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Late inning rally by the Lugnuts falls one run short, 5-4

July 15, 2005 - Midwest League (MWL) - Lansing Lugnuts News Release

Battle Creek, Mich.- Fernando Perez scored a pair of runs and made a sensational leaping catch in the eighth inning to slow down a Lugnut rally as the Southwest Michigan Devil Rays(44-47,11-11) jumped out to a 5-0 lead and then held on for a 5-4 win over the Lugnuts (47-44, 10-12) in front of 1,421 fans on Friday evening in C.O. Brown Stadium.

Perez's catch turned out to be one of the biggest plays in the contest, but it didn't seem like a close game would take place after the Devil Rays jumped to an early 5-0 lead after two innings off Danny Core(4-5). After a 36-minute rain delay helped slow down the Lansing bats in the first, Shaun Cumberland's three-run homer in the first capped off a four-run frame and a two-out bases loaded walk issued by Core to Cumberland in the second inning allowed Perez to trot home for the second time in as many innings. Core settled down after the first two frames, working four innings and allowing seven hits and five earned runs with five walks and took the loss.

After Devil Ray starter Eddie De La Cruz(3-2) worked five shutout innings, Matt Larson kept Lansing off the board until the eighth. Consecutive singles by Jason Armstrong, Eugenio Velez and Eric Nielsen plated the Lugnuts' first run and made it 5-1. After a groundout to first by David Hicks plated Velez and made it 5-2, Lansing manager Ken Joyce asked pinch-hitter Charlie Anderson to attempt to keep the inning going. Anderson responded with a deep drive to right center field that crested the wall, but Perez leapt and pulled back the potential two-run homer and fired back to second to double off Nielsen, who had gotten all the way to the plate area.

The catch proved to be huge. After Scott Roy followed Aaron Tressler's stellar relief with a shutout inning of his own in the eighth, the Lugnuts rallied with two outs in the ninth against Jose De La Cruz to close within a run. After fanning Luke Hetherington and inducing a quick flyout off the bat of Christian Snavely, De La Cruz walked Ryan Klosterman and Aaron Mathews. Armstong followed with a RBI single on a 3-2 pitch to score Klosterman and cut the lead to 5-3. Velez followed with an RBI single that scooted over Devil Rays second baseman Patrick Cottrell's head at the last second into right field and brought in Mathews to make it a one-run game and sent Armstrong to second. With Nielsen at the plate, a wild pitch by De La Cruz put the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position, but the right hander got ahead in the count to Nielsen and induced a groundout to Cottrell to end the game.

Eddie De La Cruz allowed just four hits in five shutout innings to get the win and was helped on the offensive side of things by Perez, who went 3-4 with two runs scored and Cumberland, who drove in four. Armstrong went 3-5 in the loss for Lansing and Velez went 2-5.

The Lugnuts will aim to get back on the winning track after dropping the three-game series to the Devil Rays when they travel to Fort Wayne's Memorial Stadium to tangle with the Fort Wayne Wizards in the first of two games over the weekend. Game time is set for 8:00 EST in Fort Wayne with A.J. Wideman(5-5) going for Lansing against Fort Wayne's Joel Santo(2-7)

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