LANSING, Mich. – Mark Sobolewski's home run tied the score in the bottom of the ninth and Eric Eiland's RBI single in the tenth inning completed a thrilling Lansing Lugnuts (26-16) 5-4 victory over the Great Lakes Loons (27-16) on Sunday afternoon at Cooley Law School Stadium.
The win brought the third place Lugnuts within three games of first place Lake County in the Eastern Division race. 28 games remain in the first half.
Trailing 4-0 in the sixth inning, Brad McElroy's solo home run against Great Lakes starter Josh Wall snapped a streak of 24 consecutive scoreless innings for Lansing's offense.
Though the Lugnuts trimmed the deficit to a run in the eighth inning on an A.J. Jimenez RBI single and an Eiland sacrifice fly, the situation looked dire after Oliver Dominguez was caught stealing and Ryan Schimpf struck out swinging to open the ninth.
But Sobolewski came through, taking Loons relief ace Steve Smith long to square the score at 4-4. It was the first gopher ball served up all year by Smith, who entered the game with a 0.87 ERA.
In the tenth, Balbino Fuenmayor drilled a one-out double against Great Lakes' fireballing closer Luis Vasquez (1-1). Fuenmayor was replaced by pinch-runner Chris Hopkins, who came racing for the plate on Eiland's sharp line drive to left-center.
Dustin Antolin (2-2) earned the victory for Lansing with a scoreless top of the tenth inning.
Both Sobolewski and McElroy collected three hits and scored two runs in the winning cause for the Lugnuts.
Nuts right-hander Dave Sever allowed one run on six hits in five innings in his first start since April 20th. Matt Wright allowed three runs (two earned) in an inning of relief, with Scott Gracey pitching shutout ball from the seventh through the ninth innings.
The Lugnuts and Loons play the finale in their four-game series on Monday night at 7:05, pitting Lansing left-hander Evan Crawford (3-1, 2.75) against Great Lakes right-hander Brett Wallach (3-0, 2.81).