Coming off yesterday's heroic walk off win in the bottom of the ninth inning, The Great Lakes Loons, facing highly touted former No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken, kept the bats alive, beating the Lake County (OH.) Captains (Cleveland Indians) 7-1 at Dow Diamond tonight.
Aiken (0-3, 5.27 ERA) was drafted by the Houston Astros No. 1 overall in the first round of the 2014 MLB draft out of Cathedral Catholic H.S. in San Diego, CA, however, he chose not to sign and decided to enroll as a post (H.S.) graduate student at IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL for one year; where he was then drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the first round (17 overall) of the 2015 MLB draft.
The Loons managed to get to Aiken early when Luis Paz, Moises Perez, and Brendon Davis loaded the bases with three consecutive singles respectively to start the bottom of the third inning.
Paz tagged up from third and scored on an RBI sac fly from Loons third baseman Oneil Cruz then Carlos Rincon hit into (what had seemed to be) an inning-ending double play, however, a throwing error by Lake County second baseman Alexis Pantoja sailed past his first baseman Emmanuel Tapia, allowing Perez to score for a 2-0 Great Lakes lead after three innings.
Loons starter Dustin May (0-0, 2.93 ERA) a 6-foot-6, 19 year old RHP from Justin, TX who was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the third round of the 2016 MLB draft was brilliant again tonight and has not allowed a run in 13 straight innings.
May, who gave up just 4-hits and a walk while striking out 4-batters through 4 scoreless innings tonight, can see that this Great Lakes team is starting to gel as a single cohesive unit.
“I feel like we're coming together as a team,” May said. “We're putting things together, getting everyone in the right spots and the bats are getting hot right now.”
Loons reliever Vinny Santarsiero (2-0, 2.25 ERA) replaced May and his only blemish was giving up 1-run in the top of the fifth inning which would make it a 2-1 game. Santarsiero would go on to earn the win, allowing just 3-hits and 2-walks while striking out 1-batter through 2.2 innings.
The Loons' hitters went right back to work on Aiken, who nearly escaped another big Great Lakes rally after Perez led off the bottom of the fifth with a double followed by back to back walks to Davis and Cruz respectively to load the bases, but Rincon hit into a rare 5-2-3 double play leaving runners on second and third base with two outs.
That's when former Oklahoma quarterback Cody Thomas (4) decided to take advantage of a strong wind; which was blowing from the left field foul pole towards the right field pole, crushing a 400-foot bomb over left field wall at Dow Diamond for his fourth homer of the season, a 3-run shot to give the Loons a 5-1 lead after five innings.
Thomas had been getting a heavy dose of curve balls from Aiken, so he knew if he waited on just the right one in the zone, he could get it up in the wind and out of the park.
“It was a 1-2 count and he threw me a curve ball,” Thomas said. “In my first at bat, I saw 3 or 4 curve balls and in that at bat I saw a bunch too, so I sorta figured he would come with it. I had swung at a curve ball in the dirt on the pitch before that one, so I was looking for it and he finally gave me one that was in the zone and I put a good swing on it.”
Sunday's hero, Paz, whose walk off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning broke a tie for a 5-4 Loons win yesterday, continued where he had left off, going 3 for 4 for the second consecutive day.
After Gage Green reached on a walk in the bottom of the sixth inning, Paz ripped a double to left field, advancing Green to third base before scoring on an infield grounder to give the Loons a 6-1 lead.
The Loons would make it 7-1 in the bottom of the eighth when Mitchell Hansen scored on a Perez sac fly RBI after Paz had loaded the bases with a single.
Paz paced the Loons offense followed by Perez who was 2 for 3 with 2-RBI's and 1-run scored, while Thomas was 1 for 3 with 3-RBI's.
Austin French (0-0, 0.00 ERA) a 23 year old lefty reliever from Orange, CT who was drafted by the Dodgers in the twenty-seventh round of the 2016 MLB draft out of Brown University closed out the game allowing just 1-hit and 2-walks while striking out 4-batters through the final 2.1 innings in his Great Lakes Loons debut.
The Loons will look to make it three wins in a row tomorrow when they take on the Captains in the second game of a 3-game series at 6:05 pm before wrapping up the series at 6:05 pm Wed night at Dow Diamond.