MIDLAND, Mich. – The Great Lakes Loons (12-25) got two monster home runs off the bat of outfielder Starling Heredia, but it was not enough as the Bowling Green Hot Rods escaped with a 5-4 victory in the four-game series finale.
The Hot Rods (24-15) wasted no time finding the scoreboard against Great Lakes starter Max Gamboa, who allowed an RBI groundout to Ronaldo Hernandez before throwing over 30 pitches, which forced the Loons to replace him with Marshall Kasowski. On Kasowski’s pitch to strikeout Devin Davis, his throw went wild, bringing in Vidal Brujan for a 2-0 Bowling Green lead.
Gamboa avoided his fourth loss but now owns an 8.44 ERA on the season. In his last outing against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers on May 11, the right-hander allowed five runs on eight hits in 4.0 innings.
With Kasowski still on the mound in the second inning, Emilio Gustave reached on a throwing error by Moises Perez, scoring Adrian Rondon. Brujan followed with an RBI groundout for a 4-0 edge against the Loons.
Bowling Green starting pitcher Alex Valverde was in cruise control until the fourth inning, when he matched up against Heredia with runners on second and third. Heredia, going 0-for-4 on Wednesday, smashed a three-run homer to left field to cut the Loons deficit to 4-3.
Valverde finished the inning and was replaced by Jose Disla. The 21-year-old starter went 4.0 innings and allowed three runs on two hits and three walks with seven strikeouts.
Drafted in the ninth round of the 2017 MLB Draft, right-hander Connor Strain made his Dodgers organizational debut for the Loons. He allowed one hit and struck out two in the third and fourth inning. Dan Jagiello replaced him and tossed 3.0 scoreless innings.
Down by one-run and facing Tyler Zombro, Heredia hit his second home run of the night to tie the game, 4-4. After the Hot Rods regained the lead on a sacrifice fly from Rondon, Zombro (W, 5-0) returned for the ninth inning and secured the victory.
Loons reliever Devin Hemmerich (L, 1-3) allowed the winning run and was pulled from the game with two outs in the top of the ninth. Eric Peterson, a position player, replaced Hemmerich and earned a one-pitch out to end the top half.
Heredia finished the game 2-for-4 with four RBI, pushing his batting average to .200 on the season. Marcus Chiu and Perez were the only other Great Lakes players to pick up hits off Bowling Green’s pitching staff.
While the team scored five runs, the Hot Rods only registered two hits from Rondon and Hernandez.
In the four-game series, the Loons took the first two and the Hot Rods responded with two wins of their own. Great Lakes heads to play the Dayton Dragons in a three-game series before taking on the Hot Rods in four more games from Monday to Thursday.
The Loons do not return to Dow Diamond until May 29 for a six-game homestead, starting with three against the South Bend Cubs.
The Great Lakes Loons have been the Single-A partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers since the team’s inception in 2007. Dow Diamond serves as the team’s home and also houses the Michigan Baseball Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity, and ESPN 100.9-FM. For tickets or information about the Loons, call 989-837-BALL or visit Loons.com.
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