Captains fall 7-5 to Hot Rods
BOWLING GREEN — The Lake County Captains (8-9) came up on the short end Sunday night as their late inning rally was not enough to overcome the hot Bowling Green (10-7) start. The Captains could not put enough runs on the board to overcome an early 7-1 deficit and eventually fell to the Hot Rods 7-5.
The early frames seemed like an exact replica of Saturday night’s contest with the Captains only able to muster one run on two hits. Trailing 7-1, Lake County finally began to turn things around in the top half of the seventh inning.
Facing Hot Rod reliever Stayton Thomas, center fielder Zach MacPhee grounded his third double inside the first base bag to lead off the seventh. After a wild pitch and a walk surrendered to shortstop Nick Bartolone, second baseman Jose Ramirez jumpstarted the comeback with an RBI single to center field, scoring MacPhee. Despite a strikeout by third baseman Todd Hankins, the Captains loaded the bases for designated hitter