Williams, Panas flex muscles, Lugnuts win Showdown
By Jeff Barnes (MSU) and Jesse Goldberg-Strassler / Lansing Lugnuts
LANSING, Mich. - Christian Williams slugged a two-run homer, and the Lansing Lugnuts topped the Michigan State Spartans, 4-1, in the 10th Crosstown Showdown presented by Auto-Owners Insurance before a crowd of 8,432 on Tuesday night at Cooley Law School Stadium.
The annual exhibition game was played for the first time in September after being postponed in the spring.
Prior to the game, the two teams held a home run derby with three players from each team taking part. Connor Panas, Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. represented the Lugnuts, while Marty Bechina, Zach McGuire and Durkin participated for the Spartans. Panas belted 14 homers in the first round to lead all sluggers, while Durkin advanced from the MSU contingent with 10 roundtrippers. In the championship round, Panas again proved too much, outhomering Durkin 14-10.
The Lugnuts, whose regular season came to a close Monday, got on the board quickly, scoring twice in the bottom of the first against Ethan Landon (Loss) on an RBI triple by Bichette and an RBI single by J.B. Woodman.
Williams doubled the Lugnuts' lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the fourth with a two-run shot over the wall in right field.
With two outs in the seventh and final inning, a two-out Bichette error on a ball hit up the middle by Justin Antoncic scored Dan Chmielewski, foiling the shutout bid.
The Lugnuts utilized four newcomers, each a 2016 draftee called up from Short-Season Vancouver. Andy Ravel (Win) pitched the first two innings, with Mike Ellenbest handling the third and fourth, Zach Jackson taking the fifth and sixth, and Nick Hartman finishing off the seventh and allowing the only run, albeit unearned.
Cavan Biggio led the way offensively, going 2-for-3 with two stolen bases and a run scored, with Bichette, Williams, third baseman Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., catcher Javier Hernandez and shortstop Yeltsin Gudino making positive first impressions in their first games wearing a Lugnuts jersey.
The Spartans finished the game with nine hits. Riley McCauley struck out both batters he faced in the bottom of the sixth, while Chmielewski and Dan Durkin both finished with two hits to lead MSU.
"It was a beautiful night; great crowd, great atmosphere," MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr., said. "This is a first-class organization. (Lugnut manager) John Schneider and his team were very gracious to play tonight after their season is over. I'm sure they're ready to get home after a long season, but at the same time I'm sure they recognize what this game means to the community and Michigan State. I'm really pleased we were able to move the game to the fall, it was everything we thought it would be and more with the Home Run Derby. Nothing but positives to take away for us."
The Lugnuts open up the 2017 season, their 22nd year in the Midwest League, in 214 days from September 6th. For more information, call 517-485-4500 or visit lansinglugnuts.com.
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