Lansing, Mich. – A four-run sixth inning resulted in the Lansing Lugnuts (Class-A/Tampa Bay Blue Jays) overcoming two deficits to the Bowling Green Hot Rods (Tampa Bay Rays) on Tuesday night. Lansing went on to win 7-4 to even the series at one game for each team, and setup a rubber-match for Wednesday morning.
The game started out well for the Hot Rods who jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the fourth. Johnny Field led off with a double to center field, and quickly came around to score when Armando Araiza followed with a single. Araiza was then erased on a fielder’s choice, and with Granden Goetzman aboard, Ty Young doubled to left field to advanced Goetzman home all the way from first for the 2-0 advantage.
Lansing would level the score in the bottom of the fifth. Justin Atkinson started the rally with a single, and he moved up to second base on Dawel Lugo’s single. Jorge Saez put the Lugnuts on the board with a base-hit to center, and Jason Leblebijian tied it with by reaching on a fielder’s choice to force home Lugo.
After Bowling Green went back in front on a Lansing error in the top of the sixth, the Lugnuts broke through for four runs in the bottom half. Derrick Loveless tripled to right-center field, and scored when Mitch Nay singled through the left side of a drawn-in infield. One out later, Atkinson delivered another single, and Lugo followed with a hit of his own to load the bases. Leblebijian walked to force home Nay, and Dickie Joe Thon gave Lansing breathing room with a two-run single to extend the lead to 6-3.
Loveless started another rally with a single in the seventh. Loveless finished with three hits, and he was sent home in the seventh by Atkinson who compiled four hits on the night. The Hot Rods plated their final run in the eighth, as Alexander Simon stretched his season-high hitting streak to 10 games with a single to right field that drove home Pat Blair.
Chase De Jong started for Lansing but received a no-decision. He allowed just two runs on six hits over five innings. Roberto Espinosa (1-0) picked up the win after pitching the sixth and seventh inning for the Lugnuts.
Ryne Stanek (0-2) was terrific through the first four innings, but he took the loss. Stanek allowed six runs on nine hits as he worked into the sixth inning for Bowling Green.
The Hot Rods will try and win the series and secure a winning road trip on Wednesday morning against the Lugnuts. The Pepsi Pre-Game Show will begin at 9:20 a.m. CT on 1340 WBGN – The Ticket, and first pitch will be hurled at 9:35 a.m. CT. German Marquez (1-2, 3.00) will pitch for his second win when he ascends the mound to start for the Hot Rods. He’ll be opposed by left-hander Alonzo Gonzalez, who will make his first start of the year for Lansing.