Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette The TinCaps' Luis Campusano bats in the third inning against Lansing on Thursday at Parkview Field.
Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette The TinCaps’ Justin Lopez singled and scored the first run against Lansing in the first inning Thursday at Parkview Field.
Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette The TinCaps' Gabriel Arias bunts in the fifth inning inning against Lansing on Thursday at Parkview Field.
Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette TinCaps Luis Campusano hits a base hit in the third inning against Lansing Thursday night at Parkview Field.
Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette The TinCaps' Luis Campusano throws to first in the fourth inning against Lansing on Thursday at Parkview Field.
Friday, April 13, 2018 1:00 am
Lugnuts 13, TinCaps 4
Lansing ups ante with 11-run 7th
Avenges TinCaps' same inning 8-run rally the prior night
DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette
What's better than an eight-run inning? The answer is an 11-run inning, as the TinCaps discovered Thursday night.
One night after Fort Wayne ran away with a victory thanks to an eight-run explosion in the seventh inning, the Lansing Lugnuts outdid their hosts with 11 runs in the same frame.
The 45-minute top of the seventh turned a TinCaps lead into a commanding Lansing advantage and the Lugnuts coasted to a 13-4 victory in front of an announced attendance of 4,049 on a warm night at Parkview Field.
“We just have to pitch better, we have to play defense better, we have to do a lot of stuff better,” manager Anthony Contreras said. “These guys are learning. No reason to get mad or frustrated with this stuff, things just have to change for the better and it has to start soon or these guys are going to get a wakeup call pretty quickly.”
The seventh inning began with the home team in front 3-2. More than 60 pitches later, the TinCaps (1-7) trailed 13-3, the Lugnuts had sent 12 batters to the plate and there was not yet an out. It took four Fort Wayne pitchers to eventually get through the frame, which featured seven walks, five hits, two balks and an error.
Before the big inning, the TinCaps had played a clean game, jumping out to an early lead behind a youthful group at the top of the lineup. Contreras started the three youngest players in the Midwest League – Gabriel Arias, Justin Lopez and Tirso Ornelas – in the first three spots and the trio sparked Fort Wayne's best rally in the first inning. With one out, Lopez reached on a hot smash to third and Ornelas followed with a hard ground ball through the right side, one of his three hits.
“I think those guys can hit at the top,” Contreras said. “Everybody has an opportunity to see where they fit in the lineup and I thought it was a good day to put those guys at the top. They swing the bats well and we did some good things at the plate. Tirso getting three knocks was a high note for us.”
The back-to-back hits from Lopez and Ornelas brought another teenager, Luis Campusano, to the plate and he lined a home run off the yellow padding on the top of the fence in right field. It was the designated hitter's first homer, traveling 348 feet and putting the TinCaps in front 3-0.
Fort Wayne starter Aaron Leasher put together a solid outing, holding the high-scoring Lugnuts (5-3) at bay through 51/3 innings. He set down seven straight between the second and the fourth innings and exited with just two runs on his ledger. The left-hander utilized a good slider to keep Lansing off balance and finished with five strikeouts.
“All in all it was pretty good,” Leasher said of his 87-pitch outing. “(I was) getting ahead of hitters and mixing all my pitches for early strikes and that was kind of the main thing for me.
“The pitch count right now isn't super high, so (I was) just kind of working through those innings and trying to get the offense back out there.”