MIDLAND, Mich. – The hits just kept coming between the Great Lakes Loons and Lake County Captains at Dow Diamond on Sunday. The Loons just could not get the final one in crunch time as they fell 12-11.
“It's a tough loss,” said Loons manager Luis Matos. “The offense was clicking, we were getting good at-bats and doing a lot of things right. We had some tough stretches in the game, but we just didn't get the job done late.”
Trailing by one run in the bottom of the 9th inning, Spencer Navin walked to start the frame and advanced to third base on a hit-and-run Kelvin Ramos single to right field. However, J.P. Feyereisen held the Loons at bay as he retired Michael Ahmed, Jimmy Allen and Alex Verdugo to not allow Great Lakes another chance at life.
Greg Allen singled to start the game and scored the next play when Claudio Bautista doubled to bring him in for the Captains. The Loons responded in the bottom half of the 1st when Jimmy Allen homered to left field, continuing his hot play at the plate recently. Two batters later Josmar Cordero played long ball propelling a pitch 402 feet for his third home run of the season to give the Loons a 2-1 lead.
“I was relaxed and really focused as I was looking for my pitches and staying through the middle,” said Cordero, who went 4-for-5 in the game, through translator Kelvin Ramos. “It's hard when you score all those runs and give up just as many when you go on defense. We're a team and nobody's perfect. We just need to continue to work hard.”
The seesaw affair continued in the 2nd inning as Lake County added two runs to their tally off Great Lakes starter Roberth Fernandez when Martin Cervenka and Grant Fink each came around to score on a single from Bautista. Beefing his season average up to .293, Bautista went 4-for-6 on the day with two runs scored and three driven in.
Fernandez lasted two innings for the Loons allowing three runs, all earned, on four hits and striking out two batters. He also walked four. Yeuri Gonzalez (1-2) took the loss allowing nine runs on nine hits in 2 2/3 innings of relief.
“They were leaving everything up,” Matos said. “It's tough when you give up that many runs. You don't see that kind of outing very often. It's a tough loss because I felt like we were going to win a few more in a row if we could've got this game.”
The Loons jumped out to a 6-3 lead in the 3rd inning when Alex Santana drove in Jimmy Allen with a single and Jacob Scavuzzo doubled to score Verdugo and Santana.
But, that didn't deter the Captains (23-21) as they responded with six runs of their own in the top of the 4th. Lake County batted around in the inning sending 10 batters to plate and roping five hits.
Great Lakes would pull within a single run in the bottom of the 4th inning making it 9-8 when Ahmed and Allen each scored after singling themselves.
Jimmy Allen has been a mainstay for the Loons in the No. 2 spot in the batting order over the last four games, and for good reason. He's 10-for-20 during that stretch with two home runs and seven runs scored.
The scoring would come to an end for the Captains in the 6th, but it would be all they would need as three runs came across courtesy of a Bobby Bradley groundout and a Dorssys Paulino two-run double pushing their lead to 12-8.
Johan Mieses would add a solo home run in the 6th for Great Lakes and Ramos scored after doubling on a passed ball and throwing error in the 7th. However, the four-game winning streak for the Loons (20-21) would come to an end on a day which the franchise record for combined hits in a game was nearly set, falling two short.
Justus Sheffield started for Lake County and pitched four innings, allowing eight runs (five earned) on 11 hits. Dave Speer (2-1) picked up the win after pitching two innings of two-run, five-hit relief. Justin Garcia (2) earned a hold and Feyereisen recorded his Midwest League-leading 10th save.
Great Lakes will go for the series win tomorrow on Memorial Day at Dow Diamond with Grant Holmes getting the start. The 19-year-old is 3-0 with a 3.03 ERA in eight starts for the Loons this season. He's struck out 49 batters in 38 2/3 innings pitched. The Captains will counter with left-hander Thomas Pannone (3-1, 4.59).
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