Despite a strong showing from starter Sean Nolin, the Lugnuts were crippled by a three-run Quad Cities eighth inning and eventually went on to drop the first game of the Midwest League Championship Series to the Bandits 4-2 last night.
The Lugnuts got on the board early in the second inning. Marcus Knecht slapped to a double to left before Carlos Perez bunted him over to third, and K.C. Hobson singled to center to give the ‘nuts a 1-0 lead.
The Lugnuts padded their lead the following inning, as Jake Marisnick drew a one-out walk to load the bases for fellow outfielder Michael Crouse. Just like did in the Lugnuts’ walk-off, Eastern Division clinching win on Monday, Crouse drew another bases loaded walk to put Lansing up 2-0.
Sadly, those were the only runs that the Lugnuts were able to muster last night.
For the first half of the game, Sean Nolin was the reason why the Lugnuts looked primed to walk away with the victory. After retiring all three batters in the first inning on ground outs, Nolin switched it up in the second and struck out the side. Then, after erasing a one-out single in the third thanks to an inning-ending double play, Nolin continued to face the minimum by retiring the side in order yet again in the fourth.
Things got really interesting in the fifth, though, when a leadoff single and back-to-back walks loaded the bases with nobody out. With his Lugnuts clinging to a slim 2-0 lead, Nolin stepped up big and struck out the side to keep the Bandits off of the scoreboard.
After Nolin issued a leadoff walk in the sixth, he was relieved by Dustin Antolin, who closed out the inning unscathed. Things didn’t go so well in the seventh for Antolin, who wound up departing with one out and runners on second and third. Daniel Webb retired both batters he faced in the inning, but one was a sacrifice fly so the Lugnuts’ lead was cut to 2-1.
Things started off great for the Lugnuts in the eighth, as the leadoff batter was retired and a relatively routine ball was hit to shortstop Peter Mooney for the second out. Unfortunately Mooney allowed the runner to reach after a throwing error, and that proved costly as the very next Quad Cities hitter, Oscar Taveras, homered to right field to give the Bandits a 3-2 lead. They weren’t done, though, as another single and double made it a 4-2 game heading into the bottom of the eighth.
After three strikeouts in the eighth, the Lugnuts made the game interesting in the bottom of the ninth when, with two outs, Oliver Dominguez singled and Jonathan Jones doubled to give the Lugs an opportunity to tie the game on a single. With the game on the line, it all came down to pinch hitter Markus Brisker, who just got under a pitch and flew out to center to end the game.
1. Nolin (5 IP, 2H, 0 R, 3 BB, 7 K)
2. Jones (2-for-4, 2B, BB, SB)
3. Dominguez (3-for-4, SB, R)
Overall it was a tough loss for the Lugnuts, but here’s to hoping that they can even the series tonight in their final home game of the season.