MIDLAND, Mich. - The first three games of the series between the Great Lakes Loons and Lake County Captains went down to the wire. Game four was no different, as the Loons stole a 7-6 victory on a walk-off home run by Midwest League All-Star Jared Walker on Monday night at Dow Diamond.
Lake County reliever Jonathan Teaney (BS, 2) worked himself into an eighth-inning jam and the Loons made him pay. Mitchell Hansen singled to the shortstop, but all three base runners were able to score on the play without an error to tie the game, 6-6.
Then, in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, Walker sent a shot over the right-center field wall to win the game.
In the top of the first inning, Jonathan Laureano pulled his sixth home run of the season over the fence in left field, giving the Captains (26-38) an early edge. The Loons (22-40) got the run back in the bottom of the inning. After a triple by Brayan Morales, Walker scored him with a single. Romer Cuadrado and Eric Peterson followed with runs batted in of their own for a 3-1 lead.
In his first Minor League Baseball appearance since September 2016, Loons left-hander Victor Gonzalez allowed two runs on five hits in 3.2 innings pitched. After helping the Loons to a 2016 Midwest League championship, Gonzalez pitched in the 2016-17 Mexican Winter Pacific League with Charros de Jalisco, owning a 3.63 ERA, before missing the entire 2017 season with an injury. He sat out while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
The Captains starting pitcher Gregori Vasquez threw 4.2 innings on the bump. He allowed three runs on five hits and one walk. Riley Echols pitched in relief and allowed just one hit and one walk with five strikeouts in 2.1 innings.
Will Benson's RBI double in the top of the fourth inched Lake County within one run. Benson, ranked No. 7 in the Cleveland Indians farm system, now has six doubles on the season. Two innings later, Todd Isaacs singled to score Nolan Jones to knot the game, 3-3.
Loons reliever Justin Hoyt entered the game for Gonzalez and allowed the run in the sixth inning. He threw 2.1 innings of long relief and struck out two hitters.
With the bases juiced and two outs in the top of the seventh, Riley Ottesen was facing Jose Vicente in a tie game, 3-3. Vicente drew a walk to push in a run and give Lake County a 4-3 lead. Ottesen was pulled from his first appearance since May 28 and replaced by right-hander Connor Strain. Off Strain, Benson hit a single to left field, scoring two runs for a 6-3 lead over the Loons.
After Hansen knotted the game in the eighth inning, Walker hit his eighth home run of the season to hand the Loons a 7-6 win. Dace Kime allowed the home run and fell to 1-1 on the season.
To go with Hansen's three RBI and Walker's home run, the Loons were led by Morales, who went 2-for-4 with two stolen bases and a run scored. Cuadrado also had a multi-hit game, going 2-for-3 at the dish with an RBI. Lake County's Benson drove in three RBI and drew a walk while earning two hits in four at-bats.
The Loons remain at home for a three-game series against the West Michigan Whitecaps from Tuesday to Thursday. Following the conclusion of the series, Great Lakes will head to play the Fort Wayne TinCaps before the Midwest League All-Star Game on June 19.
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.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.