Despite not getting the desired result in the ninth annual Crosstown Showdown, the baseball team gained plenty from their exhibition game against the Lansing Lugnuts, the Toronto Blue Jays Class A minor league affiliate.
“They learned a lot, you learn a lot from watching, you learn a lot by playing against a good organization,” head coach Jake Boss Jr. said. “(Things like) the speed of the game, the little things that the pro guys do that make a difference in the ball game, so we’ll take away some things like that.”
The Spartans were able to get 19 different players involved in the 9-4 loss to the Lugnuts, many of whom were getting some experience at a time in the year when they wouldn’t be seeing much playing time.
“We played a lot of guys, played just about every position player that we had tonight,” Boss said. “Tonight’s more about the experience.”.
Junior infielder Justin Hovis got his first experience as a pitcher since coming to MSU. It was a solid showing for Hovis in first time, out because the junior didn’t give up a run in 1.1 innings of work.
“Tonight was my first time on the mound as a collegiate pitcher and I’m a junior. Usually I’m a position player,” Hovis said.
“When I went out there tonight, I just wanted to compete and throw strikes and I did that,” Hovis said..
Hovis said at times it’s difficult when you are not playing every day, but this experience helps players get back into a playing flow.
“When you’re not playing every day, getting time to play, it gives you that rhythm back,” Hovis said. “That rhythm of baseball and everyday play, it’s good for guys to get in and get reps.”
Senior first baseman Ryan Krill talked about just how important it is to take a break from the regular season and play for fun.
Krill also said the game was fun and good break from the stress that comes with Big Ten play.
“A lot of times you get caught up in competition and how you’re doing in the Big Ten, how you’re doing in the regular season,” Krill said. “This is just a game where you can step back, go up there, take some swings, and have fun doing it.”
Boss spoke of how this experience of playing against a professional team gives some players a taste of things to come.
“It’s every guy’s dream to play pro baseball and playing in this kind of atmosphere, I think, is important for them,” Boss said. “Against a professional ball club like (the Lugnuts) it’s something that confirms their abilities, our guys can play at this level and I think it’s a taste for them.”