After winning the first 2-games of the series and losing in extra innings yesterday, the Great Lakes Loons (22-40) battled back with 3-runs in the eighth to tie the game (6-6) before Loons first baseman Jared Walker (8) ended the game with a walk-off home run with 2-outs in the bottom of the ninth for a 7-6 victory (and 3-1 series win) over the Lake County (OH.) Captains (Cleveland Indians) in front of 2,107 fans and 194 dogs on 'Bark in the Park' night at Dow Diamond tonight.
With the game tied at 6-runs apiece and 2-outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Walker took a 1-0 slider and sent a solo shot, his eighth HR of the year, over the right field wall at Dow Diamond to win the game, proving why he was voted as a starter for the East in the upcoming Midwest League All Star Game on June 19, at Cooley Law School Stadium in Lansing, MI, where he will also compete in the home run derby.
“Honestly, before that (at bat) four guys told me to just go up there and hit a bomb, even my manager told me to hit a bomb, which you never hear from a manager,” Walker said. “I was locked in, I just wanted to let the barrel get out front, to try and hit the ball on the right side, and that's what happened; he hung a slider over the plate and I let it ride.”
Trailing 6-3 in the eighth, the Loons managed to tie the game on a crazy play when DH Mitchell Hansen ripped an infield single deep into the hole (to the right side of second base) with 2-outs and the bases loaded, scoring Carlos Rincon (who had reached on a 1-out single) from third, as Lake County second baseman Tyler Friis froze-up and hesitated to get the easy force at second, then quickly changed his mind, deciding to throw home in an attempt to get Loons LF Romer Cuadrado (walked) who avoided the tag at the plate with a nice hook-slide, as Hansen bolted for second base, causing Lake County catcher Jonathan Laureano to throw from home back to Friis at second, which in turn allowed Loons third baseman Eric Peterson (who had also reached on a walk) to score and tie the game at 6-runs apiece in the bottom of the eighth inning.
The Captains would draw first blood early in the game when Laureano (6) roped his sixth home run of the year, a solo shot over the left field wall at Dow Diamond for a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
Great Lakes answered when CF Brayan Morales led off the bottom half of the inning with a triple, then scored on a single off the bat of Walker, who then scored on an RBI-single by Cuadrado, while Rincon was driven in on a sac fly RBI by Peterson for a 3-1 Loons lead in the bottom half of the first inning.
Lake County closed the gap on the Loons' lead when Captains DH Jose Vicente reached on a 2-out double, then was driven in on an RBI-double by RF Will Benson to cut the Great Lakes lead to 3-2 in the top of the fourth inning.
The Captains evened things up in the sixth when third baseman Nolan Jones scored after CF Todd Isaacs singled on a hard-hit grounder that ricocheted off the outstretched glove of Peterson at third base, as Lake County tied the game at 3-runs apiece in the top of the sixth inning.
Loons reliever Riley Ottesen ran into trouble in the seventh after walking Friis and shortstop Ernie Clement, while hitting Laureano with a pitch to load the bases with 1-out in the seventh, before striking out Jones for the second out of the inning, however, another walk to Vicente would bring in Friis, as Ottesen was chased in favor of reliever Connor Strain, who gave up a 2-RBI single to Benson, scoring Clement and Laureano (both runs charged to Ottesen) for a 6-3 Captains lead in the top of the seventh inning.
Strain (1.29 ERA) allowed 2-hits (1 of which scored 2 runs charged to Ottesen) with 2-strikeouts through 1 1/3 innings, while Ottesen gave up 3-runs on 3-walks, with 2-strikeouts through 2/3 of an inning.
Great Lakes starter Victor Gonzalez (4.91 ERA) had a strong start after giving up 2-earned runs on 5-hits, with 2-strikeouts through 3 2/3 innings, while closer James Carter (2-0, 4.85 ERA) picked up his second win of the season after allowing just a hit with 2-strikeouts to closeout the ninth inning. Loons reliever Austin Hoyt (4.96 ERA) gave up 1-run on 3-hits and 1-walk, with 2-strikeouts through 2 1/3 innings of relief after replacing Gonzalez in the fourth.
The Loons will kick off a 3-game home series (Tue-Thur) against the West Michigan Whitecaps (Detroit Tigers) at 7:05 pm right back here at Dow Diamond tomorrow night.
Jared Walker rounds the bases after heroic walk off HR to win game with 2 outs in bot 9th against Lake County: