The Great Lakes Loons (43-38) can still say it has not lost a series since June, 1 after splitting its recent 4-game series with a 4-1 victory over the West Michigan Whitecaps (Detroit Tigers) in front of 5,214 fans at Dow Diamond tonight.
Great Lakes Manager Jeremy Rodriguez was happy to see Loons starter A.J. Alexy take command of his fastball to set the tone, throwing 46 of his 78 pitches for strikes, while taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning to earn his second win of the 2017 Midwest League season.
“He's definitely been locked in,” Rodriguez said of Alexy. “He's been working his but off and getting after it and helping the team win that's for sure. He was commanding his fastball early, and he was getting ahead, which is huge for him and his breaking ball was looking pretty sharp as well.”
Alexy (2-2, 2.47 ERA) allowed just 2-hits and 1-walk, while striking out 5-batters through 5 scoreless innings tonight.
The Loons would draw first blood in the bottom of the second inning when DH Carlos Rincon led off with a single and moved to second when third baseman Oneil Cruz was walked, then scored on an RBI single from left fielder Mitchell Hansen.
Loons catcher Stevie Berman followed Hansen with an RBI single to drive in Cruz, however, Hansen was thrown out at third on the play as the Loons would have to settle for a 2-0 lead through two innings of play.
Rincon scored again in the sixth when he reached on a walk, stole second (his fifth stolen base of the year) and advanced to third on an overthrow by Whitecaps' catcher Drew Longley, before trottng home on an RBI single from Cruz to give the Loons a 3-0 lead through six.
Recently added relief pitcher Logan Crouse replaced Alexy and shut down the Whitecaps in the sixth, but ran into a little trouble in the seventh when he gave up back to back singles to lead off the inning, as the Caps managed 1-run, but the Loons still led 3-1 midway through the seventh.
Crouse (H1, 3.00 ERA) finished strong, earning his first hold of the season after giving up just the 1-run on 3-hits, while striking out 1-batter through 3-innings of relief.
The Loons would add another run in the bottom half of the eighth when shortstop Brendon Davis led off with a walk and advanced to third on a single by right fielder Cody Thomas, then scored on an infield ground out to Mt. Pleasant, MI native Evan Hill (a former UofM pitcher who was drafted by the Tigers in the 24th round of the 2016 MLB draft) to extend the Loons lead to 4-1 through eight.
Loons closer Christian Stolo (S1) earned his first save of the season after allowing just 1-hit while closing out the ninth inning.
Seven different Loons batters had hits tonight, while Rincon, Cruz, Hansen, and Berman added 1-RBI each respectively. Rincon also had a walk and 2-runs scored.
The Loons will now head out on a 7-day road trip for 3-games against the South Bend Cubs (Chicago Cubs) and another 4-games against the Bowling Green (KY.) Hot Rods (Tampa Bay Rays) before returning to Dow Diamond for a 3-game home series against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Milwaukee Brewers) next Wednesday.