LANSING, Mich. – The Lansing Lugnuts received five scoreless innings from starter Marcus Walden and scored four runs in the fifth as they went on to defeat the Bowling Green Hot Rods 7-3 on Wednesday night in the opener of a three-game series at Cooley Law School Stadium.
Walden limited the Hot Rods to just two hits in his outing, with four strikeouts and two walks. Although he did not give up a run in his five innings, the right-hander didn’t have his best stuff, frequently missing outside to left-handed hitters with his fastball and operating almost exclusively on the right side of the plate all night.
After stranding a runner on third base in the second inning, Walden ran into some trouble in the third. A fielding error from Lugnuts first baseman K.C. Hobson and a walk put runners on first and second with nobody out, but Walden managed to get a fly out on a ground ball that should have resulted in an inning-ending double play. Hobson dove to stop a hard grounder and threw to get the runner at second, but the throw to first wasn’t in time and the inning was kept alive. Covering first on the play, Walden made a nice scoop on the short throw from Lugnuts second baseman Jon Berti to prevent a run from scoring.
Walden then issued an ill-timed walk to standout Rays prospect Drew Vettleson to load the bases, but induced a grounder to end the inning unscathed. He calmed down after that, however, retiring five consecutive Hot Rod hitters en route to two shutout innings.
After scoring two runs in the third inning, the Lugnuts’ offense broke out in the fifth, capitalizing on Bowling Green’s mistakes. After a single, stolen base, passed ball and two walks quickly loaded the bases, a groundout from Berti scored the first run of the inning before leadoff hitter Kenny Wilson scored on another passed ball to put the Lugnuts up 4-0.
That brought up Carlos Perez, who has been quite aggressive at the plate recently, swinging at first pitches and getting behind in counts during multiple at-bats. In what should have been an inning-ending flyout, Hot Rods left fielder Josh Sale lost the ball in the sky and it dropped for a double, scoring two more runs for the Lugnuts.
Lansing shortstop Andy Burns continued to impress during this homestand, hitting a long double in the sixth inning off the left field wall that was just short of being his fifth home run of the season. He made some great defensive plays as well, including an impressive running throw on a grounder behind the mound.