MIDLAND, Mich. – A late blast for the Great Lakes Loons (Los Angeles Dodgers affiliate) propelled them over the Fort Wayne TinCaps on Tuesday night at Dow Diamond in the series opener, 5-3.
The Loons (44-35) opened scoring in the series in the bottom of the first after a 1 hour, 18 minute rain delay, when lead-off hitter Ryan Ward doubled to straight-away center on the first pitch from TinCaps starter Moises Lugo. He then came in to score on a sacrifice fly hit to center by Great Lakes right fielder Andy Pages.
In the second, Great Lakes extended their lead to 3-0 with a two-run home run from second baseman Eddys Leonard in his High-A debut. The blast was the Loons’ 118th as a team this year, which leads the rest of the league by more than 15.
The TinCaps (36-43) cut the deficit to two in the top of the third, when left fielder Grant Little doubled to lead off the inning and scored on a single from center fielder Agustin Ruiz. The RBI was Ruiz’s team-leading 53rd of the season.
While Lugo struck out seven Loons hitters and walked just one across his five innings of work, Great Lakes starter Hyun-Il Choi stole the show on the mound. In his High-A debut, the 21-year-old native of Korea struck out eight and didn’t allow a single free pass. Of the 74 pitches Choi threw, 61 were for strikes (82 percent).
In the seventh, the TinCaps got to the Great Lakes bullpen with a sacrifice fly hit by Little. An inning later, right fielder Tirso Ornelas delivered in the clutch for the second time on the road trip. He belted his third home run of the year to right field. Both of his home runs on the road have come in the eighth inning. Last Tuesday at Lansing, his two-run shot gave Fort Wayne a 3-1 lead. This Tuesday, his solo blast tied the game.
In the bottom of the eighth, a two-out error extended the game, and Loons center fielder Jonny DeLuca made the TinCaps pay with a two-out, two-strike, two-run home run to left field that became the difference.
Next Game: Wednesday, August 4 @ Great Lakes (7:05 p.m.)
· – Fort Wayne Probable Starter: RHP Connor Lehmann
· – Great Lakes Probable Starter: RHP Cole Percival