MIDLAND, Mich. - It wasn't quite four hours, but the four-game series with the Great Lakes Loons and Fort Wayne TinCaps got started with the longest game of the season for the Loons. However, after inserting two position players to pitch in extra innings, the TinCaps ultimately prevailed 7-5 in 11 innings on Thursday.
Three runs in the 11th off Loons catcher-turned-pitcher Stevie Berman was the undoing. It wasn't for a lack of effort, however, as Berman tossed a scoreless 10th in the previous inning. Jorge Ona drove in the first run off Berman, while Hudson Potts pushed the TinCaps over the hump with a two-run single off infielder Luis Paz, with those runs being charged to Berman.
Both starting pitchers dazzled in their starts for their respective teams. Devin Smeltzer navigated four innings not allowing run on just two hits for the Loons. The lefty walked one better and had a season-high six strikeouts.
In his second year in a Fort Wayne uniform, Logan Allen had his strongest outing of the season thus far pitching five no-hit innings and striking out seven batters. The 19-year-old went 3-4 with a 3.33 earned run average in 15 games (11 starts) for the TinCaps last year. He was also part of the San Diego Padres trade that sent Craig Kimbrel to the Boston Red Sox in November 2015.
Cody Thomas was able break through for the Loons in the 6th inning after the TinCaps had taken a 2-0 lead an inning earlier. With Allen out of the game and Emmanuel Ramirez on in relief, Thomas barreled a pitch over the right-field fence for his third home run of the season. With newcomer Gavin Lux scoring on an error earlier in frame, Great Lakes lead 3-2.
Despite the Loons adding an insurance run in the 7th with a Saige Jenco single scoring Gage Green, the TinCaps put two runs up on the board in the 8th inning off relievers Christian Stolo and Vinny Santarsiero to make it 4-4, forcing extra innings.
The Loons and TinCaps will continue their four-game series in Midland on Friday night. Right-hander A.J. Alexy (0-0, 1.59 ERA) is slated to make his third start of the season for Great Lakes. The 19-year-old has accumulated nine strikeouts in just 5.2 innings pitched so far this year. From the away dugout Jerry Keel (1-0, 2.38) will take the hill for Fort Wayne. The game can be heard on ESPN 100.9-FM beginning at 5:35 p.m. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m.
The 2016 Midwest League Champions and hosts of the 2017 MWL All-Star Game presented by GoGreat.com have been a Single-A partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers since the team's inception in 2007. For tickets and more information about the Great Lakes 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.