FORT WAYNE, Ind. - In a crucial pair of at-bats, reliever Andy McGuire twice retired slugger Michael Curry with the potential game-tying runs in scoring position, and the Lansing Lugnuts (35-34, 67-71) held off the Fort Wayne TinCaps (29-40, 62-75), 7-5, in 2019's penultimate game on Sunday night at Parkview Field.
The Lugnuts and TinCaps have split the first two games of the three-game series, leaving one game remaining in the season for both teams.
Nuts starter Cobi Johnson (Win, 3-9) tossed 5 2/3 innings, departing in favor of McGuire in the bottom of the sixth with a 7-5 lead and the bases loaded with TinCaps. Curry, the no. 3 hitter in the Fort Wayne order, worked the count to 3-2 before McGuire induced a groundout to third base, ending the threat.
McGuire worked a scoreless seventh inning, stranding Dwanya Williams-Sutton at third base, before finding more trouble in the eighth. With two outs, a wild pitch had moved Chandler Seagle to third base and Ripken Reyes to second base - and Michael Curry again stood at the plate. Again the count went full. And again, it was McGuire who prevailed, coaxing a groundout to shortstop to end the inning.
Brody Rodning (Save, 1) pitched a scoreless ninth, working around a two-out hit-by-pitch with two strikeouts, to lock down the victory.
While the game ended on the shoulders of the Lansing pen, the early headlines were written by the Nuts' big bats. Yorman Rodriguez and Griffin Conine delivered RBI base hits in the first inning and Rodriguez came through again with an RBI double in the third inning to help the Nuts build a 3-0 lead against TinCaps starter Omar Cruz (Loss, 2-2).
After a Jawuan Harris two-run homer in the third shaved the lead to one run, the Nuts responded with two-run rallies in the fourth and fifth innings, taking a 7-2 lead - before having to grit out the victory late.
In the end, the TinCaps only had themselves to blame. The home team committed five errors, leading to three unearned runs, and went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
In the win, Rodriguez and Tanner Kirwer each went 3-for-5; Otto Lopez finished 2-for-5 with two runs scored and a two-run double to raise his league-leading batting average to .324; and Johnny Aiello went 1-for-4 with a single in his final at-bat to extend his hitting streak to 15 games.
The Nuts wrap up the season with the TinCaps at 1:05 p.m. on Labor Day Monday, sending right-hander Sean Wymer (5.74 ERA) against Fort Wayne left-hander Efrain Contreras (3.65 ERA), before returning home on Tuesday to play the 13th Annual Crosstown Showdown presented by Auto-Owners Insurance against Michigan State University. To live the Lug Life and purchase tickets, visit lansinglugnuts.com, call (517) 485-4500 or come to the Cooley Law School Stadium box office at 505 E. Michigan Ave. in downtown Lansing.
# # #
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.