Sunday, June 16, 2024

Lugnuts look for more home wins

April 24, 2001
Lugnuts infielder Luis Montanez slides back to first base during a recent game at Oldsmobile Park in Lansing. The Lugnuts won the first game of their eight-game road trip.

LANSING - There doesn’t seem to be any home-field advantage for the Lansing Lugnuts so far this season.

The Midwest League’s last-place Lugnuts (4-11) are now 1-7 at Oldsmobile Park after a four-game sweep at the hands of the Dayton Dragons last week.

“It’s always good to see wins; obviously that’s what everyone strives for,” Lugnuts manager Julio Garcia said. “But when you see guys putting forth the effort and coming close, that’s satisfying also.”

Considering the trouble the Lugnuts are having at home, maybe it’s a good thing they just embarked on an eight-game road trip during the weekend.

The Lugnuts are already 1-0 on their first road trip after an 8-7 extra-inning victory over the Michigan Battle Cats on Saturday. They will resume play with a three-game series at Dayton that starts today, after enjoying their first off-day of the season Monday.

But then Lansing returns to the apparently unfriendly confines of Oldsmobile Park on April 29 to face South Bend.

Garcia’s main task might be keeping the team from getting discouraged after such a rocky start.

“It’s always tough to keep the kids’ heads up when you’re on a slide, but we have a bunch of good guys,” Garcia said. “I think we’re improving and going the way we want to go.”

Home runs from first baseman Blair Barbier and second baseman Blake Blasi helped Lansing overcome three errors and an early 4-0 deficit to the Battle Cats on Saturday.

Blasi blasted his first homer of the year as Lansing took an 8-4 lead with a four-run 12th inning, but the tough-luck Lugnuts looked like they might blow another big lead when Frangil Cordero allowed three runs in the bottom half of the inning.

But Scott Fries relieved and got the final out for his first save of the season.

The win snapped the Lugnuts’ five-game losing streak and improved their road record to 3-4. The second game of the series was rained out Sunday.

Meanwhile, the home front has been terrible for Garcia’s club, as was sadly shown last Thursday.

Lansing was on the verge of pulling off a win in the third game of its series with the Dragons, but the Lugnuts somehow managed to squander a 9-0 second-inning lead in a heartbreaking 10-9 loss.

The next night, they spotted Dayton an early 7-0 lead but managed to rally to 8-5 with two outs and the bases loaded in the ninth inning.

Unfortunately for the 4,009 fans at Oldsmobile Park, cleanup hitter Jason Dubois’ fly ball dropped harmlessly into Dayton right fielder B.J. Hawes’ glove to squelch the rally and end the game.

“Jason’s liable to hit the ball 400 feet at any time,” said Lugnut center fielder Mike Mallory, who had smacked his second home run of the year in the ninth inning to cut the deficit to three runs. “I just wanted him to make contact and see what happens from there.

“It’s hard because our team is better than we’re showing right now. But we have 130-something more games, so we just have to stick to it.”

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