Loons wrap up 1st half of the season with walk-off win
Posted By Jason Fielder, TV5 Sports Reporter - bio | email
MIDLAND, MI (WNEM) -
The bats weren'tthe story of the game Sunday at Dow Diamond. But, one came up big for the Great Lakes Loons when it counted.
Alex Santana was up with two outs in the 9th inning and had Jesmuel Valentin, running for JosmarCordero, waiting to score on third base. In a full count against Lansing Lugnuts reliever Scott Silverstein, Santana roped a single up the middle between Lugnuts second baseman Jason Leblebijian and shortstop Dawel Lugo to drive in Valentin, giving the Loonsthe 2-1 win to round out the first half of the Midwest League season.
"I knew he was going to come with sliders," Santana said. "Knowing that, I still swung at the firsttwo (sliders). But, I made an adjustment and just tried to go the other way with it. Once (the count) went full, I knew he had to come with a fastball."
It was the second walk-off win for the Loons in 2014, the other coming on April 13 with the Loonswinning 5-4 against the Quad Cities River Bandits as Kyle Farmer drove in Malcolm Holland for the win.
"Credit to (Santana), he made a phenomenal adjustment and was able to work the count full and gettingthat big base hit," Loons manager Bill Haselman said.
Pitching figured to be storyline of the day before Santana's heroics late in the game. Loons starterJordan Hershiser, son of former major league pitcher and current Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Orel Hershiser, threw four innings of two-hit, shutout baseball while striking out five.
"I was just trying to get the fastball over early, get ahead and get into good strikeout counts,"Hershiser said. "I was effectively able to use my curveball and my fastball location with two strikes really worked well for me."
Prior to the beginning of this season, Hershiser had appeared in 36 games in the Dodgers organization,all out of the bullpen. Since joining the Loons this year in late May, he has appeared in six games, three of which have been starts.
"The only thing that has changed for me (since starting games) has been the preparation between starts,"Hershiser said. "When I go out there, whether I'm throwing one inning or five innings, it's still one pitch at a time and concentrating on the glove. That part hasn't changed."
The bullpen continued to be a positive for the Loons with Michael Johnson, Jacob Rhame and VictorAraujo, who earned the win, combining to throw five innings, allowing just one run (unearned) on one hit, with no walks and four strikeouts.
"The bullpen has been good for us for a while now," Haselman said. "When we get into a close gameand we're up or tied, I feel pretty good about the situation we're in because of how good our bullpen has been."
Jeremy Gabryszwski, a second-round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011, started for the Lugnutsand went five innings, allowing one run on four hits, while walking and striking out one. Silverstein (6-3) took the loss for Lansing.
The Loons got things started in the 3rd inning when Spencer Navin was hit by a pitch and while attemptingto steal second, was able to score as Holland doubled down the left field line.
Lansing tied things up in the 6th through Chaz Frank, who reached on a throwing error by Loons thirdbaseman Brandon Trinkwon. With Matt Dean at the plate, Frank broke for third before Loons reliever Jacob Rhame stepped on the rubber. Rhame threw over to Trinkwon, but the throw was too late. Dean followed that up with a sacrifice fly, scoring Frank.
With the win today, the Loons finish the first half of the season 34-36 and fourth in the MidwestLeague Eastern Division, seven games behind first-half champions the West Michigan Whitecaps.
"We wanted to finish the first half strong," Haselman said. "I like the way we're playing right now.They deserve a break and when the guys come back, we'll be ready."
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