A disastrous 8-run fifth inning gave way to a 12-5 Great Lakes Loons (35-33) loss to the Bowling Green (KY.) Hot Rods (Tampa Bay Rays) in front of 4,438 fans at Bowling Green Ballpark in Bowling Green, Kentucky tonight.
Loons starter Chris Matthewson started having trouble in the bottom of the fifth when he walked the first two batters, before giving up an RBI double to shortstop Lucious Fox, which was followed by an RBI single to center fielder Josh Lowe to give up the first four runs of the inning.
Loons reliever Vinny Santarsiero replaced Matthewson and gave up another 4-runs as Bowling Green blew up for a 10-4 lead with the big 8-run fifth inning.
Earlier in the game, the Loons would strike first when third baseman Oneil Cruz and left fielder Carlos Rincon hit back to back 1-out singles, before DH Cody Thomas cleared the bases with a 2-RBI double for a 2-0 lead in the top half of the first inning.
The Hot Rods responded with 1-run in the bottom half of the first inning when DH Nathaniel Lowe drove in Josh Lowe (no relation) with an RBI double to get to within one run 2-1 of the Loons.
The Loons bounced back with another 2-run inning in the top of the second when Cruz ripped a 2-RBI single to score right fielder Darien Tubbs and center fielder Saige Jenco for a 4-1 lead midway through the second inning.
Matthewson (1-1, 3.90) was ultimately charged with his first loss of the season after giving up 6-runs on 4-hits and 3-walks, while striking out 4-batters through 4 1/3 innings, while Santarsiero (2.81 ERA) relented 4-runs on 5-hits while striking out 1-batter through 2/3 of the fifth inning.
The Loons tried to put a dent into the Bowling Green lead after the explosive 8-run inning but could only manage 1-run when shortstop Brendon Davis led off the top of the sixth inning with a double, advanced to third on a single by catcher Keibert Ruiz, before scoring when first baseman Erick Meza hit into a double play to cut the Hot Rods lead to 10-5 in the top of the sixth.
Bowling green added another run when Fox led off the bottom half of the sixth with a triple, then scored on a sac fly RBI by Josh Lowe for an 11-5 lead through six innings of play.
The Hot Rods would go on to add another run in the bottom of the eighth inning when Nathaniel Lowe scored on a Loons fielding error.
Loons reliever Sven Schuller (1.77 ERA) finished out the game, giving up 2-runs (1 of which was earned) on 3-hits, while striking out 3-batters through the final 3-innings.
Seven different Loons batters had a hit tonight with Tubbs leading the way, going 2 for 3 with a run scored, while Cruz was 2 for 4 with 2-RBI and 1-run scored. Thomas finished 1 for 3 with 2-RBI's as Jenco, Rincon, Davis, and Ruiz each added hits tonight as well for the Loons.
Great Lakes, who remain in fifth place in the eastern division of the Midwest League and 5-½ games back of Dayton for one of the two remaining first half playoff spots, making it mathematically impossible to catch the Dragons with only to games left in the first half.
The Loons will wrap up the first half of the MWL season with the final two games of a 3-game road series in Bowling Green against the Hot Rods tomorrow and Sunday, before returning for the 2017 MWL Home Run Derby/All Star Game festivities Mon-Tue Jun 19-20 at Dow Diamond.