LANSING, Mich. - A night after riding an 11-run seventh inning to victory, the Lansing Lugnuts (6-3) enjoyed a milder rally - four runs - that proved enough for a 4-2 series-opening win over the West Michigan Whitecaps (6-2) on Friday night at Cooley Law School Stadium.
Through nine games, the Nuts have scored 22 runs in the seventh inning. They have not scored more than eight runs in any other inning.
The Whitecaps took a 1-0 lead into the home seventh, thanks to a second-inning two-out RBI single from Dylan Rosa and six scoreless innings from starter Eudis Idrogo.
But the Lugnuts rallied against reliever John Hayes (Loss, 0-1), loading the bases on an infield single and two errors, tying the score on a Cullen Large sacrifice fly, and then taking the lead on a Kevin Vicuna RBI infield single. Kacy Clemens followed with a slow roller to the left of second. West Michigan second baseman Alexis Garcia reached the baseball belatedly and let loose an ill-advised throw that sailed into the Lugnuts dugout, all the while two more runs scored for a 4-1 lead.
In their last gasp, the Whitecaps loaded the bases in the ninth with one out on three singles against reliever Turner Larkins . Closer Ty Tice relieved Larkins and coaxed Garcia to hit into an RBI fielder's choice, bringing the 'Caps within two. Cole Peterson then lined out to center field, ending the game.
Lugnuts starter Graham Spraker pitched five innings in a no-decision, allowing only two hits, walking one and striking out four. Larkins (Win, 1-1) followed with 3 1/3 innings, giving up five hits and striking out seven.
Tice notched his league-leading third save.
Vicuña led the Lugs' offense with three hits in four at-bats, raising his batting average to .308. Clemens finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
Right-hander Maverik Buffo (2.25 ERA) starts the middle game of the three-game series, set for a 6:05 p.m. start on Saturday. West Michigan counters with right-hander Garett King (4.15) on Salute to Bro-Tanks / College Keystone Night. The first 1,000 fans will receive a special Lug Life Bro-Tank. To purchase tickets and live the LugLife, 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.