MIDLAND, Mich. – After starting the season 0-10 against the West Michigan Whitecaps, the Great Lakes Loons earned a 3-2 victory on Tuesday at Dow Diamond behind the bat of Marcus Chiu and arm of Max Gamboa.
Chiu, who came into the game with all seven of his home runs on the road, cranked a two-run shot in the bottom of the fifth inning to give the Loons a 3-2 lead, which eventually proved to be the game-winning run.
The Loons (23-40) started Leo Crawford and replaced him with Gamboa, who pitched the final 5.0 innings in relief. Crawford allowed two runs on six hits with three strikeouts in 4.0 innings before being pulled.
Jose Azocar hit his third double of the season for the Whitecaps (32-33) in the top of the first inning to score Garrett McCain for a 1-0 lead. Then, Colby Bortles’ 15th double pushed in Azocar to double the margin.
Great Lakes trimmed its deficit to one-run on an RBI-double from Moises Perez, his ninth of the 2018 campaign. The hit to right field scored designated hitter Darrell Miller Jr., who was making his career debut in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. Miller was acquired in a trade from the Kansas City Royals on March 30.
After Crawford left the game, Chiu launched his fifth-inning homer off starter Elvin Rodriguez to left center field, giving the Loons a 3-2 edge over the Whitecaps.
Gamboa opened the season as a starter and was moved to the bullpen following a rocky stretch. Now, he owns a 5.26 ERA and picked up his second win of the season. The 22-year-old pitched 5.0 scoreless innings and allowed just two hits. He struck out five West Michigan hitters.
For the Whitecaps, Rodriguez (L, 4-3) went 6.0 innings allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits and one walk with five strikeouts. He was replaced by Johan Belisario, who tossed the final 2.0 innings of the game.
In the top of the ninth, Gamboa (W, 2-4) sent down Azocar, Bortles and Jordan Pearce in order to end the game, securing a one-run victory for Great Lakes to start the three-game series.
Great Lakes only managed five hits, one from Chiu, Jared Walker, Carlos Rincon, Garrett Hope and Perez, but earned the win. The Whitecaps logged eight hits, including a multi-hit game from Azocar and Alexis Garcia.
The Loons and Whitecaps return to Dow Diamond for game two of the series at 7:05 p.m. on Wednesday. Great Lakes has just five games left until the Midwest League All-Star Break. The All-Star Game festivities begin at 3 p.m. on June 19 from Cooley Law School Stadium in Lansing, Mich.
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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