The Great Lakes Loons (22-27) 'rolled' to its fifth straight win when Great Lakes CF Chris Roller drove in RF Romer Cuadrado with a 1-out walk-off RBI-single in the bottom of the ninth to give the Loons a 1-0 victory in a low-scoring pitchers duel against the Dayton Dragons in front of 3,564 at Dow Diamond this afternoon.
Cuadrado had led off the bottom of the ninth with a single and was moved to third on another single by Loons LF Josh McLain, before Roller stepped up and laced a 1-out single to left field, driving in Cuadrado for the walk-off win.
“I was just looking for something straight and over the plate, to be honest with you,” Roller said about his approach. “But, when he threw it, I was thinking there's only one out, I'm just going to try and get something in the air to try and do something to help the team out, because without those guys getting on base, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to do what I did, so all credit goes to those guys and to our pitchers.”
With today's win, the Loons remain just a half game back of the final second half eastern division wild card spot in the 2018 Midwest League playoff race, behind the Fort Wayne Tincaps (22-26) who maintained a half-game advantage with a victory over the West Michigan Whitecaps this afternoon.
“I think we just need to focus on one game at a time,” continued Roller. “We just need to focus on tomorrow, we took care of business today, just focus on one game at a time, one pitch at a time.”
Loons starter Gerardo Carrillo (2.03 ERA) was virtually untouchable, allowing just 1-hit and 3-walks, while striking out 2-batters through 6-scoreless innings today, while his counterpart, Dayton starter, Packy Naughton was equally impressive, allowing just 3-hits and 1-walk, while striking out 7-batters through 5-innings for the Dragons this afternoon.
Dayton reliever Miguel Aguilar replaced Naughton to start the sixth, and the Loons instantly loaded the bases when DH Deacon Liput reached on an error, followed by consecutive walks to shortstop Jacob Amaya and second baseman Devin Mann, but the Dayton right-hander from Acoponeta Nayarit, Mexico forced the Loons to hit into a 5-2-3 double play then struck out the next batter to preserve the 0-0 tie.
Prior to Roller's walk-off hit (and including Cuadrado's lead off single) in the ninth, the Loons had gotten the lead-off runner on base in every inning from the fourth inning on, however, the Loons hit into a double play to end the fourth, then would go on to strand two runners (first and second) in the fifth, three runners (bases loaded) in the sixth, two runners (at second and third) in the seventh, while also stranding another runner (at second) in the eighth, making it four straight innings (eight left on base) with runners in scoring position and no runs, but would get the most improtant run across when it counted.
Loons reliever Mark Washington replaced Carrillo to start the seventh, allowing 2-hits and 1-walk, with 1-strikeout through 2-innings of relief, before closer Austin Drury (2-0) picked up his second win of the season after closing out the ninth with a clean inning.
Cuadrado continues his torrid pace from the dish, finishing 3 for 4 with 2-doubles, while scoring the games only run to lead the Loons' offensive attack today.
The Loons and Dragons will return to Dow Diamond for game-3 of this 4-game series at 7:05 pm tomorrow night.
Loons players mob Chris Roller after his walk off hit in the bottom of the ninth against the Dayton Dragons: