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The Lakeland College baseball team got back to their winning ways with a sweep of the Crusaders of Maranatha Baptist Bible College in the Muskies Northern Athletics Conference opener.
The Muskies (11-4, 2-0 NAC) scored 22 runs on 25 hits in the two games, winning game one, 10-0, in seven innings before taking game two, 12-2, also in seven innings.
Derek Loomans took the ball in game one and continued his stellar season. The Brandon, Wis., native scattered seven hits over seven shutout innings, walking one batter against four strikeouts. With the win, Loomans improves to 4-0 with a team-leading 1.05 ERA.
The Lakeland offense started slow, scoring two runs in the first three innings, all in the second, before exploding for eight in the final four frames.
In the fourth inning, senior Mike Ruzek (Manitowoc, Wis.) hit his first career home run, a two-run blast to right field, scoring Andy Chitwood. The Muskies added one more run in the fifth and then posted four in the sixth, highlighted by sophomore Tim Kuchenbecker's two-run home run, scoring Matt Krueger (Medford, Wis.) and extend the Lakeland lead to nine. Ruzek would end the game in the seventh with an RBI single to score David Green (Marshfield, Wis.).
Chitwood took the hill for game two, and he didn't disappoint. The Muscoda, Wis., native scattered five hits over seven innings, allowing two runs, while walking two against eight strikeouts. Chitwood improved to 4-0 and lowered his ERA to 2.96, third best on the team.
The Muskies struggled early on, leading 3-1 after three innings. Lakeland's bats came to live in the fifth, as the Muskies scored seven runs on six hits and two Crusaders errors to take a commanding 10-2 lead. Six Muskies recorded an RBI in the inning, while sophomore Charlie Sparrow (Milwaukee, Wis.) collected two hits in the inning. It was Sparrows bunt, which he beat out then advanced to third on a throwing error, which sparked the seven run outburst.
Garrett Morris (Janesville, Wis.) ended the game in the seventh with a two-out, two-run single to right field, scoring Kuchenbecker and Brent Steudel (Hortonville, Wis.).
Ruzek stole the show at the plate, going 5-for-9 with a double, a home run, four RBIs and four runs scored. Sparrow and Morris each finished 4-for-8, with Sparrow scoring once and Morris scoring twice and recording two RBIs. Krueger also had a big day, finishing 3-for-6 with four runs scored and four RBIs.
Lakeland looks to remain undefeated in the NAC as the Muskies travel to Fond du Lac, Wis. for a doubleheader against Marian University. First pitched is scheduled for 1 p.m. tomorrow, April 1.
See what Ruzek, Sparrow and Loomans have to say about their performances here.