Michigan State baseball fell to the Lansing Lugnuts 5-1 Tuesday evening in the 13th-annual Crosstown Showdown at Cooley Law School Stadium. The Spartans were able to put up one run on three hits and three walks, scoring on a passed ball score from Peter Ahn, but couldn’t keep up with the Lugnuts bats.
The loss was noted by the Spartans, but the new team is still getting into the feel of things. Having a lot of time to work out the kinks, Coach Boss only sees the team getting better following this matchup.
“First time playing as a team together, so I think there is a lot of positives to that, certainly a lot of feeling out of how we're going to play. Communication needs to get better, obviously being so early ... you put a little bit of stock into what happened tonight, both on the good end and maybe on the bad end, but we'll take it. … We got a long way to go, and the guys are going to have an opportunity to really work on a lot of different parts of their game and get a lot better,” Boss said.
The night’s events started out with a home run derby, which, unlike the past few games, the Spartans have had luck in recently. Catcher Adam Proctor took home the last two for the green and white. However this year Proctor did not compete, and the fans saw a new champion crowned. First baseman P.K. Morris of the Lansing Lugnuts took down Michigan State’s third baseman Andrew Morrow with ten home runs in the championship.
The Lugnuts would start out in the field, putting right-hander Juan De Paula on the mound to try to extend their Showdown winning streak to eight straight games, and go up 11-2 in the series.
The game would start out with a bare-handed grab on a slow roller by second baseman Miguel Hiraldo to put out Michigan State’s Bryce Kelly on a close play at first.
Justin Antoncic would generate Michigan State’s first offense, working a walk within the second at-bat of the game, but the Spartans were unable to capitalize, as De Paula would finish the inning strong. It would be a long time before Michigan State would get another opportunity to score.
Mason Erla started pitching for Michigan State and would start the game off hot, striking out his first batter, leading the Spartans to a quick 1-2-3 inning, and putting down the Lugnuts top of the lineup, which included two of the Blue Jays' top 50 prospects.
The game’s first hit would come in the bottom of the second inning with a double off the bat of Lugnuts right fielder Alberto Rodriguez off of Michigan State’s Jesse Heikkinen. The double would give the Lugnuts momentum, as left fielder D.J. Daniels would follow it with a walk, and home run derby champion P.K. Morris would open the game up with an RBI single.
The single would score Rodriguez, putting the Lugnuts up 1-0. Heikkinen and the Spartans were able to recover with a double play started by their second baseman Bailey Peterson, allowing only one run in the inning.
After keeping Michigan State hitless through three innings, the Lugnuts were able to keep their momentum from the second inning going and extend their lead to 2-0. The run came off a solo home run from second baseman Miguel Hiraldo.
Michigan State would get their first hit of the game in the top of the fifth inning. The three-base knock would come courtesy of redshirt freshman Peter Ahn, as it dropped in over the center fielder’s head. Ahn would soon be able to capitalize on the triple, swiping home on a Lugnuts passed ball, narrowing the lead 2-1.
The Lugnuts responded quickly, putting up three runs in the bottom of the fifth. After a walk and hit, it would be Yhon Pérez who would come up with a pinch-hit home run. The three-run blast would set the Lugnuts ahead 5-1 going into the sixth inning.
Naswell Paulino would hold things down in the top of the seventh, striking out two, and closing things out with a fly out to left, giving the Lugnuts their seventh straight Crosstown Showdown win.
At the end of the game the Lugnuts would end up taking a 11-2 Crosstown Showdown series lead, but Coach Boss liked what he saw from his guys.
“(It’s) always a fun night for our guys. I thought we played well, being the third practice of the year … I think there’s a lot of things to build on. I think there's a lot of things that we can learn from what happened tonight too. A lot of positives,” Boss said.