LANSING, Mich. – The division-leading Dayton Dragons had not yet lost two days in a row, nor had they lost a game in 2022 in which they led – until Tyler Soderstrom stepped to the plate in the bottom of the ninth and delivered a game-winning grand slam, launching the
LANSING, Mich. – The division-leading Dayton Dragons had not yet lost two days in a row, nor had they lost a game in 2022 in which they led – until Tyler Soderstrom stepped to the plate in the bottom of the ninth and delivered a game-winning grand slam, launching the Lansing Lugnuts (13-17) to a 7-3 victory over the division-leading Dragons (20-9) on Friday night at Jackson® Field™.
The big swing ended an 0-for-14 slump for the Athletics’ No. 1 prospect in addition to giving the Lugnuts’ their third walk-off win of the homestand.
With the game tied 3-3 entering the bottom of the ninth, Dayton reliever Jake Gilbert retired Euribiel Ángeles on a groundout to second before plunking Marty Bechina to put the potential game-winning run aboard. Lawrence Butler singled Bechina to second base. After a mound visit, Gilbert walked Brett Harris on five pitches to load the bases for Soderstrom. With Dayton’s infield and outfield drawn in, the Lansing first baseman swatted an 0-1 pitch onto the grassy berm in right-center, touching off a wild celebration at home plate.
It was Soderstrom’s fourth home run of the season as well as his second career grand slam as a pro.
Lugnuts starter Jeff Criswell was the early story of the game, setting down 14 consecutive Dragons after escaping a bases-loaded threat in the first inning. Criswell departed with eight strikeouts in five scoreless innings, allowing one hit and two walks.
But a Lansing 2-0 lead quickly disappeared in a three-batter span in the sixth. With two outs, Elly De La Cruz homered to center field off reliever Daniel Martinez, Nick Quintana walked and Alex McGarry homered to right, giving Dayton a 3-2 lead.
In the last of the seventh, the Lugnuts struck back against Dayton reliever Spencer Stockton. Bechina doubled down the left-field line, moved to third on a Butler grounder and scored on a Harris single up the middle.
The game-tying RBI single was just the latest in a series of big swings for Brett Harris, who followed up a 3-for-3, two-HR game on Wednesday by going 3-for-4 with a walk, an RBI single, a double and a solo homer measured at 421 feet. The former Gonzaga Bulldog leads the Midwest League with a .450 on-base percentage, is second in the league with a 1.077 OPS and ranks fourth with a .337 batting average.
After Martinez blanked the Dragons in a perfect seventh inning, Joe DeMers faced the minimum in a scoreless eighth and ninth to set the stage for Soderstrom’s dramatic blast.
In the win, Bechina, Butler and Drew Swift each collected two hits for the Lugnuts, with Bechina scoring three runs. The former MSU Spartan has now tallied six runs in five games with Lansing.
The Lugnuts look for a third straight win over Dayton on Friday night, Biker Night and a LAFCU Frontline Friday, with gates opening at 6 p.m. for a 7:05 p.m. first pitch. Nuts right-hander Osvaldo Berrios (6.84 ERA) starts against Dragons right-hander Connor Phillips (4.13 ERA). For more information or to purchase tickets, visit lansinglugnuts.com or call (517) 485-4500.
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