FORT WAYNE, Mich (WLMI) Jesse Hernandez did not allow a hit until an eighth inning Travis Whitmore infield single, but the Lansing Lugnuts (44-20) lost 1-0 in the opener of a three-game series against the Fort Wayne TinCaps (31-34) at Parkview Field on Tuesday night.
Fort Wayne shortstop Jace Peterson walked against Hernandez (Loss, 4-4) to lead off the first inning, stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly to center field hit by Casey McElroy.
As it turned out, that was the game’s only run – and it nearly gave Fort Wayne a hitless victory.
With the home crowd hushed and tense, Whitmore led off the eighth by smashing a one-hop rocket right back at the Lugnuts’ right-hander. Hernandez slowed the ball down to the back of the mound, but his throw to first was too late.
The Central Michigan product quickly responded, striking out Austin Hedges for his career-best 8th K of the night before inducing an inning-ending double play from Duanel Jones.
Lansing’s offense, meanwhile, managed only three hits against Frank Garces (Win, 2-4) and reliever James Needy (Save, 1), the fifth time they have been shutout in 2012.
Garces worked five shutout innings, allowing just two hits, walked a pair and struck out six.
Needy came out of the bullpen to one-hit the Lugnuts over four shutout innings, striking out five and walking none.
Chris Hawkins had two hits in four at bats and Carlos Perez went 1-for-4 in Lansing’s meager offensive output.
The only no-hitter in Lugnuts history was tossed by Justin Jones, Westin O’Brien and Mark Carter on April 21, 2003, in a 15-0 rout of the Dayton Dragons.
In the middle affair of the series, slated for Wednesday, June 13th at 7:05 p.m., All-Star Adys Portillo (4-3, 1.78) will start for Fort Wayne opposite Lugs’ righty Anthony DeSclafani (4-1, 2.91).