COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. - For the first time in franchise history, the Great Lakes Loons are headed to the Midwest League Championship after downing the West Michigan Whitecaps 5-2 on Tuesday night at Fifth Third Ballpark in the winner-take-all Game 3 of the MWL Eastern Division Championship.
The Loons advance to play the Western Division Champions the Clinton LumberKings. The championship series will begin on Wednesday with Games 1 and 2 taking place on the road in Iowa. Great Lakes will return to Dow Diamond for Game 3 on Saturday night with a 7:05 p.m. first pitch. Games 4 and 5, if necessary, would follow on Sunday (2:05) and Monday (7:05), respectively.
Trailing 2-0 heading to the top of the 6th inning, the Loons had not recorded a hit yet in the ballgame. Starter Yadier Alvarez had tossed five innings but was done for the evening. That's when Darien Tubbs was able to break up the no-hit bid for Whitecaps starter Kyle Dowdy. Despite another base hit in the frame from Brendon Davis, the Loons would leave the frame empty-handed. It wasn't until the 7th when the Loons were able to get on the board.
With one out DJ Peters, who was added to the playoff roster on Monday, worked a walk to reach base. After Logan Landon singled it was Jake Henson who brought Peters in to score to cut the deficit in half. But with pinch-hitter Eric Meza working a walk to load the bases later in the inning, the Loons would strand all three runs heading to the final two innings.
The fireworks of the night would come courtesy of second baseman Omar Estevez. With Whitecaps reliever Drew Smith (BS 1, L 2-1) on the mound and Davis already on base after his second single of the game, Estevez smacked a ball over the wall in left field for a two-run home run to give the Loons their first lead of the game.
Insurance runs were on the way in the top of the 9th inning when Gage Green scored on Davis' third hit of the game and Saige Jenco scurried home on a wild pitch by Mark Ecker to push the lead to 5-2 for Great Lakes.
After Andrew Istler (W, 1-0) relieved Jose Santos, who was carted off the field after being struck with a line drive in his foot, and tossed two shutout innings with three strikeouts, it was Shea Spitzbarth (SV, 2) who closed out the game only allowing a double with two outs.
Alvarez allowed two runs on the night for the Loons, both of which were unearned. He surrendered three hits and issued one walk with four strikeouts. Santos was perfect in his one inning pitched
Tickets for Game 3 against Clinton are on sale at Loons.com. The Dow Diamond box office will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. throughout the week with tickets available in person and over the phone.
Coverage of Game 1 from Iowa will begin with Chris Vosters and Matt DeVries at 7 p.m. EDT on ESPN 100.9-FM with the Loons On-Deck Circle powered by Dow Corning. The broadcast will be available on over-the-air radio, online at Loons.com, and by using the Tune In app on a smartphone or tablet.
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.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.