Monday, June 17, 2024

MSU baseball loses Crosstown Showdown to Lansing Lugnuts 18-0, drop 11th straight to Lugnuts

April 4, 2024
Lansing Lugnuts pitcher Hunter Brealt deals a pitch to a Spartan batter on Wednesday, April 3, 2024 at Jackson Field in Lansing, MI. The Lugnuts beat the Michigan State Spartans 18-0 in the "Cross Town Shodown" exhibition match.
Lansing Lugnuts pitcher Hunter Brealt deals a pitch to a Spartan batter on Wednesday, April 3, 2024 at Jackson Field in Lansing, MI. The Lugnuts beat the Michigan State Spartans 18-0 in the "Cross Town Shodown" exhibition match.

The 16th annual Crosstown Showdown between Michigan State baseball and the Lansing Lugnuts ended in a dominant 18-0 win for the Lugnuts, marking the 11th time in a row that the Oakland Athletics High-A affiliate team won.

The loss, which ended early in seven innings due to an inning pitch limit, does not add to either teams' record, as it is just an exhibition match. The Spartans are still at 12-14 overall and 3-3 in conference play.

The starting pitcher for the Spartans was right-hander Harrison Cook, who came into the game with 0-1 record and a 6.52 earned run average, or ERA, on the season. The Lugnuts trotted out right-hander Grant Judkins, who last pitched in 2022, when he was 3-4 with a 5.43 ERA for the Low-A Stockton Ports.

The Spartans, as the away team, started on offense as outfielder Landen Lozier led off the game with a hard lineout to right field that was taken away on a diving catch. None of the other Spartans could get a hit in the top of the first inning

Cook took the mound in the bottom half of the first inning, and after a hit, throwing error, and sacrifice ground out, the Lugnuts made it 1-0 early on.

Left-handed pitcher Aidan Arbaugh took over for Cook in the top of the second inning. He walked the first two batters before retiring the next batter on a flyout as a runner advanced to third base. A double down the third base line brought the runner in and advanced another to third base. Infielder Joshwan Wright hit a home run for the Lugnuts, which brought in two runners along with himself. Lansing was now up 5-0.

In the bottom of the third inning, the Lugnuts were able to get a single, a runner on base due to an error and a sacrifice out to make the score 6-0. Early on it was obvious that the Lugnuts were in control

By the top of the fourth inning, Michigan State's offense were no match for Lansing's pitching -- or offense really -- as the Spartans had only tallied up one hit by that point.

In the top of the fourth inning, left-handed pitcher Sam Bassett-Kennedy took over for the Spartans. He was able to force an out for the first batter but walked and hit the next two. The inning started to implode after a single brought in a run, a three-run home run from outfielder Henry Bolte and a solo home run from infielder Will Simpson drove the score up to 11-0, in favor of the Lugnuts. After that, the Spartans were able to end the inning with a double play. 

The Spartan bats were looking at a large deficit in the top of the fifth inning as right-hander Hunter Breault came in to relieve Judkins, infielder Ryan McKay beat out a ground ball for an infield single with one out to try and start a rally, but that would be all for MSU.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, right-hander Stephen Ruhle entered the game pitching for MSU. He gave up a single to the first batter while the next reached on an error and then walked the next batter. He walked a runner in and gave up two singles that brought runs in. Then, he gave up a grand slam, which moved the score to 18-0.

Looking at a large deficit to come back from, the Spartan bats went down quietly again, facing a new pitcher, Yehizon Sanchez.

Due to the exhibition nature of the game, it did not end despite the Lugnuts being the home team and the game being seven innings; the game ended on reaching the inning pitch limit. The final score was 18-0, the Lugnuts winning

The Spartans used 10 different pitchers in the game, partially because of the game’s score and also because of its exhibition status. 

After the game, head coach Jake Boss Jr. spoke about the game and what it means for his team to play against professionals. He cited that it’s an experience that can bring great memories for his team.

“The message is you get to come in here and pay attention to how these guys prepare before the game,” Boss Jr. said. “Some of the adjustments that they make during the game, defensive positioning adjustments, you know, within the at-bat from one pitch to the next. If you're not paying attention, then you've missed a great opportunity. And so everybody wants to play at this level. It's kind of a taste of what it's like. And so hopefully our guys learned a lot tonight.”

Christian Williams also talked about the experiences of playing against a professional team and how it's different than other college teams.

“I’ll take away just the experience of just being able to play in front of people," Williams said. "And also just looking at the guys across the field, seeing how they do things, how they warm up, how they play the game. Ultimately, that's where I want to get to so just (to) be able to play on the same field as those guys is an awesome experience. Obviously they're gonna be a little bit better, they're pro guys, but I just tried to stick to my same approach and hopefully it works here.”

Michigan State will try to take this experience of the Lugnuts game into the weekend series at home against Niagara. The first game of the three-game series is on Friday, April 5 at 6:05 p.m. The other games are on Saturday, April 6 at 3:35 p.m. and the third game is on Sunday, April 6 at 1:05 p.m.

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