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Spartans team enjoys playing at professional stadium, faces Eastern Michigan

April 28, 2004

The MSU baseball team faces Eastern Michigan tonight at Oldsmobile Park, home of the Lansing Lugnuts.

Each year, MSU plays a couple of contests at the stadium, so does playing at Oldsmobile Park ever lose its luster?

"No, not at all," MSU manager Ted Mahan said. "Everyone enjoys playing there."

Compared to the Spartans' traditional home park, Lansing's stadium is a shrine.

More than 8,000 fans can pack into Oldsmobile Park, the outfield is treeless, the playing field is bigger, and balls create a distinct echo coming off the bat. At Kobs Field, there is no grassy knoll behind the outfield wall and there aren't advertisements for beer and food products plastered on the outfield wall and around the park.

Oh, and at Oldsmobile Park, outfielders don't have to begin an uphill run when tracking down a fly ball near the fence.

Freshman shortstop Troy Krider said he has been to the park before this season, but watching a game there is no match for playing one.

"Being able to play there, a lot of teams don't get that opportunity, so I do feel fortunate," said Krider, who will be playing at Oldsmobile Park for the second time, as MSU defeated Wayne State there earlier this year. "There is a lot of energy and enthusiasm when we go there."

Krider added that the feeling probably stems from feeling like a professional ball player.

"It's probably one of the nicest minor-league stadiums in the country," he said. "You get that feeling of playing in the minors and you don't get that all the time."

Senior third baseman James Moreno, like Krider, is no stranger to Oldsmobile Park. Moreno has played there in each of his years as a Spartan and played there in high school tournaments in his junior and senior seasons.

"It never gets old," Moreno said. "It's a big-league atmosphere. Because it's a minor league park, it gives you something to look up to."

Eastern Michigan (22-15) also will get that taste with today's 7 p.m. game. And it isn't as if the Eagles need any more incentive for the game.

After an abysmal 3-10 start, Eastern has won 19 of its last 24 games and is tied atop the Mid-American Conference's West Division.

"We're going to play a really good team, probably one of the best we've played all year," Mahan said.

Despite saying he expects the Eagles to come into the game with much fire and an even greater incentive to win, Mahan said he will throw a handful of pitchers today, just as he does for every weekday game.

Sophomore right-hander Chris Toepper gets the starting nod. Other pitchers slated to get at least one inning are senior right-hander Adam White, freshman right-hander Clay Kovac, senior left-hander Ryan Kurtz and sophomore right-hander Jeff Gerbe.

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