The Great Lakes Loons completed the first half of the Midwest League baseball season with an 8-0 loss to the Lansing Lugnuts at Cooley Law School Stadium in the state Capitol Sunday. However, the game was of little importance because the Loons had already claimed one of the two available playoff spots after Lake County dropped a 9-8 decision to Bowling Green Saturday night. Lake County needed to win their final two games in order to make the playoffs instead of the Loons.
With wins over Great Lakes on Saturday and Sunday, Lansing (42-28) claims the top eastern division spot; while the Loons (38-30) finished No. 2 in the eastern division. This is the fourth time in the team's nine year history they have made the playoffs, and just the second time they have qualified at the end of the first-half.
Unlike Major League Baseball, MWL teams will start anew once the first half of the season comes to a close. Following the MWL all star game in Peoria, IL on Tuesday, all MWL teams will clean the slate and start the second half of the season with 0-0 records respectively. A total of 4 teams qualify for the playoffs at the end of the first-half (two from the eastern division and two from the western division) and four more teams will round out the playoffs at the end of the second half of the season.
After clinching their playoff spot Saturday night, the Loons dropped an 8-0 shutout to Lansing in what was a virtual meaningless game. With nothing more than pride on the line, the Lugnuts put up five runs in the first inning, two in the third inning, and a single run in the fourth inning; while the Loons stranded a total of six runners throughout the first three innings Sunday afternoon.
Loons starter Brandon Martinez (1-1, 4.67 ERA) was tagged with his first loss of the season, allowing seven runs off of nine hits through three innings of work. He did strike out one batter. Scott Griggs allowed the other run in his one inning of relief for the Loons. Matt Campbell (1.69 ERA), David Reid-Foley (1.53 ERA), and Kyle Hooper (1.69 ERA) combined to allow no hits and no runs throughout the final four innings for the Loons. Lugnuts starter Conner Greene (7-2, 3.96 ERA) gave up just five hits, and walked two, while striking out six batters on his way to his seventh victory of the season.
Dodger second round draft pick Alex Verdugo continued his six game hitting streak with a 2-for-4 effort, including a double Sunday. The nineteen year old Tuscon, AZ native has hit safely in 14-of-17 games throughout the month of June. Verdugo has seven multiple-hit games during that span. He is batting .338 with a .366 on base percentage, a .500 slugging percentage, for a substantial .866 OPS in June. The Loons center fielder also leads the MWL in outfield assists (13).
The Loons have three players representing the team in the MWL all star game in Peoria, IL this week. Pitchers Grant Holmes and J.D. Underwood; along with infielder Michael Ahmed will all make the trip to Dozer Park for the all star game.
The Loons will be back in action to start the second half of the MWL season when the host the Fort Wayne Tincaps at dow diamond Thursday. The first pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.