The Midwest League Eastern Division playoff race just got a little tighter around the collar.
While the TinCaps were going down 5-1 to the Lansing Lugnuts at Cooley Law School Stadium in Lansing, Mich., Monday night, Lake County rallied with two runs in the top of the ninth to beat Great Lakes 4-3 at Midland, Mich. Over in Dayton, Ohio, meanwhile, West Michigan spotted the Dragons a one-run lead in the first and then scored four straight to post a 5-3 win.
That means, with seven games remaining in the regular season, the TinCaps (34-29) now trail Lake County by a game for the top spot among qualifying teams in the East, and lead West Michigan by one game in the battle for the second-half wild card spot.
West Michigan comes to Fort Wayne for a three-game set beginning Wednesday.
Monday, the Lugnuts (32-29) jumped on Fort Wayne starter Colin Rea for three runs in the first and added one each in the second and third, then rode starting pitcher Justin Nicolini and their bullpen to the win. Nicolini gave up just three hits and a run in five innings’ work, and Tim Brechbuehler, Aleson Escalante and Ajay Meyer cruised through four innings of two-hit shutout ball to seal it.
The TinCaps scored their only run in the fourth inning, when a throwing error by Lansing shortstop Shane Opitz put leadoff man Yeison Asencio aboard. Kyle Gaedele singled him to second, and Asencio scored on another fielding error, this one by first baseman K.C. Hobson.
Gaedele and Matthew Colantonio each had two hits for the TinCaps, who had just five total.