Loons Fall to Lugnuts in Home-Opener

Gonzalez strikes out seven in five innings, Great Lakes loses 2-1

Victor Gonzalez pitches during his first start for the Great Lakes Loons on Opening Day at Dow Diamond Wednesday.

By Matt DeVries / Great Lakes Loons | April 15, 2015 10:36 PM

MIDLAND, Mich. - It was a little chilly, it was really windy, but it was nice to have baseball back at Dow Diamond.

With the first three games of the season against the Fort Wayne TinCaps lost due to rain and unsafe field conditions, the Great Lakes Loons were able to get a game at home under their belt with starting pitcher Victor Gonzalez having a solid first start in Midland. But, the Loons bats' fell silent and dropped their first game of the season to the Lansing Lugnuts 2-1 Wednesday night.

"The conditions were for both teams tonight," Loons manager Luis Matos said. "I don't think that's an excuse for the game today, it was just good pitching."

Gonzalez threw five innings and allowed just one run on four hits. The Tuxpan, Mexico, native walked just one and struck out seven in his Midwest League-debut.

"He was great," Matos said. "He was throwing a lot of fastballs tonight. When you see guys swinging right away, you need to change the plan and change speeds. He did a great job. He only gave up one run in five innings which is pretty good."

Lansing got the scoring started in the 2nd inning when Gunnar Heidt doubled to centerfield. While Dickie Joe Thon was at the plate, Heidt was able to swipe third base with just one out. Thon went on to single up the middle, bring home Heidt to open the scoring.

It didn't take long for Great Lakes to respond as Mike Ahmed singled to open the 3rd inning. After Tyler Wampler grounded out, Alex Verdugo singled to right which allowed Ahmed to score from second base, sneaking past Lansing catcher Danny Jansen's tag to tie the game 1-1.

"It was a great feeling to be playing at our home stadium and to have the support of the fans tonight," Verdugo said. "The pitching is just like anything else I have seen in pro ball. These guys (in the Midwest League), they spot up a little better than what I've seen. But, they all make mistakes so you just need to take advantage."

Pitching did take center stage through the middle innings with both teams going scoreless until the 9th.

D.J. Davis singled with one out for the Lugnuts and advanced to second base on a throwing error from Wampler. After Heidt flied out to left and the Loons making a pitching change bringing in Karch Kowalczyk to replace Jose Molina, again it was Thon for Lansing, this time reaching on another Loons error to score Davis. That gave Lansing the 2-1 lead.

Great Lakes would threaten in the 9th inning as Scott De Jong singled and pinch-runner Kelvin Ramos stole second base, but the Loons could not push the tying run across.

Andrew Case (1-0) faced one batter, Yadir Drake, and got him to ground into a fielder's choice. That was enough to give him the win. Phil Kish (3) picked up his third save of the season for Lansing. Molina (0-1) struck out three in 1 2/3, but picked up the loss.

Kevin Guzman will get the start for the Loons tomorrow as he makes his Great Lakes' debut. The Maracay, Venezuela, native is 6-9 with 2.90 ERA as a professional, starting 12 games for the AZL Dodgers in 2014. Starlyn Suriel will get the call for the Lugntus.

Tomorrow is a Chemical Bank $1 Family Feast Night where fans can get hot dogs, chips, ice cream sandwiches and 16oz Pepsi products all for $1. It's also Lou E's Birthday Bash. Farm Bureau Insurance Magnet Schedules will be available as fans enter the ballpark, while the Loons schedule poster giveaway will take place following the game.

The Great Lakes Loons are a ninth-year Single-A partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. For tickets and more information about the Loons, visit Loons.com, or call 989-837-BALL.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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