LANSING, Mich. -- In the 11th annual Crosstown Showdown, the Lansing Lugnuts topped the Michigan State baseball team, 5-1, on Tuesday night at Cooley Law School Stadium. A crowd of 6,804 was on hand to watch the annual exhibition game and home run derby.
This is the second-straight season that the two teams have met in the fall after playing the previous games in the spring.
"I thought we saw a lot of good things out of our guys. I think the new guys weren't intimidated or overwhelmed. We were ready to play, we were aggressive so a lot of good things on our end," MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr., said.
The spirited crowd was treated to an entertaining night of baseball, which gave them a preview the Spartans squad and get a final look at the Lugnuts, who finished their 2017 regular-season on Monday.
"It's awesome, absolutely awesome. Even in the spring with the bad weather people come out to support us and to support the Lugnuts and it's just fantastic. It's so much fun; it's hard to believe but this is my 10th one and it just keeps getting better and better. It's been a real staple in the community baseball-wise and it's been fun," Boss said.
The fun wasn't just limited to the fans, players and coaches of the respective teams, as MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon was in attendance Tuesday's game.
"It's great that the weather is great; that's important and definitely a factor. Many of these players aspire to have an opportunity to play professionally and also to get their degree which makes them special as student-athletes. Because of the baseball system and getting drafted early, this gives them a sense of what it's like to play in this kind of environment and be around people and compete and also to judge their skills against someone that they might be competing against in another couple of years, so it's terrific," President Simon said.
Michigan State struck first, scoring its lone run in the top of the first inning. Sophomore Justin Antoncic reached on a throwing error to get the Spartans started, moving to second with a stolen base. Proctor continued his impressive Spartan debut, driving home Antoncic with a single to right.
The Spartans held their 1-0 lead until the third, when the Lugnuts plated two with Otto Lopez leading off with a double to left center, which was followed by a bloop double down the right field foul line by Nick Sinay, with Lopez stopping at third after the bloop. Both Lopez and Sinay would later come around to score taking advantage of a pair of wild pitches and a ground out to score two and take a 2-1 advantage.
Lansing added a run in the fourth on an RBI single by Yhordegny Kelly, driving in Ridge Smith, who led off with a walk. The Lugnuts plated two more runs in the sixth for the final scoring.
The Spartans used 20 different players, including six pitchers, with junior Riley McCauley starting Tuesday's contest and firing two strikeouts in his lone inning of work.
"It's a good experience playing here, playing in front of a lot of fans and going against the professional guys was a great experience," McCauley said. "It's cool I definitely think they should keep doing it. Two baseball teams in East Lansing and Lansing -- I feel like we should always play and bring the fans out here; everybody enjoys it.
Prior to the game, the two teams held a home run derby with three players from each team taking part. Junior Marty Bechina, senior Zack McGuire and freshman Adam Proctor participated for the Spartans. Bechina and Proctor tied with eight home runs apiece in the first round with the Spartan newcomer winning the swing off to reach the finals. In the final round, Proctor prevailed with five dingers to take the title over David Jacob of the Lugnuts.
"It was a great experience, a lot of good guys out here. I didn't really expect to come in and do as well as I did. I just kind of expected to come in and experience it for the first time," Proctor said. "Yeah, it was a great time -- everyone did great. Marty (Bechina) killed it like he usually does and it was just a great time."
Proctor not only got to play baseball in a Spartan uniform for the first time, but the St. Johns, Michigan native got to play on the field in the stadium that he had come to many games as a fan.
"It's huge. I was really nervous coming into this day because I knew it was the first time I was going to be wearing the Spartan uniform in a game so there were a lot of nerves coming into this but to come out and win something like this it just really makes you feel good and calms the nerves down a little bit," Proctor said.
The Spartan freshman didn't show any signs of nerves, something that was noticed by Boss and the MSU coaches.
"It's definitely a confidence boost for him. It's pretty awesome for the freshman to come in here, especially in front of a lot of hometown friends and family and fans. What a neat opportunity for him; it's something he's never going to forget I can guarantee you that," Boss said.
The Spartans return to the friendly confines of McLane Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 23 to take on Notre Dame at 2 p.m., coinciding with the MSU vs. Notre Dame football game at 8 p.m. Admission is free to the Spartan baseball game.