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The Lakeland College baseball team saw its chances at the Northern Athletics Conference tournament berth take a serious blow with two losses to Benedictine University in Lisle, Ill., on Saturday.
The Muskies (16-18, 6-12 NAC) rally wasn't enough in game one, losing 8-7 on a ninth inning walk-off sacrifice fly, before losing in 5-4 in game two.
In game one, senior Mike Ruzek took the ball and got a no-decision. The Manitowoc, Wis., native tossed six innings, allowing three runs on six hits with five strikeouts and two walks. Sophomore Matt Weller (Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.) took the loss as he allowed five runs, four earned, on just two hits, walking four. Junior reliever Justin Reminger (Leopolis, Wis.) tossed 1/3 of an inning, walking one batter.
Lakeland entered the game with an 11-4 record when scoring first and they did just that as Ruzek doubled in freshman Nate Soley (River Falls, Wis.) in the first inning, taking a 1-0 lead.
Ruzek allowed just one hit through the first three innings, allowing the Muskies to add to their lead in the fourth as Soley doubled home junior Andy Chitwood (Muscoda, Wis.) and senior Jess Nickel (Waupun, Wis.), giving Lakeland the 3-0 lead.
The Eagles got one back in the fourth on two hits, cutting the Muskie lead to 3-1. Both offenses remained silent until the seventh, when Benedictine broke the game open, scoring four runs on three hits, chasing Ruzek out of the game after a walk and double put runners on second and third with nobody out.
Lakeland rallied in the ninth, scoring four runs on four hits, with Garrett Morris (Janesville, Wis.) tying the game with a two-run, ground-rule double, scoring Charlie Sparrow (Milwaukee, Wis.) and Brent Steudel (Hortonville, Wis.). Matt Krueger (Medford, Wis.) and Ryan Boettcher (Bonduel, Wis.) each added RBI singles to give the Muskies the 7-5 lead. I would be short-lived as the Eagles scored three runs without a hit, aided by two Lakeland errors, to get the win, 8-7.
In game two, sophomore Derek Loomans (Brandon, Wis.) took the loss, pitching seven innings, allowing five runs, four earned, on nine hits with three strikeouts and two walks. Junior reliever David Cherney (Green Bay, Wis.) pitched one scoreless inning, allowing just one hit.
The Eagles jumped on Loomans early, scoring two runs on three hits, as the first three batters reached base. Benedictine would add single runs in the fourth and fifth innings to extend their lead to 4-0.
Lakeland was finally able to put some hits together in the seventh, scoring two runs courtesy of sophomore Tim Green (Hager City, Wis.) who singled in Boettcher and Krueger.
The Muskies rallied to tie the game in the eighth, as Krueger and Boettcher each delivered RBIs. The Eagles would not go quietly, scoring one run on two hits and an error in the eighth, taking the 5-4 lead.
The Muskies just didn't have enough offense to match the Eagles and now need help to have any chance at the NAC tournament.
Sparrow led the Muskie offense today, going 3-for-6 with two walks and two runs scored. Green had a big game off the bench, finishing 3-for 5 with two RBIs. Ruzek and Boettcher each finished with three hits and two RBIs.
Lakeland returns to action tomorrow, April 29, as the Muskies host the Raiders of the Milwaukee School of Engineering in a NAC doubleheader. First pitch is scheduled for Noon and it is also Lakeland's senior day.