The Great Lakes Loons only allowed 2-hits, but gave up a franchise record 14-walks in a bizarre game that was tied 1-1 heading into the top of the tenth, where the Loons gave up 3-runs on multiple mistakes, dropping a 4-1 extra inning decision to the Fort Wayne Tincaps in front of 3,018 at Dow Diamond tonight.
After narrowly escaping a white-knuckle situation with the bases loaded in the top of the ninth, the Loons nearly ended it when DH Saige Jenco reached on a lead off walk in the bottom of the ninth, then moved to second on a Gavin Lux ground out, before left fielder Starling Heredia hit a laser to right field, prompting the speedy Jenco to round third and take off for home, however, he was gunned down at the plate on a perfect throw by Fort Wayne right fielder Nate Easley.
“I thought the right fielder was playing regular depth,” Loons skipper Jeremy Rodriguez said. “I was kind of trying to gamble, just to see if he could make the throw, and he did, he put it right on the money.
“We didn't have a lot of hits tonight, so I decided to take a chance and gamble, but they played good defense, which was the difference in the game.”
Building on the momentum of Easley's defensive play, Fort Wayne turned the tables when third baseman Hudson Potts got into scoring position after being hit in the helmet by Loons reliever Evy Ruibal, then a passed ball advanced him to second base with nobody out in the tenth.
Easley followed with a sac bunt in an attempt to move Potts over to third, but Loons catcher Connor Wong's throw sailed into left field, allowing Potts to score for a 2-1 Tincaps' lead.
Tincaps center fielder Jack Suwinski then ripped a single to move Easley over to third and left fielder Tyler Seleskey walked to load the bases, before shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. drove in Easley with a sac fly RBI to make it a 3-1 game.
Loons first baseman Nick Yarnall was charged with an error after he misplayed a hard hit grounder, allowing Suwinski to score for a 4-1 lead heading into the bottom of the tenth.
Ruibal (1-1, 6.75 ERA) was charged with his first loss of the season after giving up 1-earned run (2-unearned) on 1-hit and 1-walk, with 2-strikeouts through 1 1/3 innings.
The Loons jumped on Tincaps starter Pedro Avila early when shortstop Gavin Lux beat out an infield single, then scored when center fielder Cody Thomas laced an RBI-double into the left-center field power gap for a 1-0 Great Lakes lead in the bottom of the first inning.
After the 2-hits to Lux and Thomas, Avila would regroup, striking out the side in the first, fourth, sixth, and seventh innings on his way to a masterful performance where he set the franchise record with 17-strikeouts, shattering the previous record (15 set by LaTroy Hawkins in 1993) against the Loons tonight.
Avila (3.28 ERA) surrendered just one more hit, a double to Loons third baseman Jared Walker in the second, before retiring the next 19-batters, including 9-consecutive strikeouts from the end of the fifth to the middle of the eighth, wrapping up a record-setting performance where he gave up 1-run on 3-hits, with a franchise record 17-strikeouts through 8-innings.
Loons starter Marshall Kasowski (a 13th round pick of the Dodgers in the 2017 MLB draft out of West Texas A&M University) had a tough start, but did not surrender a run in his Dow Diamond debut after joining the Loons on Aug. 6, from the Arizona Rookie League Dodgers, however, he would only last one inning after reaching 32-pitches.
Kasowski (ERA) allowed a double and 2-walks, with 1-strikeout in the first inning, before being replaced by reliever Dan Jagiello in the second.
Jagiello ran into a bit of trouble when he walked the first two batters of the third inning and struck out the next batter, then was replaced by Melvin Jimenez, who struck out the first batter he faced, hit a batter to load the bases, then walked in a run (charged to Jagiello) to tie the game at 1-run apiece midway through three.
Jagiello (1.17 ERA) was charged with the 1-run on 2-walks, with 2-strikeouts through 1 1/3 innings, while Jimenez (0.00 ERA) walked-3 and struck out-3 in 2 2/3 innings of relief.
Loons reliever Andre Scrubb (who is normally a late inning reliever or closer) was forced into early action tonight after Kasowski's early exit.
Scrubb (3.23 ERA) allowed just 2-walks and hit 1-batter, with 2-strikeouts through 2 1/3 innings.
Loons reliever Jeremiah Muhammad (2.77 ERA) replaced Scrubb, allowing 4-walks, with 3-strikeouts through 1 1/3 innings.
The Loons will have the day off tomorrow before a 4-game road trip to the west side of the state against the West Michigan Whitecaps (Detroit Tigers) Thur-Sun this weekend.