|UNOH (32-10, 22-2 WHAC)||1||0||0||0||1||0||2||0||0||4||9||0|
|Madonna (22-14, 14-8 WHAC)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||5||0|
|Livonia, MI Comerica Park|
|2 Players (#10,#20)||Doubles||#12 Ryan Freemantle|
|#9 Carlos Baerga, Jr.||Triples||None|
|#10 Kyle Fisher||Home Runs||None|
DETROIT, Mich. – After an hour and five minute rain delay, the Madonna University baseball team got the experience of a lifetime; playing host to No. 13 University of Northwestern Ohio at Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday night.
Despite a 4-0 loss, the Crusaders (22-15, 14-8 WHAC) enjoyed the experience and the chance to play on the big league field.
"This was a professional opportunity tonight and we were treated like professionals," said Crusaders Head Coach Ted Falkner. "The Tigers organization did a phenomenal job and kept the field tarped with their professional ground crew to give us a chance to play tonight and that was awesome. Wish we could've had on-field batting practice and taken groundballs so all the guys could say they've done that, but that's how it goes. The chance to play under the lights on a big stage was really cool."
"We didn't think we'd get to play, so to be able to get the game in and play on that field; the feeling is indescribable," said Crusaders first basemen Taylor Grzelakowski (SR/Fraser, Mich.). "My first at-bat my feet were cemented in the batter's box, it was like being a freshman in my first college at-bat all over again. The best memory for me was being able to say I played where [Miguel] Cabrera plays and my helmet went where Cabrera's goes; something I'll remember for the rest of my life."
"This was a great experience and great opportunity for us; a once in a lifetime thing," said Madonna right fielder Ryan Freemantle (SR/Mississauga, Ontario). "Playing there, at that venue and seeing what it's like to play in the bigs was awesome. That playing surface was better than anything we've ever played on and it's definitely something I'll remember from my time at Madonna."
Coach Falkner also added that the Crusaders would like to make a yearly trip to Comerica while dates and opponents are still being discussed.
The game didn't get off to a good start for the Crusaders fans, who made up the majority of the 955 fans in attendance, as Kyle Fisher led off the game with a home run off MU starter Alex DeYonker (SR/Livonia, Mich.). The Crusader lefty settled in after that and allowed just four hits and struck out two in his three innings.
Madonna tallied five hits and drew two walks, but stranded four baserunners and hit into bad luck most of the night. The Blue and Gold hit into seven line drive outs, which included a line drive double play in the third and line out that Racers' (33-10, 22-1 WHAC) starter Damon Proctor barley snared off the bat of Freemantle to end the seventh.
The Crusaders best offensive opportunity came in the second as Freemantle recorded a two-out double down the left field line that landed in no-man's land, but a strikeout ended the frame.
"At that point in the game we were down two," said Freemantle of his double. "It was a big confidence boost and I was just trying to get on base and get something going to get us on the board. Once you get going and get into the game, your emotions aren't as big of an issue and you just play the game."
A double, sacrifice and a wild pitch plated the second run for UNOH in the fifth, then the Lima, Ohio program broke the game open in the seventh. Three hits, two singles and a double, plated the final two runs for the final margin.
Johno Rodriguez (SR/Sterling Heights, Mich.) relieved DeYonker and allowed three runs on three hits with a walk and four strikeouts in 3.1 innings before Todd Jones (JR/Monroe, Mich.) relieved him with one hit and a strikeout in his two-thirds of an inning. Zack Schmidtke (SR/Dearborn Heights, Mich.) and Layne Gusler (SR/Woodhaven, Mich.) each tossed an inning and combined to allow one hit, two walks and a strikeout.
Five different Crusaders, Ryan Lambrecht (SR/Lake Orion, Mich.), Jared Hagan (JR/Dearborn Heights, Mich.), Jalen Thomas (SO/Southfield, Mich.), Mitch Hudvagner (JR/Cottam, Ontario) and Freemantle recorded a hit with Freemantle posting the only extra-base knock.
Damon Proctor earned the win for UNOH as he moved to 10-0 with five hits, two walks and nine strikeouts in eight innings on 131 total pitches.
"Proctor showed why he's one of the best pitchers in the conference tonight," added Falkner. "Their offense is pretty good and you throw a guy like that out there and they are a pretty tough team to beat. We competed, hit several line drives at people, but that's baseball. I know we are going to have another opportunity and have already moved on from this series. I know we'll see them again in the conference tournament and we have to focus on another big weekend at Indiana Tech."
The Crusaders have two days off before traveling to Fort Wayne, Indiana to face No. 19 Indiana Tech for a doubleheader on Saturday, Apr. 23 beginning at 1 p.m. Live coverage of the games are available via the Indiana Tech Sports Network at madonnacrusaders.com/live.
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