Thursday, February 29, 2024

Sports | Baseball

BASEBALL

Lugnuts left-hander finding his niche in Lansing

Lansing Lunguts catcher Jake Fox almost winces when he talks about the first time that he caught one of Clay Rapada's pitches in practice. Fox has caught many pitchers in his two years with the Chicago Cubs organization, but he said the first one from Rapada will forever remain ingrained in his memory. "It was just a little slider, but when I went down to block it, the ball moved and hit me in the chest," Fox said. "He's got that trajectory that moves the ball all over the place and makes him so tough to catch, but it's also what makes him so good." Rapada, a 6-foot-5, 185-pound relief pitcher, has become well-known around the league for his tough pitches.

BASEBALL

Oldsmobile Park might be renamed; Lugnuts fans don't mind

Lansing - Wearing his usual white Lugnuts cap and a faded gray baseball T-shirt Dexter Olsen takes his seat in Oldsmobile Park more than 30 minutes before game time, just as he has done for almost every game since 1996. Olsen, a retired autoworker, has only missed about 10 home games of his beloved Lugnuts in the ballpark named after one of the divisions of General Motors Corp.

BASEBALL

Collins' swings are now connecting

It's 1:30 p.m. on a sunny Monday afternoon, more than five hours before game time, and Lansing left fielder Kevin Collins is already down in the batting cage, working on his swing. The Lugnuts slugger was recently named the starter and designated hitter for today's Midwest League All-Star Game, a long way from last season when his number of strikeouts almost doubled his number of hits. "Last year was a long year for me," Collins said.

BASEBALL

Juniors picked in MLB Draft

MSU juniors, right fielder Travis Gulick and catcher Erik Morris were selected in the 2004 Major League Baseball draft, Tuesday. The draft spans over two days and 50 rounds. For Gulick, the two days of sitting in front of his computer listening to the 2004 MLB draft online seemed endless until his name was finally called Tuesday afternoon. Gulick was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 23rd round of the Major League Baseball Draft, the 686th pick overall. "It's been a long process," Gulick said.

BASEBALL

'U' falls short in tourney, season

The MSU baseball team exceeded most peoples expectations this season, but was unable to meet its own goals of winning a Big Ten title. The Spartans fell short in both the regular season and the Big Ten Tournament.

BASEBALL

Prior to resume with Cubs on Friday

Chicago - Mark Prior will return back to the major league, making his first start with the Chicago Cubs on Friday after spending the first two months of the season on the disabled list. Prior, who has been sidelined with an inflamed right Achilles' tendon and sore right elbow, was impressive in his third rehab start Sunday when he allowed three hits and two runs while striking out 10 in 5 1-3 innings for Triple-A Iowa. Prior pitched the first two games of his rehab tour with the Lansing Lugnuts and defied conservative estimates - pitching an extra inning in his second game to help the 'Nuts turn the tables on the West Michigan Whitecaps to win 7-6. During both games with the 'Nuts, Prior allowed just one hit and one walk, and threw 13 strikeouts in a combined 7 1/3 innings. Now, he's ready to return to the Cubs and will face the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday at Wrigley Field.

BASEBALL

Lansing awake in time to win, 3-1

Lansing- A 10:35 a.m. start time is difficult for any baseball player, but an early game following a 3 1/2 hour, 11-inning game the night before would cause any team to get off to a sluggish start. That's exactly what happened Wednesday morning as the Lansing Lugnuts struggled to find any hits for the first four innings, before the Lugnuts rediscovered their bats to pull out a 3-1 win over the West Michigan Whitecaps. "It's a little hard to get up in the morning and it took a few innings for us to wake up," Lansing left fielder Kevin Collins said. Neither team came close to scoring early.

BASEBALL

'U' ready to face Boilermakers

As MSU junior pitcher Jon Kowalski tagged first base for the final out to secure the Spartans' 8-7 victory over Northwestern, his teammates erupted into celebration. The victory over Northwestern Sunday ensured the Spartans the No.

