The Great Lakes Loons (3-7) got the proverbial monkey off its back, earning the team's first home win of the season with a 7-1 victory over the Dayton Dragons (Cincinnati Reds) at Dow Diamond this afternoon.
Loons first year manager Jeremy Rodriguez could feel a different energy from his team when they arrived at Dow Diamond today and by the time his team took the field he knew his first home win was close.
“It was a great feeling, we were definitely due for it,” Rodriguez said. “To be honest, once we got in the dugout everyone knew that today was the day. We put our mind's to it and brought great energy in batting practice. There was a different feeling today, it was good.”
The Loons jumped out to an early lead when right fielder Carlos Rincon (5) belted his (Midwest League-leading) fifth home run; a 2-run, 455-foot, moon shot over the center field wall that would've gone further had it not hit the apartments across from Dow Diamond.
Rincon's homer scored Zach McKinstry who had led off with a single to start the game, followed by back to back doubles from Mitchell Hansen and Cody Thomas. Thomas' RBI double drove in Hansen for a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.
The Dragons managed to get on the board when Cincinnati Red' first round pick Tyler Stephenson (selected 11th overall in the 2016 MLB draft) ripped a 2-out RBI single to score left fielder Avain Rachal, however, Loons shortstop Oneil Cruz managed to throw out Taylor Trammell as he attempted to score on the play, ending the top of the third inning with a 3-1 Loons lead.
Hot hitting Loons third baseman Brendon Davis extended the Great Lakes lead with a lead off triple to the gap in left center field, scoring on an overthrow to third base to take a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the third inning.
Davis, who is producing consistently for the Loons with the second best batting average in the MWL (.444) and a 1.335 OPS, says it's all about trusting the process and putting in the work to get better every day.
“I'm just seeing the ball well and I'm trusting in the process,” Davis said. “Everyday I get here, I get in the cage and I try to do the same thing and repeat the same moves and just try to let my cage work play in the game.”
McKinstry led off the seventh inning with a walk and Davis reached on a single, followed by Rincon, who drove in McKinstry with an RBI single for a 7-1 Loons lead.
The Loons were led offensively by Davis (3 for 5 with 1-run scored) and Rincon (2 for 4 with 3-RBI including the home run) along with McKinstry (2 for 3 with an RBI, 2-walks, and 3-runs scored) and Hansen (3 for 4 with a triple, double, and 2-runs scored).
Hansen, who started with a double, single, and triple in his first three at bats, found himself just a home run shy of hitting for the elusive cycle. Hansen would not get the cycle, however, he was just as happy getting the first home win for his team and his manager.
“I would be lying if I said I wasn't looking for it,” Hansen said of trying to find the right pitch to complete the cycle. “I wish I could have gotten it done, but maybe next time. It was great to just get a win for our manager, he's been positive with us the whole season, so we were glad to get one for him.”
Great Lakes starter A.J. Alexy (0-0, 1.59 ERA) an 18 year old RHP from Honey Brook, PA who was drafted by the Dodgers in the eleventh round of the 2016 MLB draft had great stuff today, giving up the 1-run on 2-hits while striking out 5-batters through 2.2 innings at Dow Diamond this afternoon.
Loons reliever Willian Soto (2-0, 1.35 ERA) picked up where Alexy left off, allowing just 3-hits and 2-walks while striking out 2-batters through 3.2 innings of relief to earn the win for the Loons.
Lenix Osuna ( 0-1, 4.26 ERA) followed Soto, and allowed just 2-hits with 3-strikeouts through 1.2 innings of middle relief, while Jose Santos (0-2, 12.27 ERA) gave up 1-hit and 1-walk, while striking out 1-batter to close out the ninth inning.
The Loons will have Easter Sunday off, then head to South Bend, IN for a three game road trip against the South Bend Cubs (Chicago Cubs) Mon-Wed before returning home for 7-straight home games against Fort Wayne and Lake County.