Darkness falls, and so do the Lugnuts

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COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. – In an eighth inning that lasted 82 minutes and included two separate delays due to light-tower failures, the Lansing Lugnuts (15-16, 47-53) grabbed a two-run lead and then watched the West Michigan Whitecaps (13-18, 34-66) rally for three runs to seize a come-from-behind 4-3 victory on Wednesday night at Fifth Third Ballpark.

With the score tied at 1-1 in the top of the eighth, one out, Otto Lopez at second base and Ryan Gold at home plate, two of the ballpark light towers went dark. 22 minutes later, power was restored. Gold struck out against reliever Sandel De La Cruz (Win, 2-3), but Jake Brodt walked and Rafael Lantigua grounded an RBI double up the third-base line for a 2-1 Lugnuts lead. A wild pitch later, and Brodt raced home to put the Nuts up, 3-1.

But in the bottom of the eighth, a Parker Meadows RBI double off Sean Rackoski (Loss, 2-2) brought the Whitecaps within 3-2. A wild pitch moved Meadows to third base. Rackoski struck out Nick Quintana, and then Andre Lipcius sent a ground ball to third baseman Johnny Aiello, who threw high to the plate as Meadows scored the tying run. Ulrich Bojarski reached on a throwing error by shortstop Otto Lopez, with Lipcius holding at second. Rackoski wild-pitched the runners to second and third before striking out Rey Rivera for the second out.

The Lugnuts turned to closer Cre Finfrock, who walked Cooper Johnson to load the bases. With Jack Kenley at the plate, Hagen Danner was called for catcher’s interference – the Nuts’ third error of the inning – bringing in Lipcius with the tie-breaking run.

And then the lights went out again.

Once power was restored, in another delay lasting upwards of 20 minutes, Finfrock struck out Daniel Reyes to end the eighth.

Zack Hess then set the Lugnuts down in order in the ninth for his third save.

In the loss, Nuts starter Juan De Paula allowed one unearned run in 5 2/3 innings and third baseman Aiello went 3-for-4 with two singles and a double to extend his on-base streak to 22 games.

Lansing starts right-hander Fitz Stadler (5.53 ERA) in the middle affair of the three-game series, opposing West Michigan right-hander Robbie Welhaf (2.63 ERA) at 7:05 p.m. Thursday.

The Nuts’ next home game is on Saturday, July 27, Oregon Trail Night with a Daniel Norris Bobblehead Giveaway! To live the Lug Life and purchase tickets, visit lansinglugnuts.com, call (517) 485-4500 or come to the Cooley Law School Stadium box office at 505 E. Michigan Ave. in downtown Lansing.