The Great Lakes Loons finished off where they started in impressive fashion, dominating the Bowling Green Hot Rods (Tampa Bay Rays) 15-1 in the resumption of last night's rain-suspended opener of the 2016 Midwest League eastern division (best-of-three) semi-final series at Dow Diamond today.
The Loons put together an unforgettable day with 20 team hits and every player in the lineup scoring a run, while setting the record for the most runs and the largest margin of victory in franchise history.
Loons outfielder Gage Green was close to accomplishing something only four players in the history of Major League Baseball have ever done, the natural cycle. Green hit a single, double, and triple consecutively before being walked in the bottom of the seventh. He then singled in his last at bat.
Green, Jake Henson, Omar Estevez, and Saige Jenco paced the Loons offensively. Green was 4 for 4 with a walk, an RBI, and three runs scored. Henson was 3 for 5 with 3-doubles and 4 RBI. Estevez was 3 for 5 with an RBI and two runs scored, while Jenco was 3 for 6 with 2 RBI's and one run scored.
Prior to the start of last night's game, all of the pre-game talk was about how great of a hitting team Bowling Green was, but it turned out to be he Loons who came out and filled up the offensive box scores.
Loons skipper Gil Velazquez
was ecstatic to see his team hitting the ball so well. However, he points to the dominance of his pitching staff over the past month as the catalyst of this Great Lakes team.
Velazquez noted, how good pitching can impact the confidence of his team when coming to the plate. Dean Kremer
picked up where Yadier Alvarez left off last night, allowing the Loons' bats to get going, something the pitching staff has been doing a lot of down the stretch.
“Dean has a really good arm, he's been solid for us since he's got here,” Valazquez said. "The guys feel very confident when he's on the mound, so it was big for him to come out and do as well as he did. The guys responding offensively is just a good combination of baseball offensively and defensively. Our pitching has been very solid for us, and I feel that's what has helped us the most during the last stretch of the season because they gave us the chances to win ball games, and our hitters, they don't give up. So, it's a good combination.”
Alvarez gave up 5-hits, striking out 2 batters through 4 scoreless innings last night. Kremer (1-0, 3.00 ERA) earned the win after giving up one run on 3-hits while striking out one batter through 3 innings today.
Hitting is contagious, something Green loves, and something he wants to see more of as they head to Bowling Green where they can end the series and move on with one win.
“It's awesome, especially getting that first win,” Green said. “When you've got guys out there getting hits, after hits, after hits, and it just keeps building and everyone is going good, that's the way we have to play, building off each others energy, and having fun. We have to go to Bowling Green now and hopefully we can do it in one, but if we have to play another game we'll just have to be ready and keep playing hard.”
If the Loons win just one of the games in Bowling Green, they would return to Dow Diamond for game one of the eastern division finals to host the winner of the South Bend Cubs (Chicago Cubs) and the West Michigan Whitecaps (Detroit Tigers) Saturday night.