MIDLAND, Mich. - The way the Great Lakes Loons kept chipping away at Bowling Green's lead Sunday, it almost seemed inevitable that a full comeback was in order.
But it wasn't.
The Loons spotted Bowling Green a 5-0 lead at Dow Diamond and cut it to a run after seven innings, but couldn't bring it all the way back in a 5-4 loss in front of 2,238 fans. Now 20-23 on the season, the Loons lost for the second game in a row to the Hot Rods but still won four of the seven games during a week-long homestand.
Next up for the Loons is a three-game series in Dayton, and then they'll return home for three games against South Bend. Dayton and South Bend - and also West Michigan - have been battling for the Midwest League Eastern Division lead for the past few weeks, while the Loons have fallen 5 ½ games out of first.
"It's a long season," said Loons third baseman Brandon Trinwon, who made the defensive play of the game in the ninth inning. "We go to Dayton and they've been near the top. Hopefully we can go there and have a good series then come back home."
Trinkwon made a diving stop of a sharp ground ball hit by Bowling Green's Johnny Field with a runner on first with no out in the ninth. He got to his feet quickly and threw to second to force Alexander Simon.
"I was playing in (while expecting a bunt) and I didn't have time to react," Trinkwon said. "I just wanted to get my glove down in time."
Trinkwon's defensive gem helped the Loons go into the bottom of the ninth still trailing by only a run. But Bowling Green reliever Colton Reavis retired the Loons in order to close out the win.
The Hot Rods (19-23) scored five runs off of Loons starter Zachary Bird (2-6), who gave up nine hits but wasn't helped by his defense at times. Bowling Green scored a run in the second when a routine fly ball by Pat Blair fell between two outfielders.
"Physical mistakes you can understand but mental mistakes are a little harder to accept," said Loons manager Bill Haselman. "That ball was just a matter of communication and we didn't communicate."
Bird was relieved by Brandon Martinez, who through three nearly-perfect innings. Martinez gave way to Jacob Rhame, who pitched a scoreless ninth.
The Loons began their comeback in the fifth inning on a single by Jesmuel Valentin and a safety-squeeze bunt by Malcom Holland that scored another run. They cut the Hot Rods' lead to two runs in the sixth when Kyle Farmer had a leadoff double and then scored on a throwing error by Blair at shortstop.
Valentin then led off the seventh with a triple and scored with two outs when Jacob Scavuzzo legged out an infield single. With that, the Loons trailed by just a run. But Bowling Green reliever Andrew Hanse, who gave up the run in the seventh, retired the side in the eighth before giving way to Reavis.
The Loons begin their three-game series at Dayton tomorrow, then return home to face South Bend on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. on $1 Family Feast Night at Dow Diamond.
The Great Lakes Loons are an eighth-year Single-A partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. For tickets and more information, call 989-837-BALL or visit loons.com.