The Great Lakes Loons dropped the first game of the second half of the season 4-1 to the Fort Wayne Tincaps in front of 4,012 fans at Dow Diamond Thursday.
Loons starter Matt Shelton (0-0, 1.80 ERA), who is back in Midland on a rehab assignment, had a brilliant performance in his return to Dow Diamond. Despite allowing a solo home run to Tincaps center fielder Michael Gettys in the third inning, Shelton was virtually flawless; allowing just one run, off of four hits, walking one, and striking out one batter through five innings of work.
Thursday marked the third separate season the twenty-six year old Irving, TX native has spent with the Loons. After the Dodgers selected Shelton in the twenty-fourth round of the 2011 MLB draft, he spent 2012 and parts of the 2013 season in Midland. Shelton started out 2014 in advanced Single A (Rancho Cucamonga Quakes) then moved up to Double A (Tulsa Drillers) to finish the year. He began this year in Double A before his promotion to Triple A (Oklahoma City Dodgers) before his injury.
The Loons trailed by one run until the bottom of the ninth inning when Michael Ahmed scored from second base on an Alex Santana single up the middle. After Alex Verdugo led off the inning with a single, Ahmed reached base on a walk. Verdugo was picked off trying to steal third base but Ahmed advanced to second on the play. Santana then singled -scoring Ahmed- and moved to second base on the throw to the plate. Jimmy Allen was not able to get Santana across the plate, sending the game into extra innings.
Fort Wayne scored three unearned runs in the top of the thirteenth inning on a series of crazy plays. With the bases loaded, Fort Wayne right fielder Franmil Reyes flied out to Alex Santana, allowing Ruddy Giron to score. Loons reliever Bubby Rossman (2-1, 2.75 ERA) then struck out Franchy Cordero for (what should have been) the third out of the inning. However, a wild pitch on the play allowed Nick Torres to score and advance Trae Santos to third; ultimately extending the inning. Santos then stole home to round out the Tincaps' scoring.
Rossman was charged with his first loss of the season despite allowing no earned runs (three unearned), off of just one hit, while walking one, and striking out three batters, through two innings of work.
Cristian Gomez (2-for-5) and Brian Wolfe (2-for-4 with a double) were the only Loons players with multiple hits; while Verdugo, Allen (double), Santana, and Justin Chigbogu (double) all had hits as well.
The Loons round out this home stand with games Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at Dow Diamond. They will head to Dayton, OH on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before returning home to host the Detroit Tigers Single A affiliate West Michigan Whitecaps on Thursday and Friday next week.