Loons’ Season Ends in Hard-Fought Battle
After an incredibly successful season and a first-half division title, the Great Lakes Loons’ 2022 campaign came to its untimely end Friday night at Dow Diamond in Midland, Mich. The Loons went to Eastlake, Ohio, on Tuesday and won game one of the Midwest League Eastern Division Championship Series over
After an incredibly successful season and a first-half division title, the Great Lakes Loons’ 2022 campaign came to its untimely end Friday night at Dow Diamond in Midland, Mich.
The Loons went to Eastlake, Ohio, on Tuesday and won game one of the Midwest League Eastern Division Championship Series over the Lake County Captains, 7-2. But when the series returned home, it was the Captains that came out victorious.
Despite a lot of fight from the Loons, Lake County held the lead from the first inning to the final out Friday night, taking down Great Lakes, 6-5, in a winner-take-all Game 3 to advance to the Midwest League Championship Series, where they will face the South Bend Cubs.
Lake County (2-1) exploded for three runs in the first inning, taking their largest lead of the series to that point with a 3-0 advantage in the opening frame. After a hit by pitch and a single off of Loons starter Kendall Williams (L, 0-1), Alexfri Planez homered over the left field wall, his first longball of the postseason after 19 in the regular season.
The Loons (1-2) responded in the third frame. Austin Gauthier singled with two outs in the inning, then
The Captains, High-A affiliate of the Cleveland Guardians, padded their lead in the next half-frame. A single and a walk put two men on with one out, and Yordys Valdez scored them both with a double. Lake County had an even bigger lead, 5-1 after the top of the fourth.
Great Lakes, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ High-A partner, had the immediate answer. Damon Keith walked with one out in the fourth inning, then
In the sixth inning, Lake County gave themselves a crucial insurance run. With two outs, Valdez hit his second double of the game before Joe Naranjo hit an RBI single to make it a 6-4 lead.
That run proved crucial because of what the Loons did in the bottom half of the inning. Keith was hit by a pitch with one out, then advanced to third on an errant pickoff throw. He scored on a Ramos RBI groundout to again bring the Loons within a run, 6-5.
After that, Lake County turned to reliever Trey Benton (W, 1-0), who got the final out of the sixth and pitched through the eighth. In his 2 1-3 innings, he allowed just one hit and no walks, punching out a pair and knocking the wind out of the Loons’ sails.
Great Lakes also saw some great relief work from Ryan Sublette, who pitched the same span that Benton did. His scoreless 2 1-3 frames saw three hits and no walks with three strikeouts. In the ninth, the Loons still trailed by a run and sent
The Loons, trailing 6-5, went to the ninth inning with Ramos, Vargas and
Great Lakes fought mightily, nearly overcoming numerous challenges including a 3-0 deficit in the first inning and the fact they were outhit 12-5. Planez nearly outhit the Loons himself, going 4-for-5 from the cleanup spot. On the pitching side, the Loons tossed a very clean game, striking out 12 batters as a staff and walking just one. The bullpen threw the final 5 2-3 innings and allowed just one run.
While the 2022 Loons don’t get the chance to fight for a Midwest League title, this was a dream season that will live on in the hearts of the players, coaches and fans for years to come. Great Lakes broke a single-season record for pitcher strikeouts with 1,398 on the regular season, ranking second in MWL history. Leonard led the league in hits with 131, Ramos paced the circuit with 74 RBIs. The team broke a franchise record for grand slams, smacking eight of them this season. Vargas hit three grand slams, the most by a Loon in a single season in team history. The Loons turned their first triple play at Dow Diamond and saw a player hit for the cycle at their home ballpark for the first time when Alex De Jesus accomplished the feat.
They’ll make more memories starting in April.
The Great Lakes Loons have been a 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.