 5-0 in 1936, 5-0 in 1915, and 4-0 in 1914.