Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

De Jongh Hits First Walk-Off Grand Slam in Loons History

Loons come back from seven-run deficit to win fourth straight series, third straight game
(Robert Spears Photography)
July 3, 2022

MIDLAND, Mich. – The Dayton Dragons had a 7-0 lead at one point in the game, but in the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday at Dow Diamond, the Loons trailed by just a run, with the bases loaded and two outs. Aldrich De Jongh stood in, in his second

MIDLAND, Mich. – The Dayton Dragons had a 7-0 lead at one point in the game, but in the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday at Dow Diamond, the Loons trailed by just a run, with the bases loaded and two outs.

Aldrich De Jongh stood in, in his second game at the plate since late May, looking for his first hit since coming off the injured list.

With a high drive to deep right-center field, De Jongh blasted a walk-off grand slam, the first in Loons history, to give the Loons an 11-8 win. Great Lakes has now won three straight games and its fourth straight series.

Dayton (43-32, 4-5 second half) scored three runs in each of the first two frames. In the first inning, Daniel Vellojin hit his fourth homer of the week, a three-run blast. Jose Torres led off the second inning with a solo homer before an RBI double from Quin Cotton, who scored on a later groundout. After two innings, the Dragons had a 6-0 lead.

The Dragons, High-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, would tally another in the top of the third inning. Justice Thompson walked, moved to third on a single, and scored on a wild pitch to give Dayton a 7-0 lead.

The Loons (47-28, 7-2) scored in the third inning for the first time. De Jongh led off the frame with a walk, then Diego Cartaya singled. Jorbit Vivas then ripped a double down the right field line to drive in De Jongh. After a second out in the frame, Jonny Deluca smacked a two-run single, and the Loons trailed, 7-3.

Great Lakes, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ High-A partner, got another run back in the fourth frame. Eddys Leonard was hit by a pitch, advanced to third on a pair of wild pitches, then scored on a Vivas sacrifice fly to pull the Loons within three runs, still down 7-4.

After a strenuous three innings, the Loons bullpen settled in. Jacob Cantleberry faced the minimum in a scoreless fourth inning, pitching around a hit batsman, in his first appearance in three weeks after a spell on the development list. He was followed by Cole Percival, who tossed two perfect frames with a trio of strikeouts.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Loons looked like they might finally complete the comeback. Vivas singled, as did Alex De Jesus, then DeLuca doubled to score Vivas, just missing a game-tying home run. The Loons still had a good scoring chance, trailing 7-5 at that point, with two men in scoring position and just one out, but couldn’t push any more across.

Dayton got the run back in the top of the eighth on a solo shot from Torres, his second homer of the game, to take an 8-5 lead.

That led to the ninth inning. In the top half, Ryan Sublette (W, 4-1) spun around a hit batsman to strike out the final two batters and keep the deficit where it was. Sublette finished with 1 1-3 innings, allowing no hits nor runs and punching out three.

In the bottom of the ninth, Dayton sent Donovan Benoit (L, 3-3) to the mound, who had previously secured eight saves in as many opportunities. Kekai Rios led off the inning with a single on Benoit’s very first pitch. After a strikeout, De Jesus singled to put two men on for DeLuca. For the second at-bat in a row, DeLuca just missed a game-tying home run, smacking a double off the left field wall, scoring both baserunners and bringing the Loons within a run. After that, Jose Ramos walked, then Imanol Vargas singled to load the bases with one out. Another strikeout for Benoit brought De Jongh to the plate with two down, setting the table for the first walk-off grand slam in franchise history.

For De Jongh, it was his fourth home run of the season, his first in over two months. For the Loons, it was their fourth grand slam of the season and their third in the last four games, as Vargas hit a grand slam on Thursday and Friday. Four is the fewest games between three grand slams in Loons history, surpassing the three grand slams in nine games the Loons hit last season.

The comeback win for Great Lakes gives the team its fourth series win in a row, and its eighth set win in the last ten series. The Loons now go on the road to the state capital, taking on the Lansing Lugnuts (27-47, 2-6) at Jackson Field beginning Monday at 7:05 p.m. Pregame coverage begins on ESPN 100.9-FM at 6:50 p.m. with the Loons On-Deck Circle, driven by Garber Chevrolet Midland.

The Great Lakes Loons have been a 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