MIDLAND, Mich. - The Great Lakes Loons (29-44, 2-1) took their first series of the second half on Saturday night at Dow Diamond, beating the West Michigan Whitecaps (34-39, 1-2), 2-1, scoring the winning run in the home half of the ninth inning.
Leadoff hitter Robbie Garvey started the ninth with a single up the middle off Whitecaps reliever Josh Turley (5-3). After Turley was lifted for Guido Knudson, Leo Rodriguez dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move Garvey to second base. Midwest League All-Star Tyler Ogle, who had been 0-for-3 prior to that at-bat, then crushed a double off the wall in right-center field, easily scoring Garvey to secure the walk-off win.
"It's really exciting, Ogle said. "We all love walk-off wins. I think that is my first walk-off in a long time. I felt confident going up to the plate. You know I dream about that all the time, as a baseball player, you don't want anything other than to be up in the bottom of the ninth. For me to see a good pitch and to hit it well, you know it is really a dream come true."
"It doesn't make any difference to me how we win, we just had to sweat a little more," Loons manager Razor Shines added. "The score does not matter, as long as you win. A win is a win, especially when the kids are getting after it."
The Loons scored first, getting a run in the bottom of the first inning. Garvey scored the first run of the game for the second consecutive night, as Great Lakes scored in the first frame for the third consecutive night. Garvey singled up the middle and stole second base before scoring on a Corey Seager single.
Cleanup hitter Jeff Holm scored for West Michigan in the fourth inning, reaching on a single to right field and scoring when seven-hitter Bennett Pickar doubled off the right field wall.
Great Lakes starting pitcher Brandon Martinez threw a solid 5 1/3 innings, giving up one earned run on seven hits. Martinez struck out five and walked one.
"I just came out with the mentality of attacking the hitters," Martinez said. "My off-speed stuff was there and I felt like my fastball was pretty good. I just did what I could for the team."
The Detroit Tigers No. 4 prospect, Jake Thompson, started for the Whitecaps and was on point after allowing Great Lakes to score in the first inning. Thompson struck out 10 Loons and did not allow a walk. He gave up one earned run on three hits.
Both bullpens were very good. After a Rodriguez single in the third, the Loons did not have a hit until Garvey singled in the ninth. Turley took the loss for West Michigan, but faced the minimum number of hitters in the seventh and eighth innings before giving up Garvey's leadoff single in the ninth.
Martinez left the game in the sixth, with runners on second and third base and one out. Scott Griggs entered in relief and walked Connor Harrell to load the bases, but got Pickar to ground into a double play to end the threat. West Michigan threatened again in the seventh. Griggs was lifted for Luis Meza with runners at first and second, with one out. Meza got Jared Reaves and Devon Travis to fly out to get out of the inning.
Geoff Brown (2-0) entered in the eighth and retired six straight Whitecaps in two scoreless innings to get the win. Brown struck out three and did not issue any walks.
The Loons open a three-game series with the South Bend Silver Hawks (46-26, 2-1) on Sunday afternoon. Mexico native Julio Urias (1-0, 3.12 ERA), just 16 years old, is expected make his sixth professional start for Great Lakes. Midwest League All-Star Brandon Sinnery, a University of Michigan product, is slated to start for South Bend. It is a Family Fun in the SUNday, along with a Post-Game Kids Run the Bases and a Pre-Game Youth Baseball Clinic. There will also be appearance at Dow Diamond by the Zooperstars!
The Great Lakes Loons are a seventh-year Single-A partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. For tickets and more information about the Loons, visit Loons.com or call 989-837-BALL.