BASEBALL

'U' needs to win and get a little help to share title

For the first time in 25 years, the MSU baseball team has a chance at a Big Ten title. The Spartans (30-22, 17-11 Big Ten) face Northwestern this weekend at Kobs field in the final four-game series of the Big Ten season. MSU is third in the Big Ten race, two games behind conference-leading Minnesota and one game behind Ohio State.

BASEBALL

WEB ONLY: 'U' baseball defeats Eastern Michigan, 12-8

Lansing - The Spartans said they wanted a tune-up for their series against Michigan this weekend. Eastern Michigan provided it. The MSU baseball team (21-18 overall) used a seven-run third inning and a handful of pitchers to defeat the Eagles 12-8 Wednesday night in front of more than 2,100 fans at Oldsmobile Park. "We're swinging the bats well," said MSU manager Ted Mahan, whose team tallied 14 hits and scored 12 runs for the second-straight game.

BASEBALL

'U' blasts Purdue pitching Sunday, drops 3 of 4 during weekend

On paper, the MSU baseball team outplayed the Boilermakers this weekend. The Spartans scored more runs (17-15), had more hits (30-25) and slammed more home runs (4-1). All the numbers point to a successful weekend, right? Except for the fact the Spartans didn't light up the scoreboard until Sunday, when they scored 12 runs, had 15 hits and laced three of their four home runs. Sunday's 12-1 slaughter ended the weekend on a high note, but it didn't erase the fact MSU lost the first three games by a combined score of 14-5 and, in the process, had lost six straight Big Ten games. "It's definitely disappointing," said freshman first baseman Sean Walker, who went 6-for-14 over the weekend and was the only Spartan to record a hit in each game.

BASEBALL

Lugnuts shut out Beloit Snappers, 2-0

Lansing - On the first Thirsty Thursday of the season at Oldsmobile Park, the Lansing Lugnuts were hungry to get their third win in a row. The Lugnuts (9-5) did just that, beating the Beloit Snappers, 2-0, on the inaugural in-park cheap beer fest.

BASEBALL

Big test

The MSU baseball team knows that calling this weekend important is an understatement. With Ohio State on top of the Big Ten and four teams packed just one game back, this weekend might create some separation. The Spartans (19-15 overall, 7-5 Big Ten) begin their four-game series against the Boilermakers (16-17, 6-6) at 3 p.m.

BASEBALL

Late-inning rally lifts Spartans to 9-4 win

It was a typical MSU-Central Michigan baseball contest coming down the stretch. The teams were neck and neck, and whenever one seemed to gain the momentum, the other would charge back to even the score. But Wednesday, it was the Spartans who stole and kept the momentum in the late innings, downing the Chippewas at Kobs Field, 9-4. "They always play us tough," MSU manager Ted Mahan said.

BASEBALL

Spartans, Chippewas to begin battle for state pride

Since the start of the Big Ten season, the Spartans have become accustomed to an assortment of things: a 21-game hitting streak by junior right fielder Travis Gulick, first place in the conference and a 12-game winning streak. The Spartans felt so invincible, and who could blame them?

BASEBALL

Mid-season slide

Against the talented Buckeyes, MSU knew its 12-game home winning streak and its standing atop the Big Ten would be in jeopardy. After winning Friday's game, 10-7, a victory that kept the Spartans in sole possession of first place in the conference, MSU dropped its next three games against Ohio State, 8-7, 19-2 and 12-10. "We gave up 46 runs this weekend and we couldn't catch the ball," MSU manager Ted Mahan said.

BASEBALL

Spartans to host Ohio State

For the first time in years, the MSU baseball team is in the crosshairs - everyone is aiming for it. Typically known for having solid nonconference seasons but struggling in the Big Ten, MSU (17-12 overall, 6-2 Big Ten) is having a surprising season - one that mirrors this year's Detroit Tigers.

BASEBALL

Warriors manager ready for 'major league' game with 'U'

Jay Alexander was so excited that his team was playing the Spartans at Oldsmobile Park this season, he thought it was a mistake. The Wayne State manager, whose team is a traditional nonconference opponent for the Spartans (16-12 overall, 6-2 Big Ten), did a double-take when he looked at the Warriors' 2004 schedule when it came out. "I wanted to make sure it was correct before I called (MSU's) coach - I didn't want him to change his mind," Alexander said.