Lugs edge Whitecaps, 6-5, for series win

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LANSING, Mich. – Reggie Pruitt tripled, doubled and singled and scored three important runs, and the Lansing Lugnuts (16-21) shaded the West Michigan Whitecaps (16-20), 6-5, in a Grand Slam School Day Tuesday matinee at Cooley Law School Stadium.

The Lugnuts have beaten the Whitecaps in five straight meetings and will go for a second straight sweep of their cross-state rivals in another morning start on Wednesday.

Center fielder Pruitt stole the show immediately, rescuing the Lugnuts from a bases-loaded threat in the top of the first inning with a diving catch, and then leading off the bottom of the first with a triple against Whitecaps starter Gio Arriera (Loss, 2-2). Nick Podkul followed with an RBI double, tying the game at 1-1 and extending his on-base streak to 23 games. Otto Lopez then singled Podkul to third, and both Podkul and Lopez scored on a Ryan Gold two-run single for a 3-1 lead.

After the Whitecaps cut the deficit to 3-2 with a run in the second inning – on an unusual sacrifice fly/double play that ended with Reece Hampton tagged out at third base – Pruitt ignited the Lugnuts again in the bottom of the second, doubling to left field. After a Podkul walk and a pair of stolen bases, Lopez singled home Pruitt to put the Lugnuts up, 4-2. Lopez and Podkul then pulled off a double steal, with Podkul swiping home for a 5-2 lead.

Neither team scored again until the sixth inning, when Pruitt singled to left, stole second base – his league-leading 13th stolen base of the year – and came home on a Gold two-out RBI single for a 6-2 lead.

That insurance run proved valuable.

The Whitecaps rallied for three runs in the seventh inning against Juan De Paula, drawing within one run on a bases-loaded walk to Avery Tuck.

The Lugnuts turned to Sean Rackoski (Save, 2), and the 6-foot-7 Arizonan delivered with 2 2/3 perfect relief, striking out three, to lock down the win.

It was the Nuts’ second strong relief performance of the game, following left-hander Marcus Reyes (Win, 1-1), who pitched three scoreless innings to bridge the gap between starter Josh Hiatt (two innings, four walks, two runs, one earned, one strikeout in a no-decision) and De Paula’s entrance in the sixth.

The Lugnuts’ top four hitters – Pruitt, Podkul, Lopez and Gold – finished the game with nine hits in 16 at-bats, plus six runs scored, five runs batted in, two walks and five stolen bases.

Right-hander Troy Miller (4.82) gets the start on Wednesday at 10:35 a.m. in the series finale, a Dog Days of Summer with dogs welcome to the ballpark! West Michigan counters with left-hander Kacey Murphy (4.81). To live the Lug Life and purchase tickets, visit lansinglugnuts.com or call (517) 485-4500.