BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - For the third time in franchise history, the Great Lakes Loons are headed to the Midwest League Eastern Division Championship after a 5-2 win against the Bowling Green Hot Rods on Saturday. The Loons won the best-of-three series 2-1 after winning game one at home and dropping a heartbreaker on Friday night in Kentucky.
The victory sets up a best-of-three series with the West Michigan Whitecaps beginning Sunday at Dow Diamond. The series will then shift to Comstock Park, Mich., for Game 2 on Monday and, if necessary, Game 3 on Tuesday. Gates will open at 6 p.m. and first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Tickets are on sale at Loons.com and will be on sale at the Dow Diamond box office beginning at 9 a.m. on Sunday.
After Great Lakes jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, the Hot Rods responded with two runs in the 3rd inning to move in front. Bowling Green starter Blake Bivens provided a stiff test over his six innings of work stifling the Loons offense. But after he exited, Great Lakes touched up Elias Torres (BS, 1; L, 0-1) for four runs to snatch the victory.
With two outs in the top of the 7th inning, Saige Jenco worked himself a single down the left field line. In stepped Luke Raley who had been activated off the disabled list prior to the start of the game. The outfielder laced a line drive into the right center field alley. As Jenco came towards third base, manger Gil Velazquez waved him towards home plate. As the throw came in, Hot Rods catcher David Rodriguez dropped the ball and Jenco slide across home plate to tie the game. With Raley advancing to second base on the play, the next batter was Omar Estevez and he shot a ball up the middle into center field that scored Raley to give Great Lakes a 3-2 lead.
After Leo Crawford (W, 1-0) set down Bowling Green in order in the bottom of the 7th, Jake Henson worked himself a one-out single in the top of the 8th. Inserted into the lineup as a pinch-hitter in the 6th, Gage Green's second at-bat saw him launch a fly ball off the scoreboard beyond the right field fence for a two-run home run. It was the first home run of the postseason for Green and it gave the Loons a three-run cushion.
Walker Buehler started for the Loons and threw two scoreless innings. Crawford then worked through the next five frames allowing the two Hot Rods runs on five hits. Andrew Istler (SV, 1) surrendered two hits but did not walk a batter and kept Bowling Green off the scoreboard down the stretch for the save.
The Great Lakes Loons, hosts of the 2017 Midwest League All-Star Game, have been a Single-A partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers since the team's inception in 2007 and are in their 10th season. For tickets and more information about the Loons, call 989-837-BALL or visit Loons.com.