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Ward Homers Twice in 9-3 Win

June 18, 2021 - High-A Central League (High-A Central) - Great Lakes Loons News Release


LANSING, MI - The Great Lakes Loons defeated the Lansing Lugnuts at Jackson Field Friday night, 9-3 the final score. Following up a Thursday night performance where he scored all three runs, Loons outfielder Ryan Ward scored six in the first two innings on Friday. All six runs were plated on two three-run homeruns for Ward off Lansing's Reid Birlingmair (L, 1-4), who had only allowed one homerun in 28 prior innings. Carson Taylor finished with a game-high three hits, his fourth multi-hit performance in June. Since the month began, Taylor is averaging .333 at a pace of 14 hits in 42 at-bats.

Doing what they do best, the Loons scored early in Friday's win, pushing seven runs across the plate in the first two innings. The top of the first saw James Outman single and Andy Pages walk for Ward to bring them all in with his fifth homerun of the year, all before an out was recorded. Ward's sixth homer this season came a frame later when Outman was hit by a Birlingmair pitch and Pages singled, extending the lead to 7-1 into the third. Ward is the only Loon to record a multi-homer night on the year, and has done so twice now this season. Against West Michigan on June 5, Ward recorded his first multi-HR performance with a three RBI night.

Friday's contest was the first professional start for Dodgers 2020 second-round selection Landon Knack, who allowed one run on four hits in 3 1/3 innings, walking none and striking out two. Austin Drury (W, 3-1) relieved Knack after recording the first out in the fourth with 1 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball, both walking and striking out a batter. Friday's win required four Loon relievers, including newly-added Hunter Speer who began the season in Double-A Tulsa. Speer logged six innings through six appearances with the Drillers, tallying eight strikeouts and ten walks.

Lansing's Shohei Tomioka shined, recording the final four innings with seven strikeouts and no walks, allowing one run on four hits. Great Lakes tagged the Lugnuts starter Birlingmair with seven earned runs on six hits in his three innings, walking and striking out two batters. Fellow righty Brandon Withers allowed one run in the middle two innings, walking two and striking out three.

Loons infielder Justin Yurchak contributed a 2-for-4 night as the sixth hitter on Austin Chubb's card, making it his fifth multi-hit performance in his last six games. Yurchak is seeing improvement in June with a .386 batting average in 12 games in the month. Eight hits for Yurchak in four games in the Lansing series is a team-high.

Now through 40 games, the Loons have scored 215 runs, second-most in the High-A Central behind Quad Cities (226). The first three innings are most notably productive to that statistic, producing 101 of the 215 runs. Great Lakes has plated 40 runs in the first inning alone in 40 games this season, with 26 in the second and 35 in the third.

Great Lakes continues to draw the curtain on what's been a 12-game road trip away from Dow Diamond, last playing in Midland on June 6. Saturday night's contest welcomes a pair of right-handers to the bump between Great Lakes' Clayton Beeter and Lansing Lugnut Colin Peluse. Beeter makes his second appearance of the series with his tenth start on the year Friday night, after allowing a run on one hit and a walk in Tuesday's 9-7 loss. Through 9 2/3 innings on the year, Beeter has struck out 14 batters and walked five, allowing seven earned runs on ten hits. Lansing's Peluse holds the third-highest ERA amongst Lugnuts pitchers (5.40) in 26 2/3 innings, with batters averaging .271 against him this season. First pitch of game five of a six-game series can be listened to live on ESPN 100.9 FM, first pitch scheduled from Jackson Field at 7:05 P.M. EDT.

The Loons anticipated return to Dow Diamond comes on Tuesday, June 22 to begin a six-game stretch against the Lake County Captains at 7:05 P.M. A studded promotional schedule week begins Tuesday with Small Business Tuesdays, presented by Midland Business Alliance, in addition to Hometown Heroes every Tuesday night, presented by Hemlock Semiconductor. Every Wednesday at Dow Diamond are Bark in the Park nights, presented by Creation Coffee. This Wednesday is Great Lakes' monthly Camels Takeover as we celebrate Hump Day, presented by Fisher Companies.

Thirsty Thursday, presented by Miller Lite, is That 70's Night at Dow Diamond as the Loons throw it back to the decade of disco! Great Lakes breaks out their second Dodgers Bluesday on Friday, presented by MidMichigan Health, paying tribute to Dodgers legend Fernando Valenzuela. As always, fans can expect a great selection of discounted food specials for Feast Fridays, presented by Isabella Bank. The Loons also celebrate the contributions of Hispanic and Latino players to the game of baseball with Latino Loons Night! Fans can enjoy a postgame Fireworks Loontacular on Saturday, presented by Farm Bureau Insurance. Rounding out the six-game series, kids eat free and run the bases postgame every Sunday at Dow Diamond with a 1:05 P.M. series finale, presented by Serra Toyota of Saginaw. A full look at the 2021 Promotional Schedule can be found at Loons.com.

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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