Trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Great Lakes Loons scored 3-runs to take a 6-4 lead and added another 2-runs in the eighth inning for an 8-4 victory (and a 2-1 lead in the four-game series) over the Peoria Chiefs (St. Louis Cardinals) as the 2016 Midwest League Championship team was honored along with the unveiling of a championship flag and plaque at Dow Diamond tonight.
Loons center fielder Saige Jenco reached base after being hit by a pitch with 1-out, then scored on an RBI double off the bat of former CMU star Zach McKinstry to kickoff a rally in the bottom half of the seventh inning.
Right fielder Carlos Rincon (8) added to that rally by driving in McKinstry with his Midwest League leading eighth home run (an inside the park HR) of the season to give the Loons a 6-4 lead through eight innings.
Loons catcher Keirbert Ruiz reached in the bottom of the eighth after getting hit by a pitch and McKinstry walked to put runners on first and second with two outs, before Brendon Davis drove in both runners with a 2-RBI double for an 8-4 lead through eight innings.
Vinny Santarsiero (3-0, 2.60 ERA) entered the game in the seventh inning and allowed only a hit and a walk with 1-strikeout to earn the win for his third victory of the season.
The Loons had fallen behind 3-0 after four innings before battling back with 1-run in the third and another 2-runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to tie the game at 3-runs apiece through four innings.
Loons first baseman Luis Paz and Davis had walked to reach base with 2-outs in the bottom of the third inning before Rincon drove in Paz with an RBI single to center field to get the Loons on the board but still trailing 3-1 through three innings.
Starter Devin Smeltzer (1-1, 2.96 ERA) was dominant once again for the Loons, giving up 4-runs on 5-hits and 1-walk, while striking out 10 Peoria batters through 4.1 innings tonight.
Reliever Angel German (0-0, 0.00 ERA) replaced Smeltzer and gave up just 2-hits and 2-walks while striking out 4-batters through 2.1 innings of relief.
Great Lakes SS Oneil Cruz reached on a fielding error and left fielder Mitchell Hansen singled to advance Cruz to third base with no out in the bottom of the fourth inning.
With 2-outs and Jenco batting, the 6-foot-6 Cruz (6) stole home for his sixth stolen base of the season, while Hansen stole second to get into scoring position and get the Loons to within one run 3-2 of the Chiefs.
Jenco followed with an RBI single to right field, scoring Hansen and knotting the game at 3-runs each in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Patrick Duester (1-0, 4.91 ERA) struck out 2 of the final three outs to close out the ninth inning for the Loons.
The Loons will complete the four-game series with 2:05 pm game against Peoria tomorrow afternoon before heading out on a six-game road trip against the Kane County (IL.) Cougars (Arizona Diamondbacks) and the Clinton (IA.) Lumber Kings (Seattle Mariners) Mon-Sat next week.