The Great Lakes Loons (39-57) were victorious in their second game in as many nights with a 2-0 shutout over the Kane County (IL.) Cougars (Arizona Diamondbacks) in front of 4,366 fans at Dow Diamond tonight.
The Loons opened things up in the bottom of the fourth when former Virginia Tech outfielder Saige Jenco -a twenty fourth round pick of the L.A. Dodgers in the 2016 MLB draft- led off with a single up the middle.
Outfielder Luke Raley followed with a broken bat, rbi single to right field that scored the speedy Jenco from first base.
“I had a good at bat,” Raley said. “I went up there with a good approach and worked the count full -knowing I was probably going to get a good pitch- and I got an inside fastball. I really didn't think I got beat that bad -to break my bat- but, I got the job done so I can't complain about that.”
Raley advanced to second on the throw to try and get Jenco at home plate, and moved to third on catcher Will Smith's second hit in as many at bats, eventually scoring on Brendon Davis' rbi sac fly to give the Loons a 2-0 lead they would never relinquish.
The 6-foot-3 220 pound outfielder from Hinckley, OH was drafted by the Dodgers in the seventh round (221 overall) of the 2016 MLB draft after a college baseball career at Lake Erie College, a division II school that competes in the GLIAC along with SVSU and Northwood.
Coming off seven straight losses last week, the Loons have bounced back to win the first 2 games of a 3-game home series against Kane County. Raley knows the importance of getting back into the win column after a seven game losing skid.
“It's very important,” Raley said. “Going on a road trip and dropping games like we did, you know there's no one that's satisfied. We knew we just had to turn something around and get something to click. We had been trying some things, doing some different things, and it feels like it's starting to come together, so hopefully we can keep it rolling.”
Great Lakes starting pitcher Imani Abdullah (2-3, 3.06 ERA) earned the shutout victory in impressive fashion, allowing 5-hits and 2 walks, striking out 4 Kane County batters through five scoreless innings.
“I was just up there trying to compete,” Abdullah said. “I Didn't really have the best stuff today, but I was trying to compete for my team and trying to put zero's on the board.”
Abdullah gave up base hits in each of the first 4 of his 5 total innings, allowing multiple base runners in three of those innings, but ultimately settled down to get himself out of trouble, taking a one-pitch-at-a-time approach.
“All you can control is the next pitch,” Abdullah said. “You hold them on and make sure they're not taking too big of a lead. You focus on the next pitch, lock in on the glove and just try to execute whatever (pitch) the catcher locks down.”
Reliever Shea Spitzbarth (0-1, 3.52 ERA) collected his first hold of the season, allowing just 1 hit while striking out 4-batters through 3-innings of relief work.
Ivan Vieitez (1-1, 2.84 ERA) earned the save (3) giving up 2-hits, while striking out 1 batter to close the ninth inning.
Smith, the Dodgers' 2016 first round draft pick out of the University of Louisville finished 2 for 3 with a walk, while Raley was 1 for 3 with an rbi, a walk, 1 run scored, and 1 stolen base. Jenco went 1 for 3 with a walk and a run to round out the Loons offense.
The Loons will be back at Dow Diamond tomorrow night where they will attempt to sweep the three game series from Kane County in a 7:05 pm game. They will then begin a three game home stand against the Clinton (IA.) Lumber Kings (Seattle Mariners) who are the top team in the Midwest League. That series starts with a 7:05 pm game Saturday evening at Dow Diamond.