MIDLAND, Mich. - In front of a crowd of 3,449, the largest for a postseason game in six years, the Great Lakes Loons shut out the Clinton LumberKings 4-0 to take a 2-1 lead in the Midwest League Championship Series. The Loons are now one win away from claiming their first MWL Championship in their first-ever appearance in the MWLCS and will have their first chance at 2:05 p.m. on Sunday.
All four runs came in to score in the 6th inning and, despite committing three errors in the field, Great Lakes pitchers Caleb Ferguson, Andrew Istler (W, 2-0) and Shea Spitzbarth (SV, 3) shut down the Clinton lineup allowing just six baserunners all night on just three hits and one walk. Istler is now tied with current Loons pitcher Leo Crawford for the franchise record in postseason wins, while Spitzbarth is now the sole postseason saves leader in Loons history.
It was Omar Estevez who started the rally after a cagey first six innings that saw both teams get runners on base, but not able to get any runs in. On a ball four that would've put Estevez on first base, the ball went to the backstop and James Alfonso couldn't immediately locate it. The Cuban infielder quickly ran down the first base line and took a turn for second base, sliding in safely. After Logan Landon walked, in stepped DJ Peters who smoked a ball to right field for a run-scoring double that Alex Jackson could not track down.
The next batter was Zach McKinstry who, on a 0-2 count, blooped a ball that just snuck inside the left field foul line. It would end up being a double for the Los Angeles Dodgers draftee out of Central Michigan University, with both Landon and Peters crossing home plate to make it 3-0.
Catcher Stevie Berman had one of his best games in a Loons uniform going 2-for-2 with a walk. After a booming double to the center field wall in the 3rd, it was a rope up the middle to cap off the big 6th inning when McKinstry scooted around to score.
The Loons are now 6-3 in the postseason for the 2016 season and win or lose the series, it will go down as the most successful playoff run in team history. However, they will have two potential cracks at winning their first league championship in franchise history.
Tickets for Game 4 against Clinton on Sunday are on sale at Loons.com. The Dow Diamond box office will be open from 9 a.m. with tickets available in person and over the phone.
Coverage of Game 4 on Sunday will begin with Chris Vosters and Brad Tunney at 1:35 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.