COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. - A sacrifice fly from Jared Walker brought the Loons into a 3-3 tie in the ninth inning, but West Michigan walked in a run in the bottom of the ninth to secure a 4-3 win and sweep the series in four games on Thursday afternoon at Fifth Third Ballpark.
Walks continued to plague the Loons as the team's record dropped to 2-6. Twelve West Michigan batters were awarded a base on balls on Thursday; it is the second time this season Loons' pitching has walked that number in a game, and it is the third time in eight games in which the Loons have walked 10 or more batters. The Loons entered play on Thursday with the second-highest walk total in the Midwest League with 40 walks allowed.
In addition to the game-winning run, West Michigan also walked in a run in the bottom of the first inning.
The Loons rallied twice in the game, tying the tally 1-1 in the fifth on Walker's RBI groundout and again at 3-3 with one out in the ninth on his team-best sixth RBI of the season. With 11 hits total, including four for extra bases, the Loons outhit West Michigan for the second time in the series.
Right-hander Dan Jagiello (L, 0-1) took the loss for the Loons. He allowed a leadoff walk to Colby Bortles to start the bottom of the ninth. Following a wild pitch that advanced Bortles to second, the Loons intentionally walked Jordan Pearce. When Dylan Rosa also walked to load the bases with no outs, the Loons employed a unique defensive strategy to stave off defeat.
Manager John Shoemaker inserted a fifth infielder, Zach McKinstry, who replaced left fielder Romer Cuadrado. With only two outfielders and five defenders crowded around the infield grass (three to the right of second), the Loons succeeded in cutting off a ground ball from Jose Quero and forcing out pinch runner Alexis Garcia at home.
Despite the out, the bases remained loaded, and after the Loons reset the defense with three outfielders, Zac Shepherd drew his third walk of the game to complete the victory.
The Loons return home for just their second game at Dow Diamond of the season on Friday at 6:05 p.m. as the Dayton Dragons arrive in town to begin a three-game series. Coverage can be heard on ESPN 100.9-FM, ESPN1009.com, Loons.com and on mobile devices using the TuneIn App.
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.