MIDLAND, Mich. – Despite taking a no-hit bid into the 7th inning on Wednesday, the Great Lakes Loons faltered late and dropped the third game of their series 2-1 to the Fort Wayne TinCaps at Dow Diamond. It was a solo home run from Carlos Belen in the top of the 9th that spoiled a terrific night for the Loons pitching staff.
Even with the loss, the Loons still occupy the final Midwest League Eastern Division playoff spot with the Lansing Lugnuts also dropping their mid-week contest to the Dayton Dragons. The race remains as it did entering the night with the Loons holding a ½ game lead on Lansing and a 2 ½ game lead on the Lake County Captains.
It was the second consecutive start at home that Caleb Ferguson has dazzled in. Coming off six shutout innings against Lake County back on August 14, the lefty did not allow a hit and only walked one batter through five innings against the TinCaps. He did it using just 59 pitches.
“I just wasn’t trying to strike everybody out,” Ferguson said on ESPN 100.9-FM after the game. “I was leaving the ball around the strike zone and letting guys swing. I got a couple ground balls, couple fly balls, I was just trying to let the defense work behind me.”
Great Lakes got on the board right out of the gate in the bottom of the 1st inning when Saige Jenco started the frame with a double that hugged the left field line. Two batters later it was Omar Estevez who drove him in and got the Loons out to a 1-0 lead. However, that would be the only run for the home team all night.
After Ferguson exited the game, it was another left-hander Luis De Paula (BS, 2) who was called upon to take care of the no-hitter. After working through the 6th without issue, he retired the first two batters of the 7th inning. But a walk to Tyler Selesky and a single surrendered to Belen not only lost the no-hitter, but suddenly put the Loons in a precarious spot. An error by Great Lakes second baseman Zach McKinstry two batters later allowed Selesky to score and the game was tied.
It was then in the 9th inning when Belen launched his 11th home run of the season off Ivan Vieitez (L, 2-4) to propel Fort Wayne in front for the first time in the game.
Both teams combined for just nine hits on the evening, with Belen being the only player to have a multi-hit night. The Loons’ struggles at the plated stemmed from a strong outing of relief by Austin Smith (W, 4-6), who struck out four of the final six Great Lakes hitters to close out the game.
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