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Five-Run West Michigan Seventh Inning Dooms Loons

Loons and Whitecaps go back and forth before late offensive explosion
July 24, 2022

MIDLAND, Mich. – Coming into this three-game series against the Great Lakes Loons, the West Michigan Whitecaps scored the most runs per game of any team in the Midwest League. In the first two games at Dow Diamond, the Whitecaps scored just five runs on 10 total hits. Sunday afternoon,

MIDLAND, Mich. – Coming into this three-game series against the Great Lakes Loons, the West Michigan Whitecaps scored the most runs per game of any team in the Midwest League.

In the first two games at Dow Diamond, the Whitecaps scored just five runs on 10 total hits.

Sunday afternoon, they lived up to their billing.

West Michigan exploded for a five-run seventh inning to take down the Loons in the rubber match, 10-5, to secure the series victory.

The Whitecaps (49-41, 18-6 second half) opened the scoring in the second inning on a two-run homer from Jose King.

Great Lakes (54-36, 14-10) responded immediately in the bottom of the second. After Jose Ramos walked, Imanol Vargas launched a two-run blast to deep right-center field, tying the game at two. For Vargas, it was his 12th home run of the season.

West Michigan, the Detroit Tigers’ High-A affiliate, put up another pair of runs in the top of the third inning. Ryan Kreidler drove in a run with a double before coming into score on a ground ball double play. The visitors entered the fourth inning with a 4-2 lead.

But the game continued on a back and forth trajectory. The Loons, High-A partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, scored a pair in the fourth inning, beginning with a solo shot from Ramos on the first pitch of the frame. Ramos left the yard for the 13th time this season with Great Lakes, and now sits with 19 homers on the season in total. The Loons got their second run of the inning without another hit: Vargas reached on a dropped third strike, moved to second on a walk, got to third on a groundout, and scored on a wild pitch. That tied the game at four.

The game would stay tied until the bottom of the sixth inning, when the Loons used some small ball to take the lead for the first time. Luis Diaz walked with one out, then moved to third on a single from Kekai Rios. A sacrifice fly from Ismael Alcantara gave Great Lakes a 5-4 advantage.

West Michigan had been kept quiet in the middle innings thanks to three scoreless frames from Lael Lockhart (L, 2-3), but things fell apart for him somewhat in the seventh inning. He allowed three hits in the frame and only recorded one out before being pulled. His final line read 3 1-3 innings, five hits, three earned runs, one walk and four strikeouts. The Whitecaps kept the line moving in the inning after Lockhart’s departure – the biggest blow of the frame a two-run double from Josh Crouch to put the Whitecaps ahead, 9-5.

The visitors added another run in the eighth inning, beginning with a double from former Loons catcher Chase Barbary, his second two-bagger of the game. Barbary scored on an RBI groundout from Kreidler, and the Whitecaps took a 10-5 lead, the score which would become the final.

At the same time, the Whitecaps were able to quiet the Loons down with great relief pitching, beginning with 1 1-3 perfect innings from Chavez Fernander (W, 2-0). The combo of Andrew Magno and Elvis Alvarado (SV, 6) pitched the final two scoreless frames to secure the series victory.

The Whitecaps claim the series, two games to one, but the Loons still hold a 7-5 season series lead over West Michigan. Great Lakes begins a six-game series against the Lansing Lugnuts (35-55, 10-14) at Dow Diamond at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday. It’s a jam-packed week of promotions with Office Professionals Night, Princess and Pirate Night, and more – tickets are still available at Loons.com.

The Great Lakes Loons have been a Single-A partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers since the team’s inception in 2007. Dow Diamond serves as the team’s home and also houses the Michigan Baseball Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity, and ESPN 100.9-FM. For tickets or information about the Loons, call 989-837-BALL or visit Loons.com.