MIDLAND, MI – The Great Lakes Loons (30-36, 64-72) stayed in the race for the final playoff spot and avoided the sweep as they scored two unanswered runs in a 2-1 walk off win against the Lake County Captains (37-29, 64-72) on Friday night. Alex Santana provided the walk off single in front of a packed crowd at Dow Diamond.
Both starting pitchers kept the game scoreless until the top of the sixth inning when Lake County scored the first run. Catcher Sicnarf Loopstok led off with a walk and he moved to second on a fielding error. Following two strikeouts, third baseman Paul Hendrix singled home Loopstok to put Lake County on top 1-0. The Loons’ starter Jose De Leon departed the game and was replaced by Michael Johnson.
De Leon allowed one unearned run on two hits in five and two thirds innings. He walked one batter and fanned twelve Captains hitters. Johnson tossed a scoreless inning of work. Jordan Hershiser inherited a runner on first with two outs in the seventh and kept the Captains lead a run.
Southpaw Anderson Polanco scattered three hits across six scoreless innings. He did not walk a batter and he struck out eight. The lefty has had four starts without a run allowed. Robbie Aviles entered for the seventh.
Third baseman Paul Hoenecke opened the inning with a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. First baseman Josmar Cordero singled to tie the game as Hoenecke scored from second. A force out erased Cordero but left fielder Alex Santana reached first. Santana stole second and was thrown out at the dish by centerfielder Clint Frazier on a single.
Hershiser pitched one and two thirds innings of work. Albert Vanegas entered and threw a perfect ninth inning to improve to 1-0.
Aviles gave up one earned run in two innings before he gave way for Justin Brantley in the ninth. Brantley retired the first two batters, and then he walked designated hitter Webster Rivas, who was lifted for a pinch-runner. Pinch-runner Malcolm Holland stole second base and went to third on a interference call by the shortstop Ivan Castillo. Cordero walked and moved to second on defensive indifference before Santana won the game for Great Lakes.
Brantley fell to 4-1 with one unearned run in two thirds of an inning.
The Loons outhit the Captains 6-5 in the game. First baseman Nellie Rodriguez doubled in the game, giving him 55 extra-base hits on the year. He is one extra-base hit from breaking the Captains record.
The Captains will travel home to Eastlake to open the final series of the regular season on Saturday. The Dayton Dragons will come to town for a three-game series. RHP Dace Kime (7-13, 4.93) will make his final regular season start against RHP Nick Travieso (13-5, 3.10) for Dayton. First pitch is 7:00 PM at Classic Park.