MIDLAND, Mich. – After a 7-2 win Tuesday at the home of the Lake County Captains, the Great Lakes Loons returned Thursday to the friendly confines of Dow Diamond with two chances to secure one win and punch their ticket to the Midwest League Championship Series.
Now, they have one chance for that one win.
The Captains pitched a 2-0 shutout, holding a Loons’ offense which collected 10 hits Tuesday to just three hits Thursday, to keep their season alive and force a winner-take-all Game 3 on Friday at Dow Diamond.
Lake County (1-1) scored their first run in the fourth inning. Connor Kokx walked to lead off the frame against Loons righty Adolfo Ramirez (L, 0-1). After two outs, Yordys Valdez doubled down the right field line to score the run and give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
Meanwhile, the Loons (1-1) were held to just three hits in the first five innings, thanks to a tremendous performance from Tommy Mace (W, 1-0). The right-hander tossed 5 1-3 shutout frames and allowed just three hits, walking two batters and striking out six batters. This comes after five starts against Great Lakes this season in which he allowed 16 earned runs in 15 1-3 innings.
The Captains, High-A affiliate of the Cleveland Guardians, had great appearances from their bullpen as well. Alaska Abney did not allow a hit in his 1 2-3 innings, walking a pair and punching out a pair. Left-hander Raymond Burgos (SV, 1) spun two near-perfect innings, with the lone runner against him reaching on a hit by pitch. He also struck out two batters.
Great Lakes, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ High-A partner, also saw good work from its relief corps. Jeff Belge tossed a perfect 1 1-3 innings with one strikeout. After Ronan Kopp loaded the bases with nobody out, Aldry Acosta came in and did not allow a run to score, getting a strikeout and a double play. Michael Hobbs retired the first five batters he faced including three strikeouts, but two hits and a walk at the end of his appearance scored an insurance run for Lake County. Great Lakes southpaw Christian Suarez got the final four outs for the Loons, allowing just a two-out single in the ninth inning and striking out one.
Lake County’s final run came in the eighth inning against Hobbs. Kokx hit a two-out double and, after a walk, Micael Ramirez drove in a run with a single up the middle.
The formula for Great Lakes’ win Tuesday certainly did not continue Thursday. Loons pitchers…