The Great Lakes Loons (37-68) could only muster 4-total hits, but that was more than enough after some very strong pitching allowed the Loons to eventually break a 0-0 tie with 1-run in the eighth, before adding another 2-runs in the ninth, which led to a 3-0 shutout victory over the Lake County Captains (Cleveland Indians) in a 'pitchers duel' at Classic Park in Eastlake, OH on the outskirts of Cleveland tonight.
Making his Great Lakes debut, 6-foot-5, 235-pound left-hand starter John Rooney (a third round pick of the Dodgers in the 2018 MLB draft out of Hofstra University where he was a teammate of Saginaw Sugar Beets third baseman Daniel Page) was just about perfect while on a limited pitch-count, allowing just a hit and a walk through 3-scoreless innings, before fellow lefty Bryan Warzek (who combined with Rooney in the piggy-back start) also allowed a hit and a walk, while striking out 6-batters throughout the following 2 2/3 scoreless innings.
Lake County starter Jean Carlos Mejia somehow managed to outshine the impressive piggy-back start of Rooney and Warzek after taking a perfect game into the fifth and a no-hitter into the seventh inning, where he eventually allowed just 1-hit and 1-walk, while striking out an impressive 10-Great Lakes batters through 7-scoreless innings for the Captains tonight.
After Mejia was replaced by Lake County reliever Robert Broom to start the eighth, the Loons would finally get on the scoreboard when first baseman Brock Carpenter reached on a 1-out walk, then advanced to second on a single by catcher Gersel Pitre, before another walk to Great Lakes CF Josh McLain loaded the bases, which led to Carpenter scoring on a sac fly RBI off the bat of DH Deacon Liput to give the Loons a 1-0 lead in the top of the eighth inning.
Broom (0-1, 1.29 ERA) was tagged with his first loss of the season for the Captains after giving up the 1-run on 1-hit and 2-walks, with 2-strikeouts through 1-inning of relief.
The Loons added a couple more runs in the ninth when RF Romer Cuadrado doubled to score Great Lakes LF Drew Avans (who led off the inning with a single) and second baseman Devin Mann (who reached on an error) for a 3-0 lead in the top of the ninth inning.
Loons reliever Sven Schuller (1-2, 4.84 ERA) replaced Warzek in the sixth and was lights out, earning his first win of the season for the Loons after allowing just 3-hits, while striking out 2-batters through 1 1/3 scoreless innings, while Great Lakes closer Darien Nunez (SV1, 2.51 ERA) continues to anchor the Loons' bullpen, as he picked up his first save of the season after allowing just 4-hits, with 2-strikeouts to close out the final 2-innings for the Loons.
Avans finished 2 for 4, while Cuadrado was 1 for 3 with 2-RBI's and 1-walk to lead the Great Lakes offense, followed by Pitre who had the only other Loons hit tonight.
The Loons, who now have a 2 games to 1 lead in the 4-game road series with Lake County, will have a chance to win the series in the finale at 11 am right back here at Classic Park tomorrow afternoon.