Loons fall to West Michigan 3-1 in bizarre finish to end the regular season

The team now prepares for their Wednesday playoff opener against Lansing at Dow Diamond...

Posted In: Sports, Great Lakes Loons,   By: Jason Marcoux

08th September, 2015     0

The Great Lakes Loons dropped the final game of the 2015 regular season 3-1 to the West Michigan Whitecaps (Tigers) in a bizarre finish at Dow Diamond Monday afternoon.

With the Labor Day loss, the Loons' record (68-69) has dipped below .500 to finish the 2015 Midwest League season. The team will now focus their attention on the post-season where they'll host the Lansing Lugnuts (Blue Jays) in the first game of a best-of-three series beginning Wednesday at Dow Diamond. Games 2 and 3 are set for Thursday and Friday at Cooley Law School Stadium in downtown Lansing.

The Whitecaps will take on the Fort Wayne Tincaps (Padres) in the other half of the MWL eastern division playoffs. Three of the four teams in the eastern division playoffs will be representing the state of Michigan in the 2015 playoffs. Quad Cities (Astros), Kane County (Diamondbacks), Cedar Rapids (Twins), and Peoria (Cardinals) round out the western division playoff teams.

The Loons drew first blood early Monday afternoon, getting to West Michigan starter Spenser Watkins (3.38 ERA) with three consecutive hits to start the second inning. Left fielder Brian Wolfe led off with a single up the middle. Jimmy Allen's RBI double scored Wolfe from first base, giving the Loons an early 1-0 lead.

Loons starter, 6-foot-10 Nolan Long (0-0, 4.32 ERA) was masterful, allowing just three hits, while striking out two batters through 5-innings of work. Loons relief pitcher J.D. Underwood (2.63 ERA) gave up just one hit and walked one batter as he cruised through the sixth and seventh innings.

Charles 'Bubby' Rossman (3-1, 2.26 ERA) continued to stifle West Michigan batters, allowing just two hits and striking out two batters in the eighth inning. Loons closer Colin Hering came in with a 1-0 lead in the ninth inning.

Hering (3.00 ERA) appeared to be cruising towards an easy Loons win when he forced West Michigan catcher Kade Scivicque to ground out for the first out of the ninth inning. The Whitecaps, however, did not go quietly as Hering would ultimately give up a solo home run to the red-hot Christin Stewart, sending the game into extra innings for the second consecutive night.

The tenth inning is where it all went south for the Loons in a bizarre finish. The Loons brought in Derrick Sylvester to pitch the tenth inning where he gave up a lead off single to David Gonzalez. Victor Padron laid down a bunt and Sylvester seemed to have trouble on the routine throw to first base, as the ball sailed several feet to the right of Loons first baseman Justin Chigbogu, allowing both runners to advance to second and third respectively.

Sylvester looked fine as he struck out Ross Kivet and readied himself to face West Michigan shortstop A.J. Simcox who was 4-for-4 at that point. Sylvester decided to intentionally walk Simcox and on the very first pitch it was evident he was having trouble throwing the ball with a simple, normal throwing motion, much like his errant throw to first base earlier.

Sylvester, with the awkwardness of a Charles Barkley golf swing, threw the next pitch three feet over the head of Loons catcher Garrett Kennedy, allowing Gonzalez to score from third. Padron eventually scored on a sac fly for the third run of the game, and the Loons were unable to make anything happen in the bottom of the tenth.

Loons ace Grant Holmes (6-4, 3.14 ERA) will take the hill Wednesday night for the playoff opener at Dow Diamond.

 

 

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