Grand Haven Tribune: Spring Lake ties Sparta in big-venue league game
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Spring Lake ties Sparta in big-venue league game

Duncan MacLean • May 14, 2019 at 12:15 AM

Spring Lake baseball’s annual trip to Fifth Third Ballpark took an interesting twist Monday, shifting from a fun-for-all local showcase to a must-win conference game. 

A rainy spring forced the change, as the Lakers were scheduled to take on Fremont at the home of the West Michigan Whitecaps on Monday, but needed to make up a postponed O-K Blue Conference game with Sparta, which was also scheduled to appear at the ballpark as part of the event. 

Taking the trouble to shuffle the schedule may have done more harm than good at the end of the day, as the league foes battled to a 5-5 tie through seven innings. With a busy schedule of high school games throughout the afternoon, the Lakers’ contest was left tied, only to be finished if necessary to finalize conference standings at the end of the season. 

“It was a headache, but it was something we had to take care of,” said Spring Lake head coach Jeff Lindsey. “It’s unbelievable to come play here. What I like about it is it’s all about the kids. Today, with it being a league game, it was about winning the game and that hurts because I want to get all the kids a chance to get on the field. But, with it being so close, we didn’t have that opportunity.”

Despite the vibe change, the Lakers till enjoyed a chance to play at a professional ballpark. 

“It is sweet to get out here,” said senior Grant Kieft. “I’ve been coming here to watch minor league games forever. It’s awesome being on the field, it feels like you are playing in the minors. With it being a conference game, the atmosphere was great. It’s always fun, but plus the conference game, it was intense. It’s a really awesome place to play.”

Spring Lake got comfortable in the minor league park right away, plating two runs in the first inning for an early lead. A single run in the third thanks to some heads-up baserunning by Isiah Lindsey bumped the lead to 3-0 before Sparta rounded the bases in the bottom of the inning to get on the board. 

Both teams sent three and lost three batters in the fourth thanks to solid defense. 

Spring Lake ran a few more bases in the fifth, as Lindsey got caught in a pickle between first and second, distracting the Spartans long enough for Jimmy Duer to score from third. 

Sparta responded in a big way in the bottom of the fifth, capitalizing on a pair of Laker fielding errors and a few drives into the deep outfield to plate five runs in the inning to take a late lead. 

Duer scored again in the sixth to tie things back up, reaching on a single and advancing on a bunt before scoring on a hard fly out by Callum Saxe. 

Luca Lyyski entered the game to handle the final two and two-thirds innings, forcing a pair of flyouts and fielding a grounder to end the sixth tied up. 

Neither team found the bases in the seventh, bringing the game to its final tally. 

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