LANSING, Mich. - In the first-ever Crosstown Showdown, the Lansing Lugnuts held on to defeat Michigan State baseball team, 4-3, before a festive crowd of 6,223 fans Tuesday night at Oldsmobile Park. The Spartans scored two runs in the top of the ninth to make things interesting, but couldn't come up with a game-tying hit with runners on first and second. MSU battled all game, and even out-hit the Lugnuts, 8-3.
"What a great night for Michigan State baseball," said MSU head coach David Grewe. "It was a great turnout and an awesome atmosphere. Everyone was up the whole game and the bench had a lot of fun. More importantly, all the position players had a chance to get in the game. I couldn't have asked for anything more. I just thank the Lansing Lugnuts for the opportunity to play."
Down 4-1 in ninth, the Spartans rallied for two runs on three hits, led by a pair of walk-ons. Kyle Kunkel, a walk-on catcher who entered the game in the bottom of the eighth at left field, led off with a walk. He advanced to second on a Sean Walker single, and an Evan Friedland single through the right side loaded the bases with no outs. E.J. Daws followed with a sacrifice fly to center, plating Kunkel to make it 4-2. After a MSU strikeout, Nate Yahn - a sophomore walk-on catcher - came to pinch-hit with two outs and runners on first and second. Yahn, in his first at-bat as a Spartan, delivered a clutch single to left, bringing the Spartans to within one run at 4-3.
The Lugnuts responded by bringing in their closer, Julio Pinto. Pinto faced walk-on outfielder Kyle Hurtt, and although Hurtt battled to a full count and then fouled three straight pitches with two strikes, he finally succumbed to Pinto with a strikeout.
MSU used 10 pitchers in the game, and although the staff gave up just three hits to the Class A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, it did allow 12 walks.
Lansing got on the board first, scoring a run in the third on a Scott Campbell RBI single to center.
MSU tied the game in the fourth. Eli Boike led off with a double to left, advanced to second on a Walker flyout to center, and scored on a Friedland RBI groundout to second.
In the fourth, the Lugnuts took advantage of a Spartan error to score two runs, taking the lead, 3-1. With two outs and runners on first and second, Yuber Rodriguez hit a single to left, but instead of just one run scoring, the Spartan leftfielder misplayed the ball, allowing two runs to score and putting Rodriguez on third.
The Spartans return to action for a home Big Ten series against Purdue this weekend at Kobs Field.