LANSING, Mich – Lansing relief pitcher Justin Shafer fired six and one-third scoreless innings as the Lugnuts defeated the Dayton Dragons 4-0 on Sunday afternoon. The Dragons were shutout for the first time this season as they lost for just the second time in the last seven games.
Shafer (2-0), a product of the University of Florida, entered the game with two outs in the third inning and finished the contest, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out five to qualify for the win. He pitched out of a second-and-third, two-out jam in the seventh inning but otherwise kept the Dragons from advancing a runner past first base against him.
The Dragons loaded the bases with two outs in the first inning but came away empty, and then had their best chance to score in the second. Jimmy Pickens walked to start the inning, stole second with one out, and advanced to third on an error. But Lansing third baseman Justin Atkinson made a great diving stop of Jose Ortiz’s grounder to hold Pickens at third and throw out Ortiz. Ty Washington struck out to end the threat.
With Lansing leading 3-0 in the seventh, the Dragons had a chance to get within striking distance. Narciso Crook reached on a bunt single to start the inning and went to second on Washington’s one-out single. After Luis Gonzalez flied out to left, the runners advanced to second and third on a passed ball with two out. But Shafer got Dayton’s Aristides Aquino to ground out to third to end the threat.
The Dragons stranded 10 runners in the game including six in scoring position. They were a combined 0 for 8 with men in scoring position.
Lansing scored once in the fourth to take the lead against Dragons starter Mark Armstrong (0-1) and then put together a string of five groundball hits in the fifth leading to two more runs to extend their lead to 3-0. The Lugnuts scored the game’s final run in the eighth. Lansing was led by Ryan McBroom, who went 2 for 4 with a triple, a run scored, and a run batted in.
Armstrong suffered the loss, working five innings and allowing 10 hits and three runs with no walks and six strikeouts. Jeremy Kivel worked an effective two scoreless innings in relief of Armstrong, allowing no hits with a walk and three strikeouts. Conor Krauss pitched one inning, allowing two hits and one run that scored on a wild pitch.
The Dragons finished with five hits, all singles, by five different players.
The Dragons (6-5) close out the series with the Lugnuts (8-3) on Monday afternoon at 12:05 p.m. Tyler Mahle (1-0, 0.77) will start for Dayton against Lansing’s Chase De Jong (0-0, 1.86). The Dragons will head to Bowling Green, Kentucky after the game to begin a three-game series on Tuesday against the Bowling Green Hot Rods. The next home game is Friday, April 24 against the West Michigan Whitecaps.
Notes: The Dragons need a win on Monday to earn their third straight series victory…Dragons pitchers did not issue their first walk of the series until the sixth inning Sunday, ending a string of 14 straight innings without a base on balls…The run by Lansing in the eighth marked just the second time in the last seven games that the Dayton bullpen has been scored upon…Mahle’s 0.77 ERA heading into Monday’s game is tied for fourth best in the league…The Dragons were shutout after establishing season highs on Saturday for most runs (9) and hits (12) in a game.