MIDLAND, Mich. - Only one strike away from a shutout victory, the Great Lakes Loons instead experienced extra-inning frustration Thursday in their first game of the second-half.
The visiting Dayton Dragons tied the game in the bottom of the ninth, then went on to win 4-2 in 12 innings before 5,115 fans at Dow Diamond. The Loons had scored a run in the first inning and the lead held up - with the help of a brilliant effort from starting pitcher Jonathan Martinez - until Dayton rallied in the ninth.
The Loons then had everything in place for a walk-off win in the 10th inning, but Jacob Scavuzzo was thrown out at the plate on a perfect throw from Dragons' centerfielder Gabriel Rosa after Kyle Farmer singled with two outs. They rallied in the 11th to tie the game on a Joey Curletta double into the leftfield corner which scored pinch runner Brandon Trinkwon.
But Dayton broke the tie in the 12th on a two-run double by Joe Hudson to the gap in right center. It was an eventful inning in other ways, too, as Loons shortstop Dillon Moyer and Bill Haselman were thrown out after Moyer argued a pickoff play at second.
The Loons had only two previous ejections this season - both by the same umpiring crew of Dave Attridge and Michael Savakinas II. Dragons' designated hitter Jon Matthews was also ejected for arguing balls and strikes earlier in the game.
"I'm not going to say anything about any of that," said Loons manager Bill Haselman. "It is what it is. But I'm happy with how we played, for the most part, and how we kept battling. It's a tough loss, but you move on."
Great Lakes scored a run in the first when Farmer tripled home Jesmuel Valentin, and that was the only run it needed through the next seven innings as Martinez (6 innings, 2 hits, 0 runs) never allowed a runner past first base, and reliever Victor Araujo (0.96 ERA) pitched two more scoreless innings.
But Dayton got a two-out double from Daniel Pigot in the top of the ninth off of Loons reliever Jacob Rhame, and then Tanner Rahier followed with a double to tie the game.
The Dragons took the lead in the 11th on a two-out home run by Phil Ervin off of Ralston Cash, only to see the Loons tie it in the bottom of the inning on Curletta's sharp double.
Cash (0-1) took the loss for the Loons while Alejandro Chacin, one of five Dayton pitches, earned his fourth win in five decisions.
One of the evening's biggest highlights came when the Loons honored their 2-millionth fan prior to the game Six-year-old Emily Watson of Warren was identified as that fan as she came through the front gate with her grandparents, Lyle and Connie Orr of Sterling. Emily and her family will be rewarded with a prize package which includes two tickets to two Los Angeles Dodgers games, free air fare to Los Angeles, three nights hotel stay, tickets to Universal Studios, and a $500 Visa Gift Card, all courtesy of Dow Chemical.
Tomorrow night is Flat Screen Friday at Dow Diamond. The Loons will give away nine 43-inch Samsung flat screen TVs throughout the game. Fans can sign up during the game for a chance to win.
Right-hander Zachary Bird (4-8, 4.30 ER) will start for the Loons on Friday against Dayton right-hander Sal Romano (4-6, 3.77). Game time is 7:05 p.m.
The Great Lakes Loons are an eighth-year Single-A partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. For tickets and information about the team, call 989-837-BALL, or visit loons.com.