Nuts Drop Game 1 in 10 Innings, 4-3
LANSING, Mich. - Taylor Walls scored from second base on a Ronaldo Hernandez two-out infield single, and the Bowling Green Hot Rods outlasted the Lansing Lugnuts in 10 innings, 4-3, in Game 1 of the Eastern Division Semifinals on Wednesday night at Cooley Law School Stadium.
The game was played in a tense three hours, nine minutes, with two different rain delays totaling 51 minutes prolonging the drama.
After playing in the regular season with the experimental rule placing a runner at second base to start extra innings, the Lugnuts and Hot Rods entered extra innings in a 3-3 tie without a placed runner. Lugnuts right-hander Matt Shannon (Loss, 0-1) dispatched Vidal Brujan on a flyout to center, struck out Moises Gomez, and knocked down a hot grounder off Walls's bat - but in his haste to make the play at first base, Shannon threw the ball over the head of first baseman Ryan Noda. Walls landed at second base.
Jim Haley drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch, putting Hot Rods at first and second. Hernandez also worked the count full, which put both runners in motion on a slow chopper to the left of second base. Second baseman Samad Taylor ranged far to his right, cutting in front of shortstop Vinny Capra to backhand and throw late to first base. Walls never stopped running, scoring the tie-breaking run ahead of Noda's throw to the plate.
The Lugnuts had previously rallied from 1-0 and 3-1 deficits, tying the score in the fifth inning on an Andres Sotillo opposite-field home run to right, and in the eighth inning on a two-out Norberto Obeso two-run triple off the right field wall.
There was no rally in the bottom of the 10th. Matt Seelinger (Win, 1-0) wrapped up 2 1/3 perfect innings, striking out Capra, setting down Reggie Pruitt on a grounder and inducing Jesus Navarro to fly out to center field.
19-year-old Lansing right-hander Maximo Castillo pitched well in a no-decision, holding the Hot Rods to two hits - a Haley second-inning homer and a Walls fourth-inning double - in 5 2/3 innings.
Sotillo went 2-for-4 with a single and home run in defeat, the only Lugnut with a multi-hit game.
The series now shifts to Bowling Green Ballpark in Bowling Green, Kentucky, for Game 2 and a possible Game 3 in the best-of-three series. The Hot Rods need one more win to move into the Eastern Division Finals against the winner of Great Lakes/West Michigan, while the Lugnuts must win on Thursday night at 7:35 p.m. Eastern in order to keep their season alive. Nuts right-hander Graham Spraker receives the start, opposed by Hot Rods right-hander Tommy Romero. For more information, visit lansinglugnuts.com or call (517) 485-4500.
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