FORT WAYNE (WLMI) A four-run third inning backed Justin Nicolino’sseason-high seven strikeouts in the Lansing Lugnuts’ (3-1, 50-23) 6-2 series opening victory over the Fort Wayne TinCaps on Monday night at Parkview Field.
Nicolino (Win, 3-0) tossed five innings and allowed just a two-run fourth-inning single to Duanel Jones. The lefty finished after allowing six hits, walking one and striking out a season-high seven.
With the bases loaded in the fourth inning, Kevin Pillar saved a pair of runs by making highlight-reel diving catch on a sinking line drive to left.
The Lugnuts tagged TinCaps starter Matt Wisler (Loss, 2-4) for four runs in the third inning. Carlos Perez (2-for-3, double, two RBI) smacked a two-RBI single and scored when Andy Burns delivered a two-out two-run double. Wisler finished after seven hits over four innings while walking one and striking out four.
Shane Opitz punched an RBI double and K.C. Hobson whacked an RBI single in the seventh inning to add some insurance.
The Lugnuts bullpen tossed four shutout innings. Aleson Escalante threw a pair of scoreless frames. Brandon Berl delivered a scoreless eighth inning and record the first two outs of the ninth before giving up a triple to Kyle Gaedele and walking Jace Peterson.
Closer Ajay Meyer entered the game with two outs and promptly struck out Tyler Stubblefield to earn his league-leading 22nd save.
The second game of the series will begin at 7:05 p.m. on Tuesday, June 26th. All-Star Aaron Sanchez (6-0, 0.77) will start for Lansing opposed by TinCaps’ righty Cody Hebner (6-3, 4.03).
Lansing will return home on Wednesday, July 4th for a 7:05 p.m. game against the Great Lakes Loons. The opener of a three-game homestand will feature LAFCU Fireworks. Tickets are available for purchase online at www.lansinglugnuts.com, at the stadium box office, and by calling 517-485-4500.