LANSING– Not even a cold early-April night could cool off the bats of the Lansing Lugnuts, but they would need every hit to take their sixth straight game, a 9-6 win over the South Bend Silver Hawks at Oldsmobile Park Wednesday evening.
The game was tied 5-5 in the bottom of the eighth when John Tolisano crushed a two-run homer that sailed over the right field wall, giving the Lugnuts a 7-5 lead. It was Tolisano's first round tripper of the season and his only hit of the night.
Lansing would tack on two insurance runs in the frame. Moises Sierra delivered an RBI single into center field that pushed the lead to 8-5. Kevin Ahrens later drew a bases loaded walk to cap the scoring in the inning at 9-5.
The Lugnuts raced to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Lansing was able to load the bases against Bryan Augenstein with the first three batters of the game. C.J. Ebarb then lifted a sacrifice fly into center field to bring home Raul Barron to make it 1-0. Tolisano's ground out to second base plated Ahrens to push the lead to 2-0, and Manny Rodriguez finished the scoring by delivering an RBI single.
Rodriguez has a hit in each of the last six games and is pacing the Midwest League with 13 RBI.
South Bend would answer back quickly by taking the lead in the second. Clayton Conner led the inning off with a triple and scored on Mike Mee's infield single to cut the lead to 3-1. Then with two men out, Anthony Smith was able to reach base on a Barron throwing error, keeping the inning alive for the Silver Hawks. Aaron Hanke cashed in on the opportunity by tripling off of the right field wall and driving in both runners to tie the game at 3-3. He would come home to score on an Evan Frey single that gave the Hawks a 4-3 lead.
They would add another run in the third inning to take a 5-3 lead before Lansing fought back in the fifth. Barron, who finished the game 4-for-5, doubled to start the inning. Kevin Ahrens's single into center field plated Barron to make it a 5-4 game. Ahrens would then score when Darin Mastroianni delivered an RBI single of his own, knotting the game at 5-5.
The Lugnuts have now scored 56 runs during the win streak, an average of nine per game.
Edgar Estanga (2-0) got the win in relief for Lansing after shutting down the Silver Hawks for three frames. He allowed just one hit and fanned four in the outing.
Ty Davis (0-1) took the loss for South Bend by allowing all four runs to the Lugnuts in the eighth inning.
Lansing (6-1) will attempt to complete a four-game sweep of South Bend (0-7) in the series finale on Thursday night at Oldsmobile Park. Nate Starner (0-0, 0.00) will take the hill for the Lugnuts, while highly touted prospect Jarrod Parker will make his professional debut for the Silver Hawks.
Thursday is also a Labatt Blue Light Thirsty Thursday, with beer and soda on-sale for just $2. First pitch is slated for 6:05 p.m.