GRAND CHUTE, Wisc (WLMI) In a possible preview of the 2012 Midwest League Championship Series, the first half Eastern Division champion Lansing Lugnuts (19-11, 66-33) completed a three-game sweep of the first half Western Division champion Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (13-17, 57-42), dealing their hosts a 6-1 defeat on Monday night on Time Warner Cable Field.
Lugnuts middle-reliever-turned-starter Blake McFarland (Win, 5-3) tossed five shutout innings to set the tone, scattering four hits, walking none and striking out three.
In three starts this season, the nondrafted free agent from San Jose has allowed just two runs over 23 2/3 innings.
K.C. Hobson spearheaded the Lansing offense, supplying a solo home run in the sixth inning against Wisconsin starter Jacob Barnes (Loss, 3-3) and an RBI double in the eighth off debuting reliever Eric Semmelhack.
Barnes threw six innings, allowed just three hits, but walked a career-high five and gave up two runs.
Leading 3-0 entering the ninth, Gustavo Pierre’s RBI triple capped off a three-run insurance rally to give the Lugs a comfortable margin for the triumph.
A one-out RBI fielder’s choice from Greg Hopkins broke up the shutout bid in the bottom of the ninth, denying Lansing the opportunity at its league-best 14th shutout of the season.
After an off-day on Tuesday, Lansing returns home on a Summer Fun Day, Wednesday, July 25th, opening a six-game homestand at Cooley Law School Stadium. Top prospect Aaron Sanchez (8-2, 1.75) will start for Lansing against Bowling Green Hot Rods left-hander Ryan Carpenter (9-4, 3.42).