Lugnuts bend but don’t crack in no-no
The last time the High-A Lansing Lugnuts, then a Single-A affiliate, threw a no-hitter, they ultimately lost the game. It nearly happened again. Despite combining for seven walks and allowing a run, four Lansing pitchers teamed up for the third no-hitter in franchise history, with the Athletics affiliate hanging on
The last time the High-A Lansing Lugnuts, then a Single-A affiliate, threw a no-hitter, they ultimately lost the game. It nearly happened again.
Despite combining for seven walks and allowing a run, four Lansing pitchers teamed up for the third no-hitter in franchise history, with the Athletics affiliate hanging on for a 2-1 win over South Bend on Sunday.
The team's third no-no followed Jordan Romano and Josh DeGraaf's six-inning feat in a 2-1 loss to Peoria on July 14, 2016 and a three-pitcher, nine-inning effort on April 21, 2003.
Yet, with the score 1-0 from the moment Lansing’s
“All you’re trying to do is win a game,” Lugnuts pitching coach Don Schulze said. “You really don’t pay too much attention to [the no-hitter] until you get to the top of the ninth inning. But it was good that Berrios shut the door 1-2-3, that was pretty sweet.”
In the end, Osvaldo Berrios dominated the final five Cubs batters with three strikeouts and two groundouts.@jgoldstrass delivers the call. pic.twitter.com/6St3dAgIFE— Lansing Lugnuts (@LansingLugnuts) September 5, 2022
Juan’s start contributed to a milestone for the team, but served as another for himself. Four innings tied a career high he hadn't reached since July 21, 2021 after battling injuries that led to his removal from the 40-man roster this May -- less than six months after he had been added to it for the first time.
“The big thing for him is just to stay healthy and get as many innings in as possible,” Schulze said. “Obviously he’s got Major League stuff, that’s why he was on the [40-man] roster to begin with.”
Juan issued a two-out walk in the first but quickly bounced back to strike out No. 10 Cubs prospect Owen Caissie. Juan similarly ended the second and fourth on punchouts, his only trouble coming in the third when he walked two but escaped further damage.
Both Owen and Tomioka were in similar spots coming off injuries. Owen, an undrafted free agent signing out of Auburn in 2021, had been a consistent member of the Lansing rotation after being promoted from Single-A in late June but was eased back in with a relief outing. Tomioka had last pitched on Aug. 19.
All three returnees showed rust, combining for the seven free passes, but ultimately got the job done.
“They made pitches when they needed to,” Schulze said.
As did Berrios, though his outing wasn’t without intrigue. After Tomioka walked the leadoff batter in the eighth, Lansing manager Phil Pohl brought in the 22-year-old Berrios. South Bend’s Jordan Nwogu reached on a fielder’s choice then stole second base. Nwogu later broke toward third base and stopped, but Berrios made a throw that sailed wide of third baseman Sahid Valenzuela and down the left-field line. With the Cubs still staring at a zero in the hit column, they had put a run on the board.
“It was unfortunate. Berrios executed a perfect inside move,” Schulze said. “You had an aggressive runner on second and he did everything right except make the throw.”
The right-hander bore down from there. Berrios fanned Cassie to lead off the ninth and struck out Kevin Made, the No. 17 Cubs prospect, to seal the milestone.
With one series left to play, Sunday’s effort was emblematic of the way in which Lansing’s pitchers have pushed until the very end, according to Schulze, despite the team sitting 23 games out of first place and the staff ranking 11th out of 12 teams in ERA in the Midwest League.
“We’ve bounced back in the second half and played much better,” Schulze said. “All of these guys aren’t just pitching for the day. They’re looking ahead and trying to put themselves in good position for next season. There’s no giving up on this pitching staff. They’re fighting very well.”
Jacob Resnick is a contributor for MiLB.com.