Loons Fumble Four Errors in 4-3 Loss
LANSING, MI - Four defensive errors decided Thursday's contest at Jackson Field, as the Lansing Lugnuts (19-20) scored four unearned runs to edge the Great Lakes Loons (19-20), taking a one-game series lead into Friday with a 4-3 win. Great Lakes' Ryan Ward plated all three runs on a 2-for-5 performance, increasing his batting average to a team-best .286. Lansing's pitching effort benefited heavily on 14 combined strikeouts, headlined by eight from righty starter Richard Guasch. Brock Whittlesey (W, 1-0) relieved Guasch for one inning, allowing one run on one hit in the sixth inning. Four defensive errors for the Great Lakes defense tied a season-high. Cole Percival (L, 2-2) totaled three innings of relief work for Great Lakes, walking three batters and striking out two. Percival allowed an unearned run to score on two hits. In the final two innings, Loons right-hander Melvin Jimenez waived four batters on strikes in his eighth scoreless relief appearance of the year, tying a season-high.
Lansing reached the run column for the second time in three games this week, scoring their first unearned run on Loons righty Bobby Miller. In three frames, Miller allowed no earned runs on two hits, walking none and striking out four. In his combined 10 2/3 innings in the month of June, Miller has yet to allow an earned run to be scored or to surrender a walk, striking out 11 batters in three games.
Great Lakes responded with two of their own runs in the top of the third inning after Ryan January and Deacon Liput recorded back-to-back singles. The only hit for James Outman came one out later to load the bases on Guasch, who would strike out Andy Pages to put the Loons' scoring chance in jeopardy. Ward delivered his first run-scoring hit to plate January and Liput, giving the Loons their only lead of the night. Ward's second run-batted-in came in the top of the sixth, also with two outs, to score Outman from second.
Loons infielder Justin Yurchak rolled into Thursday with 11 hits in 19 at-bats over a four-game span, which was tied for the most in all of professional baseball in that span. Yurchak reached twice via base on balls in Thursday's contest and hitless in three at-bats. Recording five hits Thursday as a whole, Great Lakes ended a four-game streak of reaching double digits in the hit column, finishing 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position. Loons batters struck out 14 times.
Infielder Zac Ching ended Thursday hitless, striking out twice in four trips to the plate. Ching has tallied a hit in all but two games in the month of June, where his batting average has more than doubled from .116 in May to .265 in June. Failing to reach base Thursday, Ching ended a fifteen-game on-base streak, which began in the initial series of the season between Great Lakes and Lansing on May 26.
This week's series continues with the second half of a six-game stretch in Lansing beginning Friday night, first pitch scheduled for another 7:05 P.M. launch time from Jackson Field. Dodgers' 2020 second-rounder Landon Knack is given the task to help even the series Friday night in what will be his first start in a Loons uniform. In five innings of relief work, Knack carries a 1.40 ERA, striking out eight batters and walking two in two appearances. Opposing Knack will be Lansing's Reid Birlingmair in his seventh start of the year. In 28 complete innings, Birlingmair has allowed 14 earned runs on 27 hits with 23 punchouts and 15 walks. Friday's game can be streamed live on ESPN 100.9 FM, with coverage beginning at 6:35 P.M. EDT.
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.
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