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Early Fort Wayne Fireworks Enough to Outlast Late Loons Surge

Loons score seven of final nine runs in game, but Fort Wayne had six in first two frames
June 4, 2022

MIDLAND, Mich. – For the second night in a row, the Great Lakes Loons dug themselves into an early hole at Dow Diamond. And for the second night in a row, the Fort Wayne TinCaps did enough early on Saturday night to win the game. The Loons made it close

MIDLAND, Mich. – For the second night in a row, the Great Lakes Loons dug themselves into an early hole at Dow Diamond.

And for the second night in a row, the Fort Wayne TinCaps did enough early on Saturday night to win the game.

The Loons made it close in the ninth, but stranded the tying run on third and the winning run on first as Fort Wayne defeats Great Lakes, 8-7, in front of 4,799 fans on Star Wars Night at Dow Diamond.

Fort Wayne (20-30) scored in the first inning for the third night in a row. On Thursday and Friday, they scored just one in the first, but Saturday was a different story. Three batters reached on free passes – two walks and a hit by pitch – which loaded the bases with one out for Lucas Dunn. He belted his second home run of the week, a grand slam, to put the TinCaps ahead, 4-0. Dunn was called up from Single-A Lake Elsinore to begin the week, and has a double and two homers in his first week in High-A.

The TinCaps, High-A partner of the San Diego Padres, got two more in the second inning, on a Jarryd Dale sacrifice fly and a Brandon Valenzuela RBI single. All six of the early runs were charged to Emmet Sheehan (L, 0-2), who pitched to two batters in the second frame but records just one inning of work – he did not record an out in the second. He allowed five earned runs on two hits, walking four.

Great Lakes (27-23) began its comeback effort in the third inning, which began with a double off the bat of Edwin Mateo. He scored on another two-bagger, this one from Eddys Leonard. After that, Diego Cartaya belted his first High-A homer over the left field wall to bring the Loons within three runs. Cartaya, the No. 1 prospect in the Dodgers’ organization, recorded his fourth hit of the week and his second for extra bases; the Venezuelan catcher is in his first week with the Loons.

Fort Wayne got one back in the fourth inning, when Olivier Basabe led off the frame with a solo blast. That was the only run allowed by Loons lefty Lael Lockhart, who was superb in his five innings out of the bullpen. Lockhart allowed just three hits and a walk over five frames, picking up four strikeouts along the way.

The Loons, High-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, continued to use the longball in the middle innings, specifically from Jose Ramos. The Panamanian outfielder launched deep flies in consecutive innings, a solo shot in the fourth and a two-run dinger in the fifth. He had two home runs coming into the game in his 16 games in High-A – he doubles that number with two more Saturday. His second brought the Loons within a run, 7-6.

After the second Ramos round-tripper, Fort Wayne pulled starter Jackson Wolf from the game. He tossed 4 2-3 innings, allowing six earned runs on eight hits, allowing two walks and striking out five.

The first Fort Wayne reliever was much more effective. Nick Thwaits (W, 2-2) spun 3 1-3 innings of perfect baseball, allowing just two hits and no walks while ringing up three punchouts. Six of the eight hits the Loons mustered against Wolf went for extra bases, but Thwaits held Great Lakes to a pair of singles.

The TinCaps got the run that would prove decisive in the top of the seventh inning, when Matthew Acosta hit a one-out solo home run, his second as a TinCap this season. That gave the visitors a crucial run of insurance, as they entered the final two frames with an 8-6 advantage.

The Loons made it interesting in the ninth inning. Jonny Deluca got aboard with a walk, and after an out, Cartaya walked as well. Aldrich De Jongh entered the game as a pinch runner for Cartaya at first. Vivas then hit a weak grounder back to the pitcher, who attempted to get an out at second base but threw the ball into center field. That allowed DeLuca to score and moved De Jongh to third. The Loons had runners on the corners with one out in the ninth inning, trailing 8-7, but Gabe Morales (SV, 1) locked it down to secure the win. Morales pitched the entire ninth, did not allow a hit, and his one run was unearned. He walked two and struck out two.

Fort Wayne takes a 3-2 lead in the series, and the Loons need a win Sunday at Dow Diamond to secure a series split. First pitch of the series finale is scheduled for 1:05 p.m., with pregame coverage beginning on ESPN 100.9-FM at 12:50 p.m. with the Loons On-Deck Circle, driven by Garber Chevrolet Midland. The starting pitching matchup is a rematch of Tuesday’s game: southpaw Noel Vela (2-2, 2.43 ERA) toes the rubber for the TinCaps, opposing Loons righty Kyle Hurt (3-1, 3.74 ERA). Kids eat free and run the bases after the game, presented by ESPN 100.9-FM. Plus, join us for a pregame kids’ baseball clinic. All your child needs is a ticket to the game and they can join the Loons to receive instruction on the field before the game. Tickets are going fast – get yours now at

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