Great Lakes Loons infielder Jimmy Allen thought he was getting a rare day off when his team played the Lansing Lugnuts for the fourth consecutive game (second at Dow Diamond) Thursday evening.
Instead, however, he was entered into the game as an emergency relief pitcher in the top of the fifteenth inning. Allen struck out the first batter he faced, but his confidence was short-lived, as Lansing DH Juan Kelly deposited one of his fastballs over the right field wall, paving the way for a 6-5 win.
There were plenty of opportunities to win, but Lansing seemed to have an answer for every Great Lakes rally. Alex Verdugo ripped a two-out single in the bottom of the eleventh inning, and looked as if he was going to score from first on a Matt Beaty shot to right field. But, Lansing right fielder Chris Carlson made an incredible throw to gun Verdugo at the plate, ending the Loons threat.
The Loons also blew two separate leads throughout the first nine innings. They scored two runs in the bottom of the second only to relinquish those two runs right back in the top of the third. Also, in the seventh inning, a heroic three-run effort was erased when Lansing countered with three runs in the top of the eighth.
They had taken a 5-2 lead when first baseman Matt Beaty ripped an RBI single, scoring Cristian Gomez. Kyle Garlick and Alex Santana followed with back-to-back RBI singles, capping the three-run seventh.
Lansing answered with a mirror-image eighth inning. With runners at first and second, Lugnuts third baseman Alex Maldonado ripped an RBI double to right field. Chris Carlson and D.J. Davis followed with RBI singles to tie the game at five runs apiece.
Earlier, in the bottom half of the second, the Loons had jumped out to a 2-0 lead following a crazy start to the inning. Loons catcher Julian Leon led off by striking out. However, Lansing pitcher Jesus Tinoco's breaking ball zigged -when catcher Michael De La Cruz zagged- sailing all the way to the mesh backstop. Leon was the lead off batter, so there was no runner occupying first base, which allowed him to reach safely with no outs.
Loons left fielder Federico Celli then walked, moving Leon into scoring position. Gomez followed with a shot into the gap in right center field, scoring Leon and moving Celli to third base. Gomez tried to stretch his single and was thrown out at second base resulting in the first out of the inning. Great Lakes number nine hitter, Kelvin Ramos drove in Celli with an RBI single to left field.
Directly after the Loons went ahead, Lansing promptly erased the Loons' early lead with a two-run third inning. Carlson reached on a lead off walk, eventually scoring on a Loons error, and Dawel Lugo's RBI single scored Davis to tie the game.
Jimmy Allen (0-1, 9.00 ERA) was charged with the loss, while Jose Alberto Molina (3-2, 3.38 ERA) was tagged with his fourth blown save of the season after replacing Matt Campbell (2.70 ERA) in the eighth inning. Loons starter Derrick Sylvester (1-3, 5.01 ERA) gave up two runs (one earned), off three hits, two-walks, while striking out three-batters through 3-innings of work.
Beaty led the Loons' offense, going 4-for-6 with an RBI and a run scored. Verdugo was 3-for-6, while Garlick, Santana, Ramos, and Leon were all 2-for-7 respectively.
The Loons will now head to Fort Wayne and Bowling Green for a seven-game road trip before returning to Dow Diamond for a 3-game home stand against Lansing next Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.