The Great Loons (12-25) tied the game at 4-runs apiece on Starling Heredia's (5) second home run of the game (a 2-out solo shot to right field) in the bottom of the eighth inning, but gave up a run in the ninth to drop the final game of a four game series 5-4 to the Bowling Green (KY.) Hot Rods (Tampa Bay Rays) at a bone-chillingly cold and windy Dow Diamond tonight.
After Heredia's second homer of the night had tied the game at 4-runs apiece in the bottom of the eighth, Loons closer Devin Hemmerich walked Bowling Green catcher Ronaldo Hernandez and LF Moises Gomez to start the ninth, while Hot Rods first baseman Devin Davis moved the two runners over with a sac bunt, before Hernandez was driven in on a sac fly RBI by third baseman Adrian Rondon to give the Hot Rods a 5-4 lead, and eventually the win, in the top of the ninth inning.
Hemmerich (1-3, 3.80 ERA) was tagged with his first loss of the season for the Loons after giving up the game winning run on 3-walks through 1 2/3 innings.
Loons starter Max Gamboa (8.44 ERA) had been chased early after allowing walks to 3 of the first 5-batters he faced, leading to 2-Hot Rods runs for a 2-0 Bowling Green lead in the top of the first inning.
Gamboa was replaced by Great Lakes reliever Marshall Kasowski, who finished out the first inning, but gave up a lead-off double in the second to Rondon, who scored when Bowling Green RF Emilio Gustave reached on an overthrow at first, before Gustave was driven in on an infield ground-out off the bat of second baseman Vidal Brujan for a 4-0 Hot Rods lead in the top of the second inning.
Kasowski (2.70 ERA) finished out the second inning after giving up 1-earned run on 1-hit, with 3-strikeouts through 1 1/3 innings of relief, before he was replaced by reliever Connor Strain (a ninth round pick of the Dodgers in the 2017 MLB draft out of the University of Evansville in Indiana) who would give up a single to the first batter he faced, then combined with Loons reliever Dan Jaggiello and Hemmerich to retire the following 17 batters in row.
Bowling Green starter Alex Valverde (4.73 ERA) hit Loons DH Carlos Rincon, then hit second baseman Marcus Chiu to begin the fourth, before Heredia (4) crushed the first of his two home runs, this one directly into the strong 20-MPH wind blowing straight in from left, sending it directly over the 373-foot mark on the left field wall at Dow Diamond to cut the Hot Rods' lead to 4-3 in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Strain (0.00 ERA) gave up just the one hit, with 1-strikeout through 2-innings, while Jaggiello (2.08 ERA) was perfect, while striking out 3-batters through 3-innings of relief tonight.
Loons reliever Eric Peterson (a non-drafted free agent signed by the Dodgers out of Minnesota State University-Mankato) who came to the Loons as a position player, replaced Hemmerich and got the final out of the ninth inning.
The Loons will head out for a four game series against the Dayton Dragons (Cincinnati Reds) starting with a double header at Fifth Third Field in Dayton, OH tomorrow.
Starling Heredia crosses home plate after hitting the first of his 2 HRs vs Bowling Green tonight: