East nips West 3-2 in all-star thriller at Lansing’s Cooley Law School Stadium
By Larry Hook
The Lookout Adviser
A crowd of 9,396 fans poured into Lansing’s Cooley Law School Stadium on Tuesday, June 17 to view the 2018 Midwest League All-Star Game.
The fans watched the Eastern All-Star Team, which included five Lansing Lugnuts, earn a thrilling 3-2, 10-inning win over the West All-Stars.
This was Lansing’s fourth time hosting the all-star game, but the first time since 2002. Top players from each of the 16 Midwest League teams, including five Lansing Lugnuts, competed in the contest.
Dayton Dragon Montrell Marshall stroked a two-out, two-strike single to right field in the bottom of the 10th inning, scoring Dayton teammate Stuart Fairchild with the winning run.
The game would have ended in a tie if Marshall had not come through with the walk-off hit. Both teams had exhausted their pitching staffs, and had agreed that the 10th inning would be the last.
Marshall, who was named the game’s Most Valuable Player, said he was aware of the circumstances as he stepped to the plate.
“I knew,” Marshall said. “They said that after the 10th inning we can’t play no more because we have no more pitchers. So I said, “Hey, we can’t end in a tie. The East is better than the West so we can’t end in a tie.’”
Marshall said he hit a curveball to drive in the winning run. The Eastern All-Stars mobbed Marshall following the hit and gave him a Gatorade bath.
“I’ve got a lot of Gatorade on me right now,” Marshall said. “It’s a little sticky but I’ll take this shower any day.”
Nick Grueser, the president of the Lansing Lugnuts, served as host of the festivities. He took credit for the walk-off hit by Marshall.
“I scripted that,” Grueser said with a laugh. “It was supposed to end that way, We wanted to go to the 10th, and right before we ran out of pitching we’d hit a walk-off single to win it. That’s how I wrote it up. We’ve been planning it that way for six months.”
In addition to the all-star game, the day’s festivities included an autograph session, batting practice open to fans, an all-star home run derby, a Ferris wheel, a house of mirrors, post-game fireworks, free posters, and an appearance by Humphrey the Camel.
Grueser said all-in-all, the entire event was a success.
“The walk-off was cool, and I thought the home run derby was a big highlight,” Grueser said. “And the block party out front went really well.
“Overall we were very pleased with the outcome. We sold literally every seat in the ballpark. For me, that was a highlight.”
Grueser credited his employees, and particularly the Lugnuts’ ground crew, for making the event a big success.
The hometown Lugnuts were represented by five All-Stars on the Eastern Division squad: second baseman Kevin Vicuna, outfielder Chavez Young, and pitchers Maximo Castillo, Dany Jimenez and Maverik Buffo.
Vicuna was a standout in the game, going two-for three with a double and a run scored.
Buffo, who did not appear in the game, said it was still an honor to represent the Lugnuts at the all-star game.
“To be a host … and to play a game with all of these guys is pretty awesome,” Buffo said. “I’m pretty lucky.”
For more information about the Lansing Lugnuts, go to https://www.milb.com/lansing/