The Lansing Lugnuts celebrate on the field after their walkoff win to sweep the Great Lakes Loons in the first round of the Midwest League playoffs.
Lugnuts Win First Round of Playoffs in Walkoff Nailbiter
By Jay Blue
Blue Jays from Away
In one of the most exciting games of the year, the Lugnuts completed the sweep of the Great Lakes Loons, getting a game-winning sacrifice fly from the Midwest League MVP in the bottom of the ninth inning to walk off with a 5-4 victory.
The Lugnuts were in comeback mode all night after starter Justin Shafer gave up two first-inning runs including doubles to Jordan Tarsovich and Jimmy Allen. He buckled down to throw five more scoreless innings, allowing the Lugnuts to tie the game, and eventually take the lead. “[Allen] hit a fastball, I didn’t really locate it very well, so I was just trying to locate better with my fastball, keep it down, try to get them to pound it into the ground, get some quick outs,” Shafer said after the game.
The Lugnuts evened the score with single runs in the second and third innings, getting an RBI single from D.J. Davis driving in Ryan McBroom in the second and an RBI single from Jason Leblebijian driving in Richard Urena in the third.
Colton Turner came into the game in the top of the seventh and continued to pitch well, peppering the strike zone with his fastball and slider. “He just pounded the strike zone. He looked unbelievable throwing out there today,” Shafer said of his teammate.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Lugnuts struck for a go-ahead run, getting singles from D.J. Davis, Justin Atkinson and Danny Jansen before Gunnar Heidt hit a sacrifice fly, bringing in Davis.
Manager Ken Huckaby sent back out for a 1-2-3 eighth but he got into trouble in the ninth, getting two quick outs before Jordan Paroubeck hit a single and Mike Ahmed walked. He was relieved by Dusty Isaacs who gave up a single to center field. D.J. Davis made a throwing error trying to get Ahmed at third base and ended up throwing the ball away, allowing the go-ahead run to score for the Loons. Isaacs struck out Matt Beaty to end the inning and bring the Lugnuts up for their final at bats.
Gunnar Heidt came to the plate with one out and promptly hit a double to left field.
“I was just trying to get a pitch to drive ... I was trying to drive a pitch in the gap and he left a curveball up and I took advantage of it,” Heidt said after the game. Heidt was promptly chased home by another double by Chris Carlson.
After an intentional walk to Richard Urena, Jason Leblebijian worked his way on base with another walk, bringing the Midwest League MVP Ryan McBroom to the plate with the bases loaded and one out. McBroom came through, hitting a long fly ball to left field, scoring Carlson for the win.
The Lugnuts continue their playoff run on Saturday night, playing the West Michigan Whitecaps on the road before returning back to Lansing on Sunday in a best-of-three series.
Player of the Game: Davis
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