EASTLAKE, Ohio – Top Cleveland pitching prospect Daniel Espino struck out 10 batters in five innings but gave up a pair of crucial Jordan Díaz home runs, turning the tide toward a Lansing Locos (39-43) 5-3 win over los Picantes de Lake County (44-38) on a Copa de la Diversión
EASTLAKE, Ohio – Top Cleveland pitching prospect Daniel Espino struck out 10 batters in five innings but gave up a pair of crucial Jordan Díaz home runs, turning the tide toward a Lansing Locos (39-43) 5-3 win over los Picantes de Lake County (44-38) on a Copa de la Diversión Friday night at Classic Park.
The 20-year-old Díaz, the youngest player on the Lansing roster, did not start the game, but he did enter shortly after it had begun – and he wasted no time in swinging the balance toward Lansing.
With the Locos trailing 2-1 in the third inning, Díaz came up for the first time Espino. A foul and a swing and a miss gave Espino a quick two-strike edge, and the 20-year-old right-hander attempted to follow up with a fastball high and away. Díaz went out and got it, smashing a game-tying home run onto the berm in right-center.
Two innings later with the score still tied at 2-2, Díaz came back to the plate with teammates Marcos Brito and DJ Lee at first and second base respectively. Again Espino got out in front, but failed to tempt Díaz on a low 1-2 breaking ball. The next pitch was aimed toward the outside corner, where Díaz met it firmly and sent it screaming over the top of the right-field wall for a 5-2 Lansing lead.
The run support backed a strong Locos pitching performance.
Starter Colin Peluse outdueled Espino with 5 2/3 innings of three-hit, two-run ball, walking one while striking out six.
Dalton Sawyer relieved Peluse and gave up a first-pitch home run to George Valera before recording the next three outs, then handed the ball over to Garrett Acton for the final out of the seventh and a perfect eighth, including three straight strikeouts.
The ninth belonged to Charles Hall, who struck out Valera and Victor Nova in a 1-2-3 frame to end the game.
Lansing and Lake County have split the first four games of the series, leaving the weekend remaining. On Saturday at 7 p.m., the Lugnuts will send right-hander Shohei Tomioka (4.73 ERA) to the mound against Lake County right-hander Hunter Gaddis (4.73 ERA) in the penultimate game of the series.
The Nuts play the Captains through Sunday on the road before returning home from August 10-15 to host the Dayton Dragons. To purchase tickets, visit lansinglugnuts.com or call (517) 485-4500.
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