Lopez Lifts Lugnuts in 10th, 5-4
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Otto Lopez's fourth hit of the night was a tie-breaking, two-out, two-run triple in the top of the tenth inning, helping the Lansing Lugnuts (31-29, 63-66) avoid a three-game sweep with a 5-4 victory over the South Bend Cubs (34-26, 71-57) on Friday night at Four Winds Field.
The Lugnuts drew within three games of the Cubs for the second and final playoff berth in the Midwest League's Eastern Division. 10 games remain in the season.
LJ Talley led off the top of the tenth with a single off Sean Barry (Loss, 0-3), moving bonus runner Ryan Gold to third base. Johnny Aiello popped out to second and Tanner Kirwer fouled out a safety-squeeze attempt, leaving it up to Lopez to come through. The Lugnuts leadoff hitter did exactly that, lining an 0-1 pitch to the wall in right-center, driving in both Gold and Talley for a 5-3 lead.
It was Lopez's fourth hit of the game and his Midwest League-leading 131st of the season, lifting his batting average to a MWL best .321.
The Cubs made the game tight in the bottom of the tenth, drawing within one run on Jake Slaughter's two-out RBI single to right, but MWL Post-Season All-Star Cre Finfrock stranded the tying and winning runs aboard, retiring Fidel Mejia on a groundout to second, to record his league-leading 16th save.
Lansing starter Sean Wymer tossed five innings, allowing three runs on six hits and three walks in a no-decision, striking out three. Will McAffer followed with three scoreless innings, fanning three, before Brody Rodning (Win, 1-0) pitched a scoreless ninth and faced one batter in the tenth.
In the win, Nuts second baseman LJ Talley went 3-for-5 with his fourth home run of the year while first baseman Yorman Rodriguez raised his batting average to .393, going 3-for-5 with an RBI single in the sixth inning that tied the score at 3-3.
The Lugnuts now return home, opening a seven-game homestand with the first of a four-game series against the Great Lakes Loons at 7:05 p.m. Saturday, Harry Potter Night with LAFCU Fireworks! 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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