FORT WAYNE, Ind. - Reggie Pruitt spurred a three-run tie-breaking rally in the ninth with an RBI triple, pushing the Lansing Lugnuts (39-23) past the Fort Wayne TinCaps (27-33), 6-3, on Saturday night at Parkview Field.
Thanks to a doubleheader split between South Bend and West Michigan, the Lugnuts narrowed their magic number for clinching a playoff berth to 2.
Ryan Gold led off the top of the ninth with a four-pitch walk against Midwest League All-Star Travis Radke (Loss, 0-3) and was replaced by pinch-runner Kevin Vicuna , one of the Lugnuts' four All-Stars. After Andres Sotillo bunted foul on an 0-2 pitch for a strikeout, Pruitt shot a Radke offering down the right-field line into the Fort Wayne bullpen, sending Vicuña racing around to give the Lugnuts the 4-3 lead. Samad Taylor followed by bouncing an RBI single through a drawn-in infield, making it 5-3. Following a catcher's interference call and a fielder's choice, Taylor pulled off a double steal with Brock Lundquist , stealing home plate to close out the scoring.
Reliever Kyle Weatherly (Win, 1-0) was the recipient of the late offense, firing the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, allowing one run on two hits and one walk.
Claudio Custodio closed the game out with a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out prospect Esteury Ruiz for his second save.
The Lugnuts were held hitless through the first five innings by 18-year-old Luis Patiño, managing only three walks and a hit-by-pitch.
Down 2-0 entering the sixth, the Nuts turned things around against reliever Caleb Boushley. Lundquist lined a one-out single to center field, ending the no-hit bid, and Ryan Noda blasted a two-out, two-run homer to right field - his fourth home run in his last three games and five homer in his last seven games - to tie the score at 2-2. Two batters later, Gold doubled in Yeltsin Gudino to put the Lugnuts in front.
A Nick Feight double-play grounder brought in Luis Almanzar in the sixth against Weatherly, tying the game at 3-3 and setting up the ninth-inning drama.
Lansing All-Star Maverik Buffo fired five innings, striking out three while allowing seven hits, two runs and two walks in a no-decision.
The Lugnuts improved to 4-4 on their season-long 13-game, 14-day road trip.
The third game of the four-game series is set for 3:05 p.m. Sunday, with Lansing right-hander Maximo Castillo (5.96 ERA) taking the mound against a TinCaps starter yet to be announced.
The Lugs return to Cooley Law School Stadium on Friday, June 15th, opening a three-game series against South Bend featuring Family Faith Night with LAFCU Fireworks on June 15th, Star Wars Night with LAFCU Fireworks on June 16th, and a Father's Day Delta Dental Kids Day with a special Jersey Giveaway on June 17th. To purchase tickets and live the Lug Life, visit lansinglugnuts.com or call (517) 485-4500.
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.