FORT WAYNE – The TinCaps put men on base but could never deliver a big inning to pull away.
Lansing hung around, tied the game in the eighth inning and eventually won it in the 10th, 4-3, on Saturday at Parkview Field.
Jason Leblebijian’s RBI triple in the 10th off Nick Mutz (0-3) allowed the Lugnuts to avoid a three-game sweep.
The TinCaps (19-29) got everything they wanted from starter Payton Baskette – five scoreless innings – only to see the bullpen break down.
Mutz, the closer, had pitched a scoreless ninth before TinCaps manager Michael Collins tried to get a second inning from him. That didn’t work.
Neither did getting the ball to hard-throwing setup man Tayron Guerrero, who gave up only his second run in seven appearances on an RBI groundout by Seth Conner in the eighth. That erased a 3-2 TinCaps lead.
I think he was up in the zone a little bit, Collins said of Guerrero, who gave up two hits. They weren’t hit terribly hard, but they were up. Even with the velocity they were able to stay on it. From there, they manufactured their run.
Luis Tejada’s RBI single in the fourth appeared for a time as though it would hold up. The outfielder finished the series 8 for 12 with a walk and drove in four runs.
I wasn’t thinking about that because I try to be more comfortable at the plate and recognize my pitch, Tejada said. I don’t try to do too much because sometimes I swing at a bad pitch. That creates problems.
Baskette appeared to set things up well when he worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth. With two outs, he induced a lazy fly ball from Mitch Nay.
Later, with two outs in the seventh, Eric Yardley gave up a go-ahead RBI single to Nay.
The TinCaps, behind for the first time at 2-1, wasted no time rallying in the bottom of the inning on Dustin Peterson’s two-run double.
That was all they’d get, though, as Fort Wayne finished 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven base runners.
The Lugnuts (24-24) got five innings of one-run ball from Brad Allen, and their bullpen was a little sharper than Fort Wayne’s.
Scott Silverstein (5-1) got seven outs, four by strikeout, for the victory.
There was nothing really that stood out drastically, Collins said. Their pitchers threw the ball quite well at times. We had quality at-bats but didn’t quite string them together or get that big blow, if you will. Peterson had the big double. We just didn’t quite get that knockout blow.
Baskette, who walked four and gave up three hits, bounced back from a career-worst outing when he allowed six runs and 11 hits.
I did pretty well bouncing back, the 20-year-old lefty said. Last week, when that happened, I left the ball up in the zone from the first pitch. Today I was only worried about keeping the ball down.
Baskette wrote out scouting reports on each Lansing hitter from the stands on Thursday and Friday.
I wrote out what they hit hard and what they didn’t and used their weaknesses to my advantage, Baskette said.
Tony Rizzotti came on after Baskette left and gave up two runs on three hits in 1 1/3 innings.
The TinCaps now look to a three-game series with Dayton that begins today.
It’ll be another tough series, Collins said. Looking through their lineups, it’s a pretty good, solid approach. We have to play to our strengths and our game.