LANSING, Mich. – Griffin Conine, Ryan Gold and Rafael Lantigua each crushed two-run homers and the Lansing Lugnuts (28-25, 60-62) rolled up the largest margin of victory in franchise history in a 19-1 rout of the Fort Wayne TinCaps (22-31, 55-66) on Friday night at Cooley Law School Stadium.
The Lugnuts came two runs from matching the franchise record for runs in a game, set in a 21-4 victory on May 14, 2004, while setting new season highs in runs, hits (18) and runs in an inning (an eight-run sixth inning that blew the game open).
Every Lugnuts member of the starting lineup collected at least one hit, led by center fielder Tanner Kirwer going 4-for-5 with two singles and two doubles, and scored one run, led by shortstop Lantigua’s four runs. Only third baseman Johnny Aiello, who finished 1-for-3 with two walks and two runs, failed to drive in a run; second baseman LJ Talley picked him up with four RBIs on a sacrifice fly, an RBI single and a two-run double.
The rout was so great that Fort Wayne needed two position players to finish the eighth inning on the mound, with Tyler Benson allowing five runs – including Conine’s league-leading 20th home run of the year – before first baseman Kelvin Alarcon came on to record the final out.
Catcher Gold ignited the offense with his sixth home run of the year, walloped to right field off Fort Wayne starter Cullen Dana (Loss, 2-2), who served up five runs on five hits and a walk in four innings.
Dana was replaced by Jose Quezada, who gave up a Gabriel Moreno RBI fielder’s choice in the fifth inning, putting the Lugnuts up 6-1, before allowing the first five batters to reach in the pivotal sixth, including consecutive run-scoring hits from LJ Talley, Tanner Kirwer and Otto Lopez.
Cody Tyler relieved Quezada and gave up a Yorman Rodriguez RBI single, a Moreno RBI double and a Conine sacrifice fly. He recovered to strike out Johnny Aiello before Lantigua belted his second home run of the year to left, increasing the Lugnuts’ lead to 14-1.
The recipient of the avalanche of run support was Lansing starter Troy Miller (Win, 6-7), pitched around seven hits and two walks in five innings, striking out three, and allowing only a Lee Solomon RBI double in the fourth.
Marcus Reyes and Brody Rodning took it from there, with Reyes striking out three batters in two hitless frames before Rodning pitched the eighth and ninth scorelessly.
Left fielder Lopez went 2-for-5 with a walk, extending his team high hitting streak to 17 games.
The Dayton Dragons arrive in Lansing on Saturday, opening a four-game series at Cooley Law School Stadium on Michigan Baseball Hall of Fame Night / Pure Michigan Night presented by Farm Bureau Insurance with post-game LAFCU Fireworks! Lugnuts right-hander Cobi Johnson (4.39 ERA) starts against Dayton right-hander Eduardo Salazar (4.52). 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.