The Great Lakes Loons (56-35) remain undefeated while playing under 'the Great Lakes Camels' moniker as the team has now won 7 of the last 8 games following a 6-5 victory over the Clinton (IA.) Lumberkings (Miami Marlins) at Dow Diamond in Midland, MI tonight.
Great Lakes second baseman Leonel Valera was 3 for 4 with 2-runs scored, while left fielder Chris Roller was 2 for 4 with 3-RBI's to pace the Camels' offense.
"We're a resilient group," Roller said. "We put some good at bats together when we needed to and that's what we did tonight."
The Loons jumped out to an early lead when Valera led off with a single then scored on an RBI double off the bat of Roller for a 1-0 lead, while some nifty base-running advanced Roller to third base after Loons shortstop Jacob Amaya grounded out to third base, which led to another run when Roller easily scored on a wild pitch to give his team a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.
Restricted on a limited pitch-count in a piggy-back start, Loons starter Jack Little (0.00 ERA) was impressive, striking out 4-batters through 3-perfect innings, before handing the ball to fellow piggy-back starter Jose Chacin who replaced Little to start the fourth, quickly hitting a rough patch when Clinton shortstop Christopher Torres ripped a lead-off triple then scored on a double by left fielder Peyton Burdick to cut the Great Lakes lead to 2-1, while Burdick scored when Clinton catcher Will Banfield reached then advanced to second on an overthrow to first base, knotting the game at 2-runs apiece with nobody out.
Chacin's troubles continued when he appeared to have lost track of the number of outs, inadvertently tossing the ball into the Loons dugout with only two outs, allowing Banfield to easily score for a 3-2 Lumberkings lead midway through the fourth.
The Loons would battle back in the bottom half of the fourth when first baseman Dillon Paulson led off the inning with a walk, advanced to third on a single by center fielder James Outman then scored on a wild pitch by Clinton starter Tanner Andrews to tie the game at 3-runs apiece after four.
Great Lakes third baseman Luke Heyer led off the bottom of the sixth with a triple and scored on a wild pitch for a 4-3 Loons lead, but the Lumberkings answered in the top of the seventh when first baseman Evan Edwards scored to tie the game yet again, this time at 4-runs apiece midway through the seventh.
The Loons broke out with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the seventh when Roller roped a 2-run single to score Dan Robinson and Valera for a 6-4 lead.
Chacin (8-6, 5.14 ERA) settled in to earn his eighth win of the season after giving up 3-earned runs on 7-hits through 5-innings.
Clinton would tack on another run in the top of the ninth to cut the lead to 6-5, but Great Lakes closer Justin Hagenman (SV3, 2.06 ERA) held on for his third save of the season, giving up 1-run on 2-hits with 2-strikeouts to close out the ninth.
"It's fun to be at the back end of the game where it's on you," Hagenman said. "Unfortunately I made it a little closer than it should've been, but just being able to keep the lead and walk off the field with a win, it's pretty fun."
The Loons and Lumberkings will be right back here at Dow Diamond for the second game of this 3-game series at 7:05 pm tomorrow night.