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Lugnuts take down Spartans, 5-4

Despite quick start, Spartans surrender five fifth inning runs in loss

April 26, 2010

Freshman infielder Torsten Boss slides into home plate in the top of the sixth inning to bring the Spartans’ score to three, while the Lugnuts carried five runs to eventually win the Crosstown Showdown Monday at Cooley Law School Stadium, 5-4.

Lansing – The fifth inning was a killer for the MSU baseball team Monday night. The Spartans surrendered five runs in the fifth inning en route to a 5-4 loss to the Lansing Lugnuts in the fourth annual Crosstown Showdown at Cooley Law School Stadium in Lansing.

Luckily for the Spartans, the game was an exhibition and won’t hurt the team’s record. With the win, the Lugnuts now own a 3-1 record against MSU.

Despite the loss, the Spartans weren’t hanging their heads after the game as the exhibition game was more for the fans. MSU football head coach Mark Dantonio even made a guest appearance in the sixth inning to coach first base.

“Playing in an atmosphere like this is just awesome,” junior shortstop Jonathan Roof said. “It gets your adrenaline pumping and gets some emotion going on. The best part of this game is just having fun with the guys and messing around in the dugout. You don’t have to worry about anything. You just go out there and have fun and let your instincts take over.”

Five different pitchers went to the mound for the Spartans in the game. But senior starting pitcher Kyle Corcoran was the only hurler to have previous game experience entering Tuesday.

Because the game was only an exhibition — and because the Spartans have two nonconference games later this week — MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. opted to throw his young arms. And for the most part, he was pleased with what he saw.

“Most of them threw pretty well, especially for guys like (sophomore) Taylor Robson and (freshman) Ryan Martin, who really haven’t thrown at all this year,” Boss said. “We played some pretty good defense behind them. I was very pleased with how those guys pitched today.”

Corcoran was strong for the Spartans in only his second start of the season, throwing four shutout innings. But the game was lost by sophomore pitcher Andrew Webb, who surrendered all five runs in the fifth inning.

The Spartans got off to a quick start in the first inning. On the first pitch of the game, Eckerle connected with a fastball and sent it down the left field line, cruising into third for a standup triple.

On the next pitch, freshman second baseman Ryan Jones hit a blooper to shallow right field that fell in, scoring Eckerle from third and giving MSU a 1-0 lead.

The Spartans added a run in the fifth inning thanks to three errors by Lugnuts third baseman Oliver Dominguez.

Corcoran’s day was done after four innings. He allowed one hit and struck out two Lugnuts batters in his four shutout innings.

Webb took the mound in relief for Corcoran at the start of the fifth inning, but struggled with his control. He threw 35 pitches in the fifth inning, 20 for balls and 15 for strikes.

The Lugnuts capitalized on Webb’s inexperience, bringing all nine batters to the plate and scoring five runs in the process to snag a 5-2 lead.

MSU responded in the sixth inning with back-to-back doubles from senior right fielder Bo Felt and freshman left fielder Jordan Keur. MSU posted two runs in the inning, making the score 5-4.

But the Spartans were unable to muster a rally late in the game. MSU wasn’t able to bring more than four batters to the plate in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.

The Spartans (26-11 overall, 7-5 Big Ten) will play a home-and-home series against Eastern Michigan starting at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Ypsilanti and concluding at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday at Cooley Law School Stadium.

Although Monday’s game didn’t go as hoped for the Spartans, the team still sits in a four-way tie for first place in the Big Ten.

“It was a great experience,” Eckerle said of the game. “We had a lot of fans out here, more than we usually get. Playing in front of a crowd that big is a great experience, and then just being able to play against some guys from professional baseball (in) the minor leagues is a neat experience to kind of compare yourself and see where you stand.”

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