The Great Lakes Loons (1-2) earned its first victory of the 2018 MWL season, taking the first game of a double-header with an 11-6 victory over the Lansing Lugnuts (Toronto Blue Jays) at Cooley Law School Stadium in Lansing, MI this afternoon.
After Friday night's home game at Dow Diamond was postponed due to snow, and following a 6-4 loss to the Lugnuts in Lansing yesterday, it was decided that the two teams would makeup Friday night's game with a double-header (playing two 7-inning games) today.
The Loons broke things wide open with a big, 5-run fifth inning, after back-to-back-to-back singles by Romer Cuadrado, Carlos Rincon, and Starling Heredia, whose single drove in Cuadrado for the first run of the inning, before Jared Walker was hit by a pitch to load the bases with nobody out.
Brandon Montgomery moved all the runners up, scoring Rincon with a sac fly RBI, as Ramon Rodriguez scored Heredia with an RBI single, before Brayan Morales ripped a 2-RBI single, scoring Walker and Rodriguez to take an 8-2 lead after 5-1/2 innings.
Lansing shortstop Kevin Smith answered with a 2-RBI single to make it an 8-4 game after 5-innings.
Heredia was hit by a pitch with one out in the top of the sixth, then moved to second on a single by Walker, as both runners advanced one base on a wild pitch, setting the table for Rodriguez, who roped a 2-RBI single, scoring the two runners for a 10-4 lead through 6-1/2 innings.
The Lugnuts would not go quietly, however, as Lansing catcher Ridge Smith crushed a 2-run home run for a 10-6 game after 6-innings.
Loons second baseman Marcus Chiu was hit by a pitch to lead off the top of the seventh, then stole second, as Zach McKinstry and Cuadrado were walked to load the bases for Rincon, who was the third straight walk, which scored Chiu to make it 11-6 midway through the seventh and final inning (double header).
Loons closer Aneurys Zabala (who was very impressive Friday night, retiring all 7-batters he faced with 6-strikeouts and a groundout) looked good again today, retiring 3-batters, with just 1-walk to close out the final inning.
The Loons had taken an early lead on a 2-RBI single by Heredia for a 2-0 lead in the top half of the first inning, but Lansing CF Chavez Young led off the bottom half of the first with a triple, then scored on a wild pitch, cutting the Loons' lead to 2-1 after 1-inning.
Lansing then tied the game at 2-runs apiece when DH Kacy Clemens drove in second baseman Kevin Vicuna with an RBI-single in the bottom of the third, however, the Loons would respond quickly when Morales drove in Montgomery with an RBI-single to jump back up 3-2 in the top of the fourth.
Great Lakes starter Melvin Jimenez (3.86 ERA) gave up 1-earned run on 2-hits and 2-walks, with 3-strikeouts through 2-1/3 innings, before he was replaced by reliever Austin Hamilton (1-0, 0.00 ERA) who earned his first win of the season after giving up 1-hit and 1-walk, with 3-strikeouts through 1-2/3 scoreless innings today.
Rincon, Heredia, Rodriguez, and Morales each had 2-hits apiece respectively for the Loons, while Heredia finished 2 for 4 from the dish with 3-RBI's and 2-runs scored to lead the Great Lakes offense today.
The Loons will look to gain a (2-2) split of the series in the second game of the double-header, which is just now getting under way.
Highlights from Friday night's home opener: