MIDLAND, MI – Despite having the game’s tying run in scoring position with no outs, the Great Lakes Loons (56-48) fell a run shy, falling at Dow Diamond in 11 innings Wednesday night, 12-11. Robert Hassell, the Padres’ third-best prospect and MLB.com’s 46th in all of baseball, recorded Fort Wayne’s
MIDLAND, MI – Despite having the game’s tying run in scoring position with no outs, the Great Lakes Loons (56-48) fell a run shy, falling at Dow Diamond in 11 innings Wednesday night, 12-11. Robert Hassell, the Padres’ third-best prospect and MLB.com’s 46th in all of baseball, recorded Fort Wayne’s first three-HR night since July 22, 2010, and the first individual three-HR night allowed by Great Lakes pitching in their franchise’s history.
The Loons trailed 12-8 entering the bottom of the 11th, falling to even the series and remain a game behind Cedar Rapids for the final playoff spot with 16 games remaining.
In resilient fashion, the Loons answered to deficits of 3-0 in the fourth, 8-5 in the sixth, and fell a run shy of overcoming the 12-8 burden in the 11th. Great Lakes entered Wednesday 28-1 when scoring eight or more runs in a game, and were 22-0 scoring nine or more.
Fort Wayne’s Wen-Hua Sung (W, 1-1) loaded the bases in the final inning, and moved the tying run to third and the winning run to second on a wild pitch with one out in the ninth, before leaving the bases full for Austin Smith (S, 1). A two-out walk to Joe Vranesh loaded the bases before the TinCaps pitching change, with Valera grounding out to the pitcher’s mound for the final out.
Jeff Belge continued an incredibly strong latter half to the season with three scoreless innings of relief for Great Lakes, holding FW scoreless on one hit and one walk, striking out four batters. Jose Rudolfo (L, 0-1) allowed the four runs in the final frame, walking his first batter before a sacrifice bunt moved both runners in scoring position.
Reinaldo Ilarazza broke an 8-8 tie that had held since the bottom of the sixth inning with a one-out single in the 11th, setting up Hassell for his third HR of the night and providing the pivotal runs.
Fort Wayne began the night’s scoring with three runs on Loons starter Hyun-il Choi in the top of the second inning. Following a leadoff single from catcher Brandon Valenzuela, Justen Lopez and Zack Mathis poured in back-to-back doubles to extend the damage. Ilarazza ended the frame with his first RBI knock, giving Fort Wayne the 3-0 lead.
The Loons took their first lead of the night with four runs on four hits, all with two outs on TinCaps starter Connor Lehmann. With the bases empty, Andy Pages began the rally with a base hit, allowing Eddys Leonard to drive in Pages with his fifth double as a Loon. Jorbit Vivas followed suit with a run-scoring single, and set the stage for a Brandon Lewis blast. After slugging 10 in Rancho Cucamonga, Lewis is one HR shy of becoming the third Loon to reach 20+ long balls this season.
A 4-3 Loons lead did not last long when Fort Wayne responded with two more runs on their first HR of the night. Following a leadoff single from Valenzuela, Lopez recorded just the second HR allowed by Choi with GL in 26 2/3 innings. Each team featured solo home runs when Leonel Valera homered in the bottom of the fourth inning, tying the game 5-5. Valera’s two-out HR came as his first long ball since August 1.
Fort Wayne’s solo HR came from Hassell in the next half frame. Hassell would one-up himself with a two-run big fly in the sixth, scoring three unanswered runs to give Fort Wayne an 8-5 lead.
Great Lakes tied Wednesday’s game with a three-run HR from Joe Vranesh in the bottom of the sixth inning. Carson Taylor led the frame off with a leadoff walk, his first base-on-balls of three Wednesday night. Jonny DeLuca’s double allowed Vranesh to poke a ball to the deepest pocket of Dow Diamond, his ninth HR of the year.
Wednesday’s 8-8 game remained tied for the next four innings, as both teams failed to score their placed runner in the 10th inning. Hassell concluded the top of the 11th with his third HR of the night, scoring Ilarraza to establish either team’s largest lead of the night.
The Loons saw their first three batters reach base in the bottom of the final inning, drawing the deficit within reach with back-to-back RBI hits from Leonard and Vivas off the reliever Sung. With the bases loaded, Fort Wayne submitted Austin Smith to the mound, forcing Valera to roll over back to the mound and strand the bases full to end Wednesday’s game.
Now in an even series, Thursday night features the return of Dodgers’ 2020 first-rounder Bobby Miller in his first start since July 23. In his debut pro season, Miller holds a 2.03 ERA in 44 1/3 innings with 53 strikeouts. Opposing Miller will be TinCaps right-hander Gabe Mosser, who leads Fort Wayne with 71 1/3 innings pitched this season.
Coverage begins with the Loons On-Deck Circle, Built by Three Rivers, on ESPN 100.9 FM at 6:35 P.M. EDT, with first pitch at Dow Diamond penciled for 7:05 P.M.
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.