Midland, MI - Locked in a tight battle through the first five innings, it looked as if one inning would be the deciding factor in Game 3 of the Midwest League Championship Series. With the game scoreless going into the bottom of the sixth, Great Lakes rallied for four runs, which proved to be more than enough as the Loons shutout the LumberKings 4-0 for the second straight game. Clinton has now gone 18 innings without scoring a run. Great Lakes now has a two games to one lead in the best of five Midwest League Championship Series.
The LumberKings got their first base runner of the game in the top of the third when James Alfonso reached on a leadoff throwing error from shortstop Brendon Davis. Ricky Eusebio then hit a potential double play ground ball to Davis, who got the lead runner at second, but Omar Estevez's turn to first went low and onto the warning track, advancing Eusebio to second. Caleb Ferguson came back and got Rayder Ascanio to ground out to short, but then walked Chris Mariscal to set up a lefty on lefty matchup with Luis Liberato. Working around Mariscal worked, as Ferguson struck out Liberato to end the frame.
Great Lakes had a golden opportunity to score in the bottom of the inning when Stevie Berman bashed a leadoff double off the center field wall. LumberKings starter Kevin Gadea then got Darien Tubbs to strike out looking, Saige Jenco to ground out to short, and Brendon Davis to strike out swinging to end the inning with Berman standing at second.
The Loons had another good chance to score in the fourth as Logan Landon took a 3-1 fastball and scorched it down the third base line with one out for a double, but Gadea masterfully struck out both D.J. Peters and Zach McKinstry to end the inning.
In the sixth inning though, the Loons would break it open in a big way. Kevin Gadea got Brendon Davis to strike out to open the frame, but he then walked Omar Estevez. Ball four went towards the backstop, and Estevez took second. It was a moot point though as Gadea walked Logan Landon, ending his night. Joey Strain came in and got ahead of D.J. Peters, but Peters took a two strike fastball and one hopped it into the right field wall for a double, scoring Estevez and moving Landon to third, making it 1-0 Loons. Zach McKinstry then came up and poked one that landed a foot fair down the left field line, going for a double and scoring both runners to make it 3-0 Loons. Strain then got Ibandel Isabel to pop out, but Stevie Berman singled up the middle to bring home McKinstry, extending the lead to 4-0.
Caleb Ferguson left after 4.2 one hit innings, but reliever Andrew Istler came in and shut the door, throwing three scoreless innings to get the win. Shea Spitzbarth relieved Istler with two outs in the eighth and finished the game for his third save of the playoffs. The Loons have now limited the LumberKings to just six hits combined in the last 18 innings.
Facing a win or go home situation tomorrow, the LumberKings will turn to Nick Neidert in Game 4, who will be making his third playoff start. Great Lakes will counter with hard throwing righty Yadier Alvarez. First pitch is at 1:05 CT, and you can listen to all of the action on WCCI 100.3 FM. The game broadcast will also be online at www.lumberkings.com.