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Lugnuts shutout MSU 7-0 in front of record crowd

April 5, 2012
From left, right hand pitcher Joe Zwierzynski, first baseman and outfielder Ryan Jrill, and catcher and first maseman Blaise Saslter walk back to the field at the seventh innings.The Spartans fell to the Lugnuts by 7-0 Thursday evening at Cooley Law School Stadium. Justin Wan/The State News
From left, right hand pitcher Joe Zwierzynski, first baseman and outfielder Ryan Jrill, and catcher and first maseman Blaise Saslter walk back to the field at the seventh innings.The Spartans fell to the Lugnuts by 7-0 Thursday evening at Cooley Law School Stadium. Justin Wan/The State News

Lansing – With a weekend three-game series against Michigan approaching, Jake Boss Jr. saw an opportunity in the Crosstown Showdown to showcase the depth of his pitchers in his arsenal. But after four pitchers spread out a scoreless game into the seventh inning, it appeared the depth had run out when it reached junior pitcher Ryan Martin.

Martin surrendered six runs on five hits in the seventh to allow the Class-A Minor League Lansing Lugnuts to top the Spartans 7-0 in the Crosstown Showdown at Cooley Law School Stadium in Lansing.

“We really tried to get as many guys in the game as possible,” Boss said. “We let them experience playing against Lansing in front of a big crowd, and we were able to do that. Some guys had some successes tonight, but it was good to get as many guys as possible out on the field.”

It was the sixth meeting between the two teams in the annual crosstown exhibition. The Lugnuts improve to 4-2 in the all-time series between the two squads, with the Spartans last win coming in the 2011 season.

“I thought it was a great experience,” freshman catcher Blaise Salter said. “Me as a freshman just coming here in front of all these people — I’m not used to playing in front of all these people. It’s a great experience, especially for me as a freshman, but everyone here.”

Through the first six innings of play, the teams combined for a total of two hits and were scoreless in front of an all-time record crowd of 12,997 at Cooley Law School Stadium.

Much of MSU’s difficulty on offense came in not being able to bring runners around to score. The Spartans left nine men on base in the game and mustered just two hits through the course of the game, heavily contributing to the losing effort.

“(The Lugnuts) were throwing really well,” junior designated hitter Tony Wieber said. “Switching over to the wood bats usually takes a couple games to get used to. Our guys looked good swinging. We might not have had a lot of hits, but there were a lot of them that could have been hits.”

The Lugnuts opened up the scoring for the game with seven runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. With two on and no outs in the inning, right fielder Markus Brisker knocked a single to score both runners and take the first lead of the game.

Several batters later, center fielder Kenny Wilson doubled off the right field wall to score another two runners and increase the lead to four runs. The Lugnuts weren’t done, as the next batter second baseman Jon Berti singled to score Wilson and third baseman Kellen Sweeney to bring the game to 6-0. After a throwing error moved Berti from first to third, he scored on a fielder’s choice to set the lead at 7-0.

The Spartans couldn’t respond with any offense in the late innings and took the loss in Thursday’s exhibition.

The third of an inning was enough to give Martin the loss in the Crosstown Showdown. But despite the one inning that got away, Boss said he was pleased that he was able to get seven different pitchers in the game — many of whom who rarely get a chance to play.

“We had a lot of guys that maybe haven’t had the opportunity to throw a whole lot and did very well so that was good to see,” Boss said.

Even with the loss in the Crosstown Showdown, Boss said he’s happy that his team got the experience of playing in front of a record crowd in Lansing.

“You don’t get to play in front an atmosphere like this a lot — but we feel like we have a pretty good place to play at home,” Boss said. “We don’t play in front of 12,000 people regularly. Again, it’s a great experience for guys and it’s something that they’ll never forget.”

The Spartans turn around and open up a three-game series with Michigan starting at 5:35 p.m. Friday in Ann Arbor, returning to East Lansing for a 1:05 p.m. matchup on Saturday before concluding in Ann Arbor at 1:05 p.m. on Sunday.

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