MIDLAND, Mich. - Great Lakes Loons manager Bill Haselman is convinced his team's pitching is playoff-contender worthy. But he has an issue with its offensive execution.
The Loons lost 3-2 Saturday to the Lansing Lugnuts in a game that presented them with opportunities to score more runs. It didn't happen, however, and the Loons are now 4-5 in the second half of the Midwest League season after dropping their third consecutive game before 4,522 fans at Dow Diamond.
"I'd like to see the stat for how good we are at bringing runners in from third with less than two outs," said Haselman. "We're just giving games away because we're not getting it done. The other teams are playing back (in the infield) and giving us the run, but we don't get it done."
Like Great Lakes did in Friday night's game, Lansing built an early 3-0 lead Saturday. But the Loons rallied with four consecutive hits to start the third inning, including a two-run double by Jesmuel Valentin. Yet, they also let Lansing starter Jeremy Gabryzwski off the hook - with runners on second and third and no outs - on pop outs by Brandon Trinkwon and Josmar Cordero, and a line out to left by Paul Hoenecke.
Valentin singled and advanced to third on a single by Trinkwon with two outs in the fifth, but Cordero flew out to right. The Loons also put two runners on in the seventh, and had had a runner on second in the eighth with two outs, but couldn't capitalize against Lugnuts' reliever Alonzo Gonzalez.
The Lugnuts (6-3) scored two runs off of Loons starter Scott Barlow in the first inning and another in the third, but nothing else the rest of the night. Barlow (2-3) ended up pitching five innings, while reliever Ralston Cash came on to pitch three scoreless innings, and was followed by Matt Campbell, who pitched a scoreless ninth.
"Our pitching is good enough," said Haselman. "It has been good enough."
D.J. Davis, Matt Dean and Derrick Loveless each drove in a run for Lansing, which finished with eight hits - one less than the Loons. Valentin had two hits for the Loons - giving him six in two games - while Holland also had two hits. Lansing closer Griffin Murphy pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his league-high 15th save.
The two teams resume their four-game series tomorrow at 3:05 p.m. Right-hander Greg Harris will be seeking his sixth win for the Loons while lefty Shane Dawson (2-3, 3.79) ERA is scheduled to start for the Lugnuts.
Tomorrow's on-field activities will include an appearance by the popular BirdZerk, America's Ballpark Pranskter. Also, kids will get to run the bases free following the game, courtesy of Farm Bureau Insurance.
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.