Lugnuts Come up a Touchdown Short, 14-7
CEDAR RAPIDS, Ia. - Griffin Conine, Johnny Aiello and Otto Lopez each connected on a home run, but the Lansing Lugnuts (13-11, 45-48) were outslugged by the Cedar Rapids Kernels (14-10, 53-41), 14-7, in a Monday matinee at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
The Kernels hit six home runs, including a Wander Javier grand slam in an eight-run fourth inning, tying the Lugnuts franchise record for most homers allowed in a game.
Javier added a two-run blast in a three-run eighth inning for the Kernels, who homered twice apiece off starter Troy Miller (Loss, 3-4) and relievers Joey Pulido and Juan Nuñez.
Miller lasted three innings plus three batters, giving up solo home runs to Spencer Steer and Alex Isola among eight hits and six runs allowed. He departed with the bases loaded in the fourth inning and the Lugnuts leading 4-3. Gilberto Celestino greeted Pulido with a three-run double to put the Kernels up, 6-4. Pulido then walked the next two hitters to reload the bases before Javier launched a home run to left. Two batters later, Tyler Webb capped the rally with a solo roundtripper to left.
The Nuts had scored four runs off Kernels starter Austin Schulfer in the fourth inning to rally from an early 3-0 deficit, with an Aiello three-run homer tying the score and a DJ Neal RBI single giving Lansing a short-lived lead.
Conine knocked a two-run homer to center off Schulfer in the fifth, his 12th home run of the season, to bring the Nuts within 11-6.
In the eighth, Lopez led off by lacing Rickey Ramirez's first pitch just inside the left-field foul pole for his fourth home run of the year, trimming the deficit to 11-7.
But Nuñez, relieving an effective Sean Rackoski, served up a Gabe Snyder solo homer followed by a Jared Akins single and Javier's second roundtripper, putting the game out of reach.
In the loss, Rackoski distinguished himself with 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, allowing one hit and two walks while striking out three. Lopez and Rafael Lantigua each finished 3-for-5 to lead a 13-hit attack.
Cedar Rapids reliever Nate Hadley (Win, 1-0) was credited with the victory by the official scorer, tossing 1 1/3 scoreless innings and allowing two hits.
The Lugnuts finished their nine-game, ten-day road trip with a 6-3 record. Now the team returns to Cooley Law School Stadium, opening a six-game homestand on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m., a Dog Days of Summer, with the first of three games against the Burlington Bees. 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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