Following his teams' seventh blown save of the season, former Oklahoma University quarterback Cody Thomas (7) blasted a heroic walk off home run, his seventh of the season, to give the Great Lakes Loons (21-23) a 5-4 victory over the Dayton Dragons (Cincinnati Reds) in extra innings at Dow Diamond tonight.
Thomas, who chose baseball over football after being drafted by the Dodgers in the thirteenth round of the 2016 MLB draft, had struck out in his first four at bats of the night, so after the Dragons had tied the game at 4-runs apiece in the top of the ninth inning, Thomas decided to take matters into his own hands with 2-outs in the bottom of the tenth inning.
“Obviously, it wasn't my best game up to that point, I think everyone knew that,” Thomas said. “So, at that point, I wanted to do something for the team. I was sitting there out in the outfield thinking, I'm probably going to get one more at bat, so I've got to make it a good one, for the rest of the guys.”
“I think I faced that guy before, when we were at Dayton last time and I knew how they were pitching me, they were throwing me in a little bit, then they'd throw something in the dirt. So, I sort of knew it was coming, he's a fastball/cutter guy and he's always trying to get in on lefties, so I got a good pitch to hit and I put a good swing on it, but it really came down to our guys battling and (Loons starter) A.J. Alexy pitched great for us tonight as well.”
Alexy (0-2, 3.16 ERA) who has had his share of first inning struggles this year, focused on having a strong mental approach early-on tonight, striking out 5 of the first 6 batters he faced.
“I have had some ugly first inning starts,” Alexy admitted. “But it was definitely more of a mental thing today where I told myself that wasn't going to happen today and I went out there and executed.”
Alexy gave up just 1-run on 1-hit and 1-walk, while striking out a season-high 8-batters through 4.2 innings, and was happy for the team victory.
“It's definitely unreal when you go out there and you pitch your butt off and you have your teammates behind you every step of the way” Alexy said. “We went through the extra innings, but our energy was still there, we kept fighting and we came out on top.”
Dayton managed to draw first blood when catcher Tyler Stephenson led off the top of the second inning with a walk, advanced to second base on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI double off the bat of second baseman Brantley Bell for a 1-0 Dragons lead midway through the second.
The Loons answered in the bottom of the third inning when Errol Robinson led off with a double and Saige Jenco followed with a walk, putting runners at first and second for Gavin Lux, who ripped an RBI double to left field, scoring Robinson and advancing Jenco to third base.
After Thomas struck out for the first out of the inning, DH Oneil Cruz ripped a sac fly RBI to right field, scoring Jenco and sending Lux to third before eventually scoring on a Brendon Davis RBI single for a 3-1 lead through three innings.
After replacing Alexy and getting the final out in the fifth inning, reliever Austin French ran into some trouble in the sixth inning after giving up a lead-off double to Dayton right fielder T.J. Friedl, who then scored from second on an RBI single by center fielder Jose Siri.
Siri advanced to third base when a pick-off attempt by French sailed past Loons first baseman Erick Meza. Siri then scored on an infield ground out to tie the game at 3-runs apiece midway through six innings.
French (0-1, 8.10 ERA) would go on to give up 2-runs (1 of which was earned, however, it should be noted that the 1-unearned run was on his own throwing error) through 1.1 innings of middle relief.
Dayton starter Ty Boyles (4.26 ERA) would make it into the seventh inning after giving up 3-runs on 4-hits and 2-walks, while striking out 7-batters through 6.1 innings.
Loons reliever Christian Stolo gave up just two hits, but shut down Dayton in the seventh and eighth innings respectively.
Lux led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a single and advanced to second on a ground out, before scoring on an RBI single off the bat of Davis to take a 4-3 lead into the top of the ninth inning.
Loons late-inning reliever Andre Scrubb (BS,1) had trouble closing out the Dragons in the top of the ninth and was charged with the blown save (his first, the teams seventh of the season) after Dayton loaded the bases and tied the game on a sac fly RBI, forcing extra innings.
Nolan Long (2-1) earned his second win of the season after replacing Scrubb, allowing a hit and a walk, while striking out 1-batter over the final four outs.
The Loons will look to take game two of this four-game series at 7:05 pm at Dow Diamond tomorrow evening.