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Playoff Bound: Loons Come Back in Eighth Inning to Punch Their Ticket

June 22, 2022 - Midwest League (MWL) - Great Lakes Loons News Release

On Wednesday night at Parkview Field in Fort Wayne, Ind., the Great Lakes Loons trailed the Fort Wayne TinCaps at two separate points in the contest.

The way the Loons are playing right now, that did not matter.

In the eighth inning, Ismael Alcantara delivered a two-out, two-run single to give the Loons the lead for good, as they defeat the TinCaps, 4-2, for their seventh straight victory.

When the Loons left the field, they hadn't yet clinched the playoff spot. They waited at Parkview Field until 11:05 p.m., when the Dayton Dragons lost the second game of a doubleheader to the Lake County Captains, 3-0, officially sending the Loons to the playoffs for the sixth time in the last nine seasons.

Great Lakes (40-25) has now won 12 of its last 13 games. When the run started, the Loons were 8 1/2 games back with 14 left in the first half. Now, with just one game left, the Loons have completed the comeback to win the first-half Eastern Division title. The Loons are the second team in the Midwest League to reach 40 wins, and the first in the East.

Fort Wayne (26-39) opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning, when Corey Rosier led off the frame with a solo homer, his fourth blast of the season, to put the TinCaps in front, 1-0.

The Loons, High-A partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, evened the score in the fourth inning, also on a leadoff home run. Jose Ramos blasted his seventh with the Loons, and his 13th of 2022 overall, to tie the game at one apiece.

It didn't take long for the TinCaps, the San Diego Padres' High-A affiliate, to respond. In the bottom of the fifth inning, two singles led off the frame, a groundout moved both over before Robert Hassell drove a sacrifice fly to centerfield to give Fort Wayne the lead back, 2-1.

Loons starter Nick Nastrini finished the frame to wrap up his start, and it was a good one. The right-hander tossed five innings and allowed two runs, both earned, on five hits and two walks. Nastrini struck out seven TinCaps in his outing.

The TinCaps also had a good start from their righty, Ryan Bergert. He spun four frames of one-run ball, allowing six hits and a walk and striking out six batters.

The Loons took the lead for good in the eighth inning. Imanol Vargas drew a two-out walk before Jonny DeLuca doubled to put two men in scoring position. After a second out, Alcantara came through with a single into the left-center field gap, scoring both runners and giving the Loons the 3-2 lead.

Great Lakes added a run of insurance in the ninth inning. Alex De Jesus doubled to lead off the frame, then advanced to third, then home, on a pair of groundouts. That gave the Loons the final score of 4-2.

After Nastrini's exit, Fort Wayne couldn't muster a hit against the Loons' bullpen. Right-hander Ryan Sublette (W, 3-1) allowed just a hit batsman in his 2 1-3 innings, while striking out three. He made way for southpaw Julian Smith (SV, 2), whose lone baserunner was a two-out walk in the ninth inning. Smith racked up three punchouts in his five-out save.

The Loons clinch the first-half division title with one game to play in the half. Even if they lose Thursday and Dayton wins, bringing the two teams to an identical record, the Loons hold the tiebreaker by virtue of their 5-1 record against the Dragons so far.

Great Lakes ends the first half Thursday against the TinCaps at Parkview Field, looking to extend a seven-game winning streak, with first pitch at 7:05 p.m. Coverage begins on ESPN 100.9-FM at 6:50 p.m. with the Loons On-Deck Circle, driven by Garber Chevrolet Midland. The Loons will have right-hander Kyle Hurt (4-1, 2.56 ERA) on the bump, opposing southpaw Noel Vela (3-4, 3.40 ERA).

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