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The Journal Gazette

Monday, September 11, 2017 12:20 am

Notebook: Lopez delivers defensive gems

CHRIS GOFF | The Journal Gazette

DAYTON, Ohio – When the TinCaps' Reinaldo Ilarraza suffered a dislocated finger in the first round of the Midwest League playoffs, the San Diego Padres had to pick another infielder to send to their low-A affiliate.

San Diego settled on Justin Lopez. In Sunday night's 6-0 win over Dayton in Game 2 of the Eastern Division Championship Series, Lopez showed why he was a solid choice.

The 17-year-old Venezuelan made an offensive contribution by going 1 for 3, but his defense is what stood out the most. Not only did he range to his left to lay out for a diving stop on a fifth-inning grounder, Lopez robbed Bruce Yari a second time in the eighth. Lopez stretched to snare a smashed line drive and then, with his momentum going the wrong way, threw back to second to double off Jose Siri and end the inning.

Lopez was promoted from short-season Tri-City where he had 69 putouts and 81 assists in 37 games at second base. He also played some shortstop.

"We knew we had a group of young infielders that were going to be able to hold their own defensively," TinCaps manager Anthony Contreras said. "It's fun to see 17-year-old kids play at this level and contribute."

Dry spell: After Jorge Ona was hit by a pitch in the third inning, Dayton's pitching staff set down 17 hitters in a row. The TinCaps finally got another baserunner in the ninth when Ona singled off the wall in left field.

No limitations: Fort Wayne ace Michel Baez, who will start Monday's winner-take-all Game 3, will be pitching on four days' rest as opposed to his usual five. However, Contreras said the Padres have not informed him of any restrictions on Baez.