LANSING, Mich. - Joey Murray set a new career high with 10 strikeouts, but a four-run 10th inning lifted the South Bend Cubs (9-8) to a rollercoaster 13-10 series-opening victory over the Lansing Lugnuts (9-8) on Monday night at Cooley Law School Stadium.
The game featured 28 hits, five errors, 23 runs, two D.J. Neal solo home runs and a dramatic series of lead changes in the final four innings.
The early story was Murray, who pitched 6 2/3 innings and became the first Lugnuts pitcher since Donnie Sellers on April 9, 2018, to reach double-digit strikeouts in an outing. He departed with two runners aboard and a 4-1 lead in the seventh - only to watch South Bend rally against reliever Mike Pascoe (Blown Save, 1), trimming the deficit to one-run on a Roederer two-run single before taking a 6-4 lead on an Andy Weber three-run homer.
The Lugnuts responded in the home half of the seventh. Jake Brodt 's first home run of the year, a three-run shot to right-center off reliever Jeff Passantino, put the Nuts up, 7-6.
In the top of the eighth, however, Eric Gonzalez's two-run single and D.J. Artis's RBI double off Sean Rackoski (Blown Save, 1) vaulted the Cubs back in front, 9-7.
Again the Lugnuts had an answer: Jordan Groshans plated Reggie Pruitt with an RBI groundout off Dalton Geekie (Win, 1-0) in the bottom of the eighth before right fielder Jonathan Sierra dropped a Brodt two-out fly ball, allowing Alejandro Kirk to score, and the game was tied at 9-9.
D.J. Artis broke the tie in the 10th with a two-run double to left off reliever Joey Pulido (Loss, 0-2) that got through left fielder Mc Gregory Contreras , allowing a third run to score. Cole Roederer followed with a sacrifice fly for a 13-9 South Bend lead.
In the bottom of the 10th, Groshans belted an RBI double to left off former Michigan State Spartan Riley McCauley, bringing the tying run to the on-deck circle. McCauley struck out Otto Lopez and Jake Brodt, however, to end a wild night at three hours and 49 minutes.
South Bend prospect southpaw Brailyn Marquez lasted only 4 2/3 innings, tagged for seven hits, three walks and four runs while striking out two.
Six different Lugnuts collected at least two hits in the game, led by Johnny Aiello , who went 3-for-4 with two doubles and a hit-by-pitch, and Neal, who knocked his first two home runs of the year, solo shots leading off the third and fifth innings. Only Lopez took an 0-fer, going hitless in six at-bats to end a 13-game on-base streak.
The middle game of the three-game series is on a $2 Taco Tuesday, featuring Lansing right-hander Josh Hiatt (4.63 ERA) against Cubs right-hander Derek Casey (9.00) at 6:05 p.m. Gates open at 5:00 p.m.
To purchase tickets and live the Lug Life at Cooley Law School Stadium, 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.