DAYTON, OH - Only Miles Gordon's sixth-inning triple prevented a trio of Lansing Lugnuts (24-24, 63-53) pitchers from combining on a perfect game, settling instead for a 6-0 shutout of the Dayton Dragons (21-27, 49-69), 6-0, on Saturday night at Fifth Third Field.
The Lugnuts have tossed only two no-hitters in 24 seasons franchise history, with zero perfect games - but they nearly accomplished the feat in the opener of the three-game series.
Starter Troy Watson (Win, 6-3) set down the first 16 Dragons before Gordon tripled down the right-field line with one out in the bottom of the sixth. The right-hander responded by striking out Randy Ventura and retiring Michael Siani on a comebacker, and then capped his stint with a 1-2-3 seventh inning.
In all, Watson used 87 pitches, 59 for strikes, in holding the Dragons' offense to a 1-for-22 showing with four strikeouts.
Reliever Will McAffer and Cre Finfrock took it from there. McAffer struck out the side in the eighth in his return from winning the silver medal with Team Canada at the 2019 Pan-Am Games. Finfrock then whiffed a pair in the ninth before getting Siani on a grounder to end the game.
Dayton starter Connor Curlis (Loss, 4-4) matched Watson zero for zero until Griffin Conine broke the deadlock with a two-out, two-strike, two-run single in the sixth inning.
The Lugnuts added insurance to their lead against the Dayton pen: Otto Lopez 's RBI triple in the seventh off Alec Byrd gave the Nuts a 3-0 lead; Conine's 18th home run of the year, tying for the league lead, made it 4-0 in the eighth off Andrew McDonald; and a run-scoring wild pitch and a Lopez RBI single off Jerry D'Andrea in the ninth supplied the final margin.
Conine finished 3-for-5 with three RBIs in leading a 13-hit attack. Lopez finished 2-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to a team high 13 games.
Right-hander Troy Miller (5.24 ERA) starts the middle affair of the series at 2:00 p.m. Sunday, taking on Dayton right-hander Eduardo Salazar (4.34).
The Lugnuts return to Cooley Law School Stadium on Wednesday, August 14th, to open a seven-game homestand against Fort Wayne and Dayton. 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.
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.