MIDLAND, MI - Tied up in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Great Lakes Loons (67-72, 33-36) loaded the bases against the visiting South Bend Silver Hawks (66-73, 31-38) before center fielder James Baldwin delivered the game's final hit to give the Loons the 4-3 win Sunday at Dow Diamond in front of 4,771 fans.
The inning started with Nick Akins being hit by pitch and he moved to second on a sac-bunt from Jeff Hunt. Both pinch hitters Scott Schebler and Jesse Bosnik were given free bases, though only one was intentional, to the stage for Baldwin, who was 0 for 2 before the at-bat.
"I just wanted to come through with the bases loaded," Baldwin said after the game. "Either pop a deep fly ball to the outfield or something. The infield was playing in. They had me in a pitcher's count [1-2]. After he threw me a slider, he came with a fastball inside and I just hit a ground ball to right field. It felt real good."
The hit was only the fifth of the game for the Loons, but it gave the team their ninth win in their last 11 games with one to go.
The Loons got on the board in the second inning when Darnell Sweeney slapped a two-out single to right field, scoring a pair for the early 2-0 lead. South Bend chipped away at the Loons lead with a Ryan Court RBI single in the fifth; tied it up on a bases-loaded double-play in the sixth; and took the lead with Brian Billigen's single in the eighth. The Silver Hawks finished with 12 hits.
Loons right fielder Joe Winker leveled the game in the bottom of the eight with a line-drive home run to right field. The homer was Winker's 11th of the season.
Raydel Sanchez started for the Loons, allowing South Bend two runs on eight hits over five innings before being relieved by Danny Coulombe. The Arizona native worked a clean sixth inning and was followed by Amalio Diaz, who surrendered the Silver Hawks go-ahead run. Daniel Carela pitched the ninth to pick up his second win as a Loon. Also helping out the Loons defensively was catcher Andrew Edge, who converted two of three plays at the plate for outs.
The Great Lakes Loons will look to conclude their 2012 campaign with a series sweep on Monday afternoon at Dow Diamond. Starting for the Loons at 2:05 p.m. will be RHP Gustavo Gomez (8-8, 5.63) against the Silver Hawks RHP Conrad Flynn (0-1, 6.41).
The Great Lakes Loons are a sixth-year Single-A partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers and are in the middle of their 5th Anniversary Celebration, which kicked off in August 2011 and will continue throughout the 2012 season. For more information about the Loons, visit Loons.com or call 989-837-BALL.