The Top 10 Games of the 2012 Season
The Lugnuts enjoyed a record-breaking season in 2012, winning a franchise-high 82 games before bowing out in the first round of the postseason. Here were our favorite games of the year:
10. Recipe for success, May 20th.
* read the press release * listen to Perez's homer * Burns's homer *
How did the Lugs win so many games? Early offense and outstanding t pitching, typified by this easy 2-0 victory over the Lake County Captains in a brisk 2 hours, 1 minute. Carlos Perez homered, Andy Burns homered, and pitchers Justin Nicolino, Aaron Sanchez, and Ajay Meyer took over from there, baffling the talented Captains offense.
9. Burns blasts Lugnuts past pesky Whitecaps, April 14th.
* read the press release * listen to Burns's go-ahead homer *
The resilient West Michigan Whitecaps rallied back from three different deficits to tie up the Lugnuts, squaring the score for the third time in the bottom of the 11th inning. Andy Burns was unconcerned, crushing a home run in the 12th to put the Lugs up for good in a 5-4 victory at Fifth Third Ballpark.
8. The rain delay game, July 14th.
* read the press release *
Intermittent showers turned a routine Lugnuts/Cedar Rapids Kernels series opener into a marathon. Lansing's offense awoke early, piling up a 9-1 lead despite a pair of delays. In the ninth inning, at 12:15 a.m., with Lansing one out away from victory, the Kernels' Matt Scioscia knocked an RBI double to left-center... and the skies opened up in a torrent of rain, causing a third rain delay. The Lugs never did get that last out -- the game was eventually called -- but they did pick up a weird 9-4 win near 1 a.m. (The game lasted 2 hours and 38 minutes, while the delays totaled 3 hours, 2 minutes.)
7. Syndergaard stands tall, August 31st.
* read the press release *
Touted 20-year-old Noah Syndergaard reached his Midwest League pinnacle on August 31st in South Bend. The Texan struck out nine Silver Hawks in five virtuoso innings, allowing a first inning bloop single to Tom Belza, and then setting down the final 13 batters he faced. As for the game itself, the Lugs broke a scoreless tie with five runs in the seventh inning, gave up four runs in the eighth, and hung on for a satisfying 5-4 victory.
6. Perez finishes off Lugs' 9th inning rally, May 23rd.
* read the press release * listen to Perez's game-winning double *
The Lugnuts went 10-0 in the first half against the Dayton Dragons thanks to great pitching, great defense, a little luck... and a Carlos Perez walk-off two-run double at Cooley Law School Stadium. Lansing had blown a 5-3 lead in the eighth amid a five-run Dayton rally, but the Lugs struck back for four runs in the bottom of the ninth to capture an exciting 9-8 win.
5. Record-tying and record-setting, August 26th.
* read the press release * listen to Crouse's RBI double *
On the same day, the Lugnuts both tied the franchise record for wins in a season and broke the record for shutouts in a season. Michael Crouse cracked a two-run double and Noah Syndergaard, Brandon Berl and Ian Kadish combined on a five-hit 4-0 shutout of the Fort Wayne TinCaps, giving the Lugs their 78th win and their 16th shutout of the year. Lansing defeated Fort Wayne the next night to break the franchise wins record.
4. Pierre provides fireworks on Independence Day, July 4th.
* read the press release * listen to Pierre's RBI double *
Playing in front of a roaring crowd of 10,512 at Cooley Law School Stadium, Gustavo Pierre stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth. Yimi Garcia threw, Pierre swung, and the ensuing tie-breaking double climaxed a six-run come-from-behind rally in a thrilling 8-4 victory over the Great Lakes Loons.
3. The final day of a dominant first half, June 17th.
* read the press release * listen to Pillar's grand slam * listen to the game-ending double play *
The Lugs were an astounding 47-22 in the first half, the best mark in team history, and it all finished in a 9-2 squashing of the Great Lakes Loons on the last day of the half. Loons starter Jarret Martin walked six batters in just 2 1/3 innings, allowing only one hit -- a Kevin Pillar grand slam. The game finished in fantastic fashion, with Andy Burns and Shane Opitz combining to turn a stellar double play.
2. Kipp Schutz delivers a wild win over South Bend, July 29th.
* read the press release * listen to Schutz's game-winning double *
On a relaxed Sunday afternoon, the South Bend Silver Hawks and Lansing Lugnuts hopped on a roller coaster of a game and rode it all the way to a thrilling finish. A 5-0 South Bend lead evaporated in a five-run Lansing fifth inning rally. The Hawks went up, 7-5; the Lugnuts leapfrogged ahead, 8-7; South Bend responded with three runs for a 10-8 lead; and the game moved to the ninth. With the bases loaded, the Hawks' Jake Barrett struck out Kevin Patterson, whiffed K.C. Hobson... and Kipp Schutz whacked a game-winning three-run double to give the Lugs their craziest win of the season.
1. Kevin Pillar goes 6-for-6, May 12th.
* read the press release * listen to Pillar's record-tying game *
The top spot on this list belongs to the 2012 MWL Most Valuable Player. To the awe and admiration of the crowd and his teammates alike, outfielder Kevin Pillar collected six base hits in six at-bats against the Dayton Dragons on May 12th to tie both the Midwest League and Lansing Lugnuts franchise records for hits in a game. He finished with a flourish, slugging a grand slam in the ninth inning to cap off an enjoyable - and historic - 16-4 Lugs rout.
Honorable Mention: Three for one.
* read the 5/14 release * listen to the triple play *
On May 14th, the Lugnuts turned a triple play in the sixth inning at Dayton on their way to a 4-2 victory. A triple play always deserves a mention.
Honorable Mention: Hernandez's heartbreak.
* read the 6/12 release *
Central Michigan product Jesse Hernandez gave up a run in the bottom of the first inning at Fort Wayne, though he did not allow a hit. The TinCaps stayed hitless through the second and third innings, past the fourth and fifth innings, beyond the sixth and seventh innings, and on into the eighth -- where Travis Whitmore's comebacker slipped to the back of the mound for an infield single. The Lugnuts lost, 1-0, and Hernandez tasted the bitterness of a one-hit complete game loss.
Honorable Mention: Loons gone wild.
* read the 6/24 release *
The Great Lakes Loons led the Lugnuts, 3-2, going to the bottom of fifth inning. At the end of the fifth, the Lugs suddenly held an 11-3 lead... although, honestly, there was nothing sudden about it. With two outs, Loons relievers Jose Dominguez and Juan Rodriguez combined to walk seven straight Lugnuts, the last five with the bases loaded. Lansing drew 10 walks total in the game, nine of those from the two wild relief pitchers. It wasn't pretty, but it sure was surreal.