A five run eighth inning led to 5-1 Great Lakes Loons victory over the West Michigan Whitecaps (Detroit Tigers) in the final game of the 2016 Midwest League regular season in front of 3,577 fans at Dow Diamond this afternoon.
Darien Tubbs, Steve Berman, and Zach McKinstry led off the eighth with singles, scoring two runs and Matt Jones followed with a 3 run home run to center field to give the Loons a 5-1 lead.
The Loons pitching staff was brilliant again, especially the bullpen which did not allow a single run, walk, or hit as three different pitchers combined for 4 innings of perfect relief.
Great Lakes starter Victor Gonzalez (3-6, 3.61 ERA) gave up just one run on 4-hits, while striking out 8 West Michigan batters through a rock solid 5 inning start.
Gonzalez' only blemish came in the fifth inning when Whitecaps' catcher Franklin Navarro (2) took him deep to left field for his second homer of the year. Gonzalez would settle in to get out of the inning.
Tony Gonsolin (5.27 ERA) came in to pitch the sixth and seventh innings and was perfect through his two relief innings. Karch Kawalczyk (4.50 ERA) was also perfect pitching the eighth inning for the Loons as he struck out two of the three batters he faced.
Andrew Istler (0.96 ERA) saw his ERA dip below 1 as he earned the save, closing with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
Jones was 2 for 4 with 3 RBI to lead the Loons offensively, while McKinstry, Tubbs, and Berman contributed one hit each respectively.
The Loons will host the Bowling Green Hot Rods for game one of the 2016 MWL eastern division wild card (best of three) series. Games two and three are set for Thursday and Friday (if necessary) in Bowling Green.