The Great Lakes Loons (36-33) returned what it had received the previous night, using a big 7-run seventh inning to cruise to a 9-3 win over the Bowling Green Hot Rods (Tampa Bay Rays) at Bowling Green Ballpark tonight.
Last night, it was the Hot Rods who had the big inning, scoring 8-runs in the fifth for a 12-5 thrashing of the Loons. Tonight, however, the Great Lakes hitters were happy to oblige, as eight of the nine Loons' batters combined for 12-hits.
The Loons opened up that monstrous seventh inning with four straight walks; starting with center fielder Cody Thomas, third baseman Oneil Cruz, and second baseman Brendon Davis who loaded the bases, before catcher Keibert Ruiz walked to score Thomas for a 3-1 lead in the top of the seventh inning, which was followed by a sac fly RBI from DH Mitchell Hansen to drive in Cruz, extending the Loons' lead to 4-1 with just one out.
First baseman Gersel Pitre followed Hansen with an RBI single to drive in Davis, as left fielder Saige Jenco joined the 'single-party' moving Ruiz to third, before right fielder Darien Tubbs drove in Ruiz and Pitre with a 2-RBI single to take a 7-1 lead, still with only one out in the seventh inning.
Thomas, batting for his second time in the inning, finished what he had started with a 2-RBI single to right field, scoring Jenco and Tubbs as the Loons sent a total of 12 batters to the plate in the seventh inning, scoring 7-runs on 5-walks and 4-singles for a 9-1 lead.
Bowling Green's early limited damage would come in the bottom of the second when Hot Rods catcher Jonah Heim roped a 1-out double off of Loons starter Leo Crawford, moving to third on a single by left fielder Jesus Sanchez, before scoring on a sac fly RBI off the bat of third baseman Adrian Rondon to take a 1-0 lead through two innings.
The Loons managed to respond with another run in the top half of the third inning when Pitre led off with a single and moved to second on a Jenco sac bunt, then advanced to third on a Gavin Lux single, before eventually scoring on an RBI single by Thomas as the Loons tied the game at 1-run apiece midway through the third.
Ruiz singled to lead off the top of the fourth inning, while Hansen and Pitre loaded the bases with consecutive walks before Jenco drove in Ruiz on an infield ground-out for a 2-1 lead.
Loons closer Angel German would relent 2-runs in the bottom of the ninth before finishing off the Hot Rods.
German (1.25 ERA) gave up the 2-runs on 1-hit and 1-walk, while striking out 1-batter to close out the eighth and ninth innings.
Pitre finished 3 for 4 with an RBI and 2-runs scored to pace the Loons' offense, while Ruiz was 2 for 4 with an RBI and 2-runs, and Thomas was 2 for 5 with 2-RBI's and 1-run.
Jenco, who currently has an 18-game on-base streak with at least one hit in 17 of his last 18-games while boasting a .386 batting average since May 29, finished 1 for 2 with an RBI, 1-run, and 2-walks tonight. Lux, Tubbs, Cruz, and Hansen added one hit each respectively for the Loons as well.
The Loons, who are mathematically eliminated from earning either of the two first-half playoff spots, will wrap up the 3-game series, along with the first half of the Midwest League season with a 2:05 pm game in Bowling Green tomorrow afternoon before returning for the MWL Home Run Derby/All Star Game Mon-Tue Jun 19-20 at Dow Diamond.