LANSING, Mich. - Nate Pearson hit 102 miles-per-hour in his return to the mound and the Lansing Lugnuts held off the Michigan State Spartans, 6-4, to win the 12th annual Crosstown Showdown presented by Auto-Owners Insurance in front of a Tuesday night crowd of 6,388 at Cooley Law School Stadium.The Lugs
LANSING, Mich. - Nate Pearson hit 102 miles-per-hour in his return to the mound and the Lansing Lugnuts held off the Michigan State Spartans, 6-4, to win the 12th annual Crosstown Showdown presented by Auto-Owners Insurance in front of a Tuesday night crowd of 6,388 at Cooley Law School Stadium.
The Lugs have won seven consecutive meetings with the Spartans, improving to 10-2 overall in the annual exhibition.
Pearson, the 28th overall selection in the 2017, pitched in his first game - albeit an exhibition - since he was struck by a line drive in his 2018 debut with Dunedin on May 7th. He struck leadoff hitter Danny Gleaves with a slider before inducing back-to-back fielder's choices and ending the first inning with a strikeout looking of Andrew Morrow.
The second inning featured a show of dominance: consecutive strikeouts of Dan Chmielewski (looking), Zach Iverson (swinging) and Adam Proctor (looking) to end his night.
Jose Ferrer put the Lugnuts on the board with an RBI triple in the second inning, and a three-run third keyed by a Vinny Capra two-run double (lost in the lights by left fielder Bryce Kelley) increased the lead to 4-0.
Adam Kloffenstein , the Blue Jays' 3rd-round draft choice in June and 88th overall selection, blanked the Spartans on one hit and two strikeouts in the third and fourth innings, and a Jesus Navarro RBI single gave the Lugnuts a five-run lead in the bottom of the fourth.
The Spartans broke up the shutout in the fifth, drawing within 5-2 on a two-run single by Zaid Walker against Jolfrank Concepcion.
Then errors nearly became the game's biggest story.
A run-scoring throwing error by Spartans shortstop Royce Ando built the Lugnuts to a 6-2 lead in the fifth.
Three outs away from victory in the seventh inning, the Lugnuts committed three errors in a four-batter span - two by second baseman Jose Rivas , and a two-run error by third baseman Miguel Hiraldo . Down 6-4 with the bases loaded and two outs, Spartans third baseman Peter Ahn struck out swinging against left-hander Naswell Paulino , ending the game.
Shortstop Capra led the Lugnuts offense, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs, two runs scored and a stolen base, and center fielder Steward Berroa added a pair of infield singles, a steal and a run scored.
Spartans catcher Adam Proctor only batted once in the game, the strikeout against Pearson, but he won a dramatic pre-game Home Run Derby, becoming a two-time champion in the event. Proctor, Andrew Morrow and Zaid Walker each hit four home runs in the three-minute first round, and then tied again at three homers in a one-minute swing-off. In a second one-minute swing-off, Proctor again blasted three home runs, while Morrow managed two long balls and Walker was shutout. In the finals, the Lugnuts' Freddy Rodriguez hit six home runs in three minutes, matching his first-round total. Proctor countered with six homers in the first 80 seconds, and then took a breather before immediately bashing a championship-clinching home run to the grass in right-center.
The 2018 Midwest League Postseason opens on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m., pitting the Lugnuts against the Bowling Green Hot Rods in Game 1 of the Best-of-Three Eastern Division Semifinals. The game will feature two specials: $1 hot dogs and $5 Bev Bands.
To purchase tickets and live the Lug Life at Cooley Law School Stadium, visit lansinglugnuts.com or call (517) 485-4500.
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