Dodgers High-A affiliate Great Lakes was knocked out of the Midwest League playoffs on Friday night, dropping a second straight game at home to the Lake County captains (Guardians), losing 6-5 at home in of Game 3 at the Dow Diamond in Midland, Michigan.
Lake County won the East Division title against Great Lakes, two games to one, with the road team winning all three games in the series. The best-of-three championship round begins Sunday at the home of Western Division champion South Bend Cubs.
Midwest League Eastern Division Series
The Great Lakes fell behind early Friday and never recovered.
Lake County jumped on Loons starter Kendall Williams with a first-inning three-run homer by right fielder Alexfri Planez, and chased Williams in the fourth. Planez had four hits on Friday, including a double and two singles.
Williams walked away with two runners and a retiree, and the two were cashed in with a brace from Ben Harris, the batting artist who was named to the Arizona Fall League roster on Friday. Harris struck out four of his 11 batters faced, but allowed three doubles in 2⅓ innings, the last chasing him with two outs in the sixth inning with a two-run deficit.
Loons designated hitter Imanol Vargas hit .268/.404/.467 with 18 homers and 146 wRC+ this season, leading Great Lakes in added base hits (39), on-base percentage, OPS, total bases (178), and walks (80) this season. He also led in strikeouts, sniffing out 30.9% of his plate appearances. He had 24 strikeouts in a hellish 0-for-41 skid that extended into the fourth inning Friday, when he finally turned things around.
Vargas threw a three-run home run to pull Great Lakes within a point, his 20th of the year, counting the regular season.
The captains had hits in seven of the first eight innings, but great pitching from Ryan Sublette (2⅓ innings, three strikeouts) and Jeff Belge (outside in the ninth) kept Great Lakes close.
But Great Lakes couldn’t muster any late attacks, the last nine batters retired in order to end the game.
The Loons won Game 1 of the series on the road behind a Damon Keith home run and a stellar pitching quartet led by River Ryan that combined for 15 strikeouts and no walks. In Game 2, Lake County was the pitcher, allowing just three hits in a 2-0 win at Great Lakes.
It was the Loons’ sixth playoff appearance in the past nine seasons and the Great Lakes’ eighth playoff appearance since joining the Dodgers in 2007.