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The Lakeland College baseball team got a hard fought 9-8 win over the Vikings of Lawrence University on Saturday afternoon.
The Muskies (6-3) defense struggled for the third consecutive game, but their bats and pitching were enough to get the victory.
Lakeland sent junior right-hander Andy Chitwood to the mound for their final game in the Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic. The Muscoda, Wis., native won his second game of the week, pitching 8 1/3 innings. He allowed eight runs, six earned, on 11 hits, while striking out four against two walks.
Chitwood ran into trouble in the ninth and was replaced by freshman right-hander Trent Schwalbach, who notched his first collegiate save. The Escanaba, Wis., native got the final two outs of the game and recorded one strike out.
The Muskies got on the board first, scoring two runs on two hits in the second inning. Senior Garrett Morris (Janesville, Wis.) led off with a double and after two strikeouts and a Jess Nickel (Waupun, Wis.) hit by pitch, sophomore outfielder Charlie Sparrow (Milwaukee, Wis.) hit a two-RBI double to left field.
The 2-0 lead would be short-lived as the Vikings scored four runs on five hits in the third inning, after left fielder Nate Soley (River Falls, Wis.) got turned around on a deep drive to left field. The Muskies had an answer though, as Lakeland scored a run in the fourth, three in the fifth and two in the sixth to take an 8-4 lead into the seventh inning. In all three innings, Lawrence committed at least one error which led to Lakeland runs.
The Muskies used small ball to get a much needed insurance run in the top of the eighth. Sophomore shortstop Ryan Boettcher (Bonduel, Wis.) led off with a walk and senior Mike Ruzek (Manitowoc, Wis.) was hit by a pitch for the seventh time this season. Morris sacrificed the runners over and junior first baseman Matt Krueger (Medford, Wis.) hit an RBI groundout to the shortstop, scoring Boettcher.
The Lawrence rally fell short in the ninth, as the Vikings scored three runs on one hit and one error. A walk and an error put runners on first and second before Gabe Henriques tripled to right center and later scored on a wild pitch. However, Schwalbach would get a ground ball and a strike out to close the game.
Morris led the Muskies at the plate, going 3-for-3 with two runs scored and a walk. Ruzek, Brent Steudel (Hortonville, Wis.) and Sparrow finished with two hits each, while Ruzek also scored two runs. Krueger finished the game 1-for-5 with three RBI's and one run scored.
Lakeland finished the Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic 6-3 and will return to the field on Saturday, March 24, when the Muskies host Finlandia University in a non-conference double-header on the Lakeland College campus. First pitch is scheduled for 11 a.m.