The Great Lakes Loons continued what they had started yesterday beating the Lansing Lugnuts -for the second time in as many days- 7-2 at Dow Diamond Sunday afternoon.
The Loons (47-45 overall) are looking more like the (38-30) first-half team that clinched a playoff spot earlier in June. They are only (9-15) in the second-half of the season so far, but seem to be back on track for a strong finish. The Loons finished second in the eastern division for the first-half of the season behind the Lugnuts. The two in-state rivals grabbed the first two playoff spots in the midwest league with their 1-2 finish.
Sunday's game was almost a mirror-image of Saturday night where the Loons had beaten Lansing 10-2 at Dow Diamond. The Loons scored early in both games and followed with a big inning later in the game to secure the win. The 4,024 fans in attendance got a glimpse of the Los Angeles Dodgers' future when nineteen year old pitcher Grant Holmes delivered another masterful performance.
Holmes (5-2, 2.75 ERA) proved he was deserving of his MWL all-star selection earlier this year. The 6-foot-1 inch, 215-pound right-hand pitcher was selected by the Dodgers in the first-round (22 overall) of the 2014 MLB draft out of Conway H.S. in Conway, S.C. where he was named the Gatorade South Carolina player of the year in 2014.
Holmes continued his 2015 torrid pace earning his fifth victory allowing just 1-run off 3-hits, walking two, and striking out 6-batters through six innings of work Sunday afternoon. Reliever Scott Griggs (1-1, 4.76 ERA) gave up one run off one hit, walked one, and struck out three batters through two innings. Closer James Campbell (2.00 ERA) gave up two hits to finish out the ninth inning for the Loons.
The Loons jumped out to a quick start scoring two runs in the first inning. Center fielder Alex Verdugo hit a double to drive in Jimmy Allen for the first run of the game. Loons DH Julian Leon then drove in Verdugo for an early 2-0 lead.
The Great Lakes offense broke it wide open in the sixth inning. Leon reached base on a lead off walk and first baseman Justin Chigbogu moved Leon over to third base with a single. Loons third baseman Matt Beaty picked the perfect time for his first home run as a Loon. Beaty drove a three run shot over the right field wall giving the Loons a comfortable 6-1 lead.
The Loons would add single runs in the third and seventh innings respectively. After shortstop Mike Ahmed reached third base on a triple in the seventh inning, Verdugo drove him in with an infield grounder. Earlier in the third inning, Leon drove in Ahmed with an RBI single.
I think it's safe to say that Beaty is getting the message from skipper Luis Matos, who had moved him from the top of the order to the eighth spot in the lineup a couple games ago. He led the Loons offense Sunday going 2-for-4 with 3-RBI, including his 3-run home run in the sixth inning. Leon was 2-for-3 with 2-RBI, a walk, and one run scored. Ahmed was 2-for-4 with a triple and two runs scored. Verdugo was 1-for-4 with 2-RBI and 1-run scored.
The Loons will go for the three-game series-sweep in a rare weekday afternoon game at Dow Diamond which is set to start at 2:05 pm Monday. The team will head out to South Bend for a brief three-game road trip before returning to Dow Diamond for a six game home stretch beginning Friday.