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The Journal Gazette

  • Photos by Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette TinCaps starter Mason Thompson pitched into the sixth inning Monday, giving up two runs in a loss to Lansing.

  • TinCaps first baseman Luis Campusano catches a foul ball in the fifth inning Monday at Parkview Field. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018 1:00 am

Lansing 4, TinCaps 2

TinCaps' hitters silenced

Lansing starter outduels Fort Wayne's Thompson to clinch playoff spot

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

One night after the TinCaps' offense totaled a season-high 19 hits and 15 runs, the Fort Wayne offense couldn't push across any runs until the ninth inning.

Lansing Lugnuts starter Colton Laws retired the first 11 hitters he faced and pitched five shutout innings, Samad Taylor provided a go-ahead single in the sixth to break a scoreless tie and send the Lugnuts to a 4-2 victory Monday in the series finale at Parkview Field in front of an announced crowd of 5,455. 

The TinCaps (28-34) entered the ninth trailing 4-0 but got a rally going for the only time all night. Esteury Ruiz started the inning with a bunt single and later scored on a sacrifice fly from Luis Almanzar. Nick Feight drove in another run with a single, but Jalen Washington grounded to short to end the game and clinch a playoff spot for the Lugnuts (40-24).

“(We) didn't let the moment get too big,” manager Anthony Contreras said. “I like the competitiveness in them, just the resiliency of the way they go about their business late in the game and that's all you can ask for.”

Laws kept the Fort Wayne hitters off balance all night. He struck out only two, but induced plenty of weak contact and got Justin Lopez to ground out with two on in the fourth, the only inning he did not retire the side in order.

TinCaps' starter Mason Thompson was nearly as good. The 6-foot-7 right-hander pitched five innings, giving up three hits and two runs. He also retired the first 11 hitters he faced and had a couple extra ticks of velocity on his fastball, hitting 95 mph for the first time this season.

“(I'm) just feeling good,” Thompson said of the increased velocity. “I think as the season's progressed my arm's felt better and better and I think that added velocity is something that as I mature and continue to get stronger, it'll come.

“I don't really worry about it, I wasn't trying to reach for anything extra tonight, but I'm getting to that point in the season when my arm's feeling strong and I'm feeling healthy.”

Thompson's command was excellent all night, as he hit both corners consistently with his fastball. He complemented the fastball with a curveball that dipped as low as 71 mph and got two of his three strikeouts with a hard-breaking slider.

“In the beginning (of the season), I thought he was a little too fine, trying to be perfect with his pitches,” Contreras said of Thompson. “We watch him in bullpens, we see what his mindset is, and he'll admit his ability now to go after hitters and challenge them. He has a live arm, he has a good arsenal of pitches and he has to be able to let himself go.”

The 20-year-old started the sixth but gave up a single and a walk to open the inning before giving way to Ben Sheckler. Sheckler gave up an RBI single to Taylor to score the game's first run and a second run on a textbook squeeze bunt from Lansing. 

Lansing got two more runs in the eighth off former IPFW right-hander Evan Miller, including one on an RBI double from Taylor, who went 3 for 4. The win earned the Lugnuts a split of the four-game series.