Former Saginaw Valley State University pitcher Mike Ellenbest completely shut down the Great Lakes Loons (57-62) with a 5-0 shutout victory, pitching for his Lansing Lugnuts (Toronto Blue Jays) over the Loons in front of some former teammates and friends at Dow Diamond tonight.
“It was great, (my) buddies, coaches, and my buddies' parents all came, they texted me before the game and said they'd be there, and I'm just glad I pitched well in front of them,” Ellenbest said. “It was good for them to see that I'm doing well.”
Ellenbest (a 6-foot-4 RHP from Medina, OH who was drafted by the Blue Jays out of SVSU in the 2016 MLB draft) was perfect through three innings after he retired the first 9-Great Lakes batters he faced, while on his way to his seventh victory of the season.
“I had a few days off and I was coming out of the bull pen, so I didn't throw a lot of pitches in my last outing,” Ellenbest said. “So I had extra rest and I just felt confident with all my pitches, I had command on both sides of the plate, I was staying down in the zone and everything just came together, it was good.”
Ellenbest (7-6, 6.37 ERA) allowed just 2-hits and 1-walk, while striking out 5-batters through 5-innings tonight.
The Lugnuts would do the majority of its damage when Ellenbest's counterpart, Loons' starter Melvin Jimenez ran into trouble, giving up 4-runs in the top half of the fifth inning.
Lansing second baseman Mattingly Romanin roped a lead-off double that slammed off the left-center field wall and moved to third on a sac bunt, before scoring the first run of the inning on an RBI-single by Lansing No. 9 hitter Nick Sinay for a 1-0 Lugnuts lead.
Sinay advanced to second on a single by Lansing right fielder Rodrigo Orozco and scored on an RBI-single by center fielder Joshua Polacios, as Jimenez was chased in exchange for Loons reliever Marshall Kasowski.
Kasowski gave up an RBI-single (charged to Jimenez) to first baseman Nash Knight, scoring Orozco, before designated hitter J.B. Woodman's RBI-single drove in Polacios (also charged to Jimenez) for a 4-0 Lansing lead midway through five innings.
Jimenez (1-1, 2.08 ERA) was charged with his first loss of the season after giving up 4-runs on 8-hits, with 3-strikeouts through 4 2/3 innings.
Kasowski seemed to be getting things under control after retiring the first two batters in the top of the sixth, until Sinay beat out a bunt for a single, stole second, then scored when Orozco hit a hard grounder to deep short as Loons shortstop Moises Perez overthrew first (ruled a single with an error on the throw by the Loons official scorer for an unearned run) to give Lansing a 5-0 lead.
Loons reliever Vinny Santarsiero entered the game after Kasowski had given up a 1-out single in the top of the seventh, and managed to force the Lugnuts to ground out into an inning ending 4-6-3 double play.
Kasowski allowed 5-hits (along with the unearned run) with 1-strikeout through 1 2/3 of an inning, while Santarsiero (3.33 ERA) allowed just 1-walk, while striking out 1-batter through 2 2/3 innings.
The Loons, who only managed 4-hits all night, were led by Gavin Lux, who was 2 for 4 from the dish.
Starling Heredia was 1 for 3, while Jeren Kendall finished 1 for 4 to round out the Loons offense.
The Loons will look to get back on track tomorrow night when it hosts Lansing for the second game of this 4-game series here at Dow Diamond.