MIDLAND, Mich. -- There's no better way to close out a lengthy homestand than with a series sweep. Even better, it was of the four-game variety as the Great Lakes Loons took down the South Bend Cubs 8-3 for their 40th win of the season on Monday evening at Dow Diamond.
It's the 5th time the Loons have swept a series this season and they're the first Midwest League team to reach the 40-win mark.
The visitors jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the 1st inning, but four runs in the 3rd put the Loons comfortably in front the rest of the game. Dillon Paulson walked in a run and Dan Robinson brought two more across before a wild pitch allowed Paulson to cross home plate. Another run in the 4th, two in the 6th and one final run for good measure in the 7th was plenty for the high-octane attack known as the Loons lineup.
In the series as a whole, the Loons scored eight runs in two of the games, and 10 in the others for a total of 36 over a four-game stretch. It's their highest run total in a series this season. Entering Monday, the Loons led the MWL in runs scored, RBI, walks, on-base percentage and OPS.
Not to be lost in all the exorbitant run totals is the continually consistent effort from the Loons pitching staff. That was perpetuated by Jose Martinez (W, 4-1) allowing just one run over 5.0 innings with six strikeouts against the Cubs. Zach Willeman (SV, 1) turned in an astounding seven strikeouts in his lengthy 3.1-inning save effort.
With just six games left before the all-star break, the magic number is '2' for the Loons to clinch a playoff spot. Which means, if the Loons beat the Lake County Captains on Tuesday night in Ohio, they will clinch a berth in the postseason for the 8th time in the team's 13-year history.
The comparison to 2010 continues to be under the microscope. The best 1st half in Loons franchise history was that year when they finished with a 43-26 record (.623). This year's team's current win percentage is .656 and would need to finish the current half with a 2-4 record to earn the highest 1st half win percentage in franchise history. The Loons still can only lose one more game if they want to earn the highest win% for any half.
Miguel Vargas: 2-for-4, 2 2B, RBI, 2 R
Jacob Amaya: 2-for-3, 2B, RBI, R, 2 BB
Leonel Valera: 2-for-3, RBI, 2 R
Dan Robinson: 2 RBI
Zach Willeman: 3.1 IP, 7 K
DE GEUS THE 7th LOON NAMED AN ALL-STAR
Pitcher Brett de Geus became the 7th player from the Loons to be added to the East roster for next week's MWL All-Star Game on June 18 in South Bend, Ind. The 21-year-old from California has made a smooth transition to the bullpen after working nearly exclusively as a starter last season. The righty is 3-0 with a 2.88 ERA and 27 strikeouts against just six walks. He joins starters Miguel Vargas and Niko Hulsizer, along with Dillon Paulson, Jose Chacin and Nathan Witt on the roster. Austin Drury was
promoted to Advanced-A Rancho Cucamonga and will not be participating. Seven all-stars ties the 2009 and 2010 Loons for the most in franchise history.
HULSIZER SELECTED FOR HOME RUN DERBY
The Midwest League announced on Monday that Loons slugger Niko Hulsizer will be in the field of eight participants in the MWL Home Run Derby on Monday, June 17. Hulsizer, 22, currently ranks 2nd in the MWL with 13 home runs this season. He's also no stranger to the home run derby format after winning the 2017 College Home Run Derby as a sophomore at Morehead State. That night at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb., Hulsizer crushed 52 home runs en route to the title.
June 14: PRIDE Night; postgame concert by 'Valentiger'
June 15: Home Improvement Night feat. appearance by Richard Karn (Al Borland)
June 16: Prostate Cancer Awareness Day feat. postgame Father's Day catch on the field
June 17: Midwest League All-Star Game (South Bend, Ind.)
June 20: Lucky Hot Dog Night feat. X-Pogo Stunt Team
June 21: Polish Heritage Night feat. Feel Good Fridays & Extra Innings
The Great Lakes Loons have been the 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.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.