The Great Lakes Loons moved another step closer to clinching 1 of the first 2 eastern conference playoff spots for the Midwest League's post season with an exciting 3-2 victory over the Lake County Captains in front of 2,775 fans at Dow Diamond Tuesday.
Per MWL rules the top two teams in each division (2 from the western conference and 2 from the eastern conference) receive automatic spots in the post season come September. The first-half concludes with the 2015 MWL all star game at Dozer Park in Peoria, Illinois in one week. The Loons (36-27) and the Bowling Green Hot Rods (Tampa Bay) are one game behind first place Lansing Lugnuts (Toronto). Fortunately for the Loons, Lansing and Bowling Green will face off in a series this week; while the Loons finish their home stand against Lake County.
The Loons are the keepers of their own playoff destiny as they travel to Lansing for the final series before the all star break. Coach Luis Matos would like to see the bats get going a little more in order to ease the burden on his pitching staff. However, with the hottest MWL baseball team (throughout June) he'll be content with a strong first-half finish from his players this week.
“We've been playing pretty hot lately, I think we have won something like 16 of our last 18 games,” said Matos. “Our hitting has gone down a little bit lately, but with the way our pitching staff has been doing a great job to keep us in games, and with the outcome today (we just tied for second place). So, we just need to keep winning and see what happens at the end (of the first half).”
In his very first game in a Great Lakes uniform nineteen year-old Cristian Gomez -a native of Nizao, Dominican Republic- had a very productive and exciting debut in Midland. Gomez reached on a one-out single after working himself into a 3-1 hitters count. Following a Federico Celli strike out, Gomez scored the winning run when a double by Kelvin Ramos moved him to third base -and ultimately home- on a subsequent throwing error by Lake County shortstop Ordomar Valdez, who over-threw the cutoff at second base.
“I feel happy to finally be here and to be working hard,” said Gomez who was using Ramos as his translator. “I just wanted to keep things going and after two pitches I couldn't find a good pitch, but I was finally able to make good contact on the ball and reach base then score the winning run.”
Loons starter Brandon Martinez (2-0, 2.63 ERA) gave up 1-run off of 3-hits while walking just 3-batters, and striking out 5 through 5-innings of great work Tuesday night. Loons reliever Jose Molina (3-2, 3.51 ERA) blew his third save of the season after allowing the tying run to score. Charles “Bubby” Rossman (2-0, 2.56 ERA) earned the win after pitching two solid innings to finish the night for the Loons.
Gomez and Ramos led the Great Lakes offense going 2-for-3, and 2-for-4 respectively; while Celli was 1-for-4 including a 2-RBI double in the second inning to get the Loons on the board. Jimmy Allen was 1-for-3 with a double, while Alex Verdugo and Michael Ahmed each added singles to round out the Loons hitting.