CLINTON, Iowa – The Great Lakes Loons scored six unanswered runs, and Dodgers first-round draft choice Gavin Lux tallied a career-high four hits in a 7-3 win over the Clinton LumberKings Thursday night at Ashford University Field.
The Loons (16-18) have won three straight for the second time this season, and move to 3-1 on their six-game road trip. Clinton (11-20) has lost three straight, and is 2-7 against the Eastern Division.
A five-hit fourth inning produced three runs, and afforded the Loons an early 4-0 advantage on a warm, beautiful spring night in eastern Iowa. Lux batted in a run, his third of the year, and the Loons opened the frame with four straight hits against Clinton right-hander Ljay Newsome (L, 4-2), who rode a four-game win streak into Thursday’s series opener.
Southpaw Devin Smeltzer (W, 2-1) made his seventh start of the season for the Loons, and surrendered one hit through his first five innings. He finished the night with 5.1 innings pitched and two runs, three hits and two walks allowed. The fifth-rounder, who wears number five, struck out a handful.
Clinton mounted a rally in the sixth inning, chasing Smeltzer from the mound with one out in the frame. Right-hander Vinny Santarsiero entered from the bullpen. Although he faced five batters, Santarsiero stranded the bases full of LumberKings and the Loons led 6-2 through six.
All three Loons pitchers (righty Angel German closed out the game), were availed by left-fielder Gage Green, who made a series of pivotal catches that ranged from the dazzling to the bizarre. Three times Green took away extra bases from Clinton with runners aboard and two outs in the inning. In the eighth, he made a sliding attempt on a fly ball down the line on the extended warning track only to see the ball pop out of his mitt and land in the lap of third baseman Oneil Cruz, who completed the out.
The Loons try for their fourth series win in a row on Friday night against Clinton. First pitch is at 7:30 p.m. EDT with coverage beginning at 7 on ESPN 100.9-FM.
The 2016 Midwest League Champions and hosts of the 2017 MWL All-Star Game presented by GoGreat.com have been a Single-A partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers since the team’s inception in 2007. For tickets and more information about the Great Lakes Loons, call 989-837-BALL or visit Loons.com.
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