10th-Inning Loss Ends Nuts' Playoff Hopes
LANSING, Mich. - In the regular-season home finale at Cooley Law School Stadium, the Lansing Lugnuts (34-33, 66-70) rallied from a two-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth, but could not repeat the feat in the tenth in a 6-5 loss to the West Michigan Whitecaps (26-41, 47-89).
Coupled with a 6-4 South Bend victory over Fort Wayne, the loss officially eliminated the Lugnuts from 2019 postseason contention.
A crowd of 5,011 attended the contest, bringing the season total to 311,028 - the 24th consecutive season that the Lugnuts have topped the 300,000-fan plateau.
With the score tied 1-1 in the top of the eighth and two outs, Whitecaps catcher Cooper Johnson looped a two-run single to right field off reliever Will McAffer, with a third run scoring on a throwing error by right fielder Griffin Conine, lifting the Whitecaps into a 4-1 lead.
The Lugnuts trimmed the deficit to 4-2 in the bottom of the eighth on an LJ Talley sacrifice fly off reliever Zack Hess, plating Conine.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Nuts threatened again, loading the bases with two outs against Whitecaps reliever Angel Reyes (Blown Save, 4). On a 1-2 pitch, Gabriel Moreno sent a broken-bat grounder deep into the shortstop hole, where it ticked off the glove of Wenceel Perez as Tanner Kirwer and Otto Lopez scored the game-tying runs.
But in the tenth inning, facing Marcus Reyes (Loss, 7-3), an Andre Lipcius RBI single and a run-scoring wild pitch pushed the Whitecaps back into a two-run lead at 6-4.
A Zac Shepherd (Win, 1-1) wild pitch in the bottom of the tenth brought in Talley, shaving the 'Caps' lead down to a run. The Lugnuts came no closer; Shepherd set down Ryan Gold on a grounder to second.
In the loss, Johnny Aiello went 1-for-5 with an RBI double, extended his hitting streak to 13 games, and leadoff hitter Lopez went 3-for-3 with two singles, one double and two walks, increasing his league-leading batting average to .323.
The Nuts finish up the 2019 season with a three-game series at Fort Wayne beginning Saturday, before returning home on Tuesday to play the 13th Annual Crosstown Showdown presented by Auto-Owners Insurance against Michigan State University. 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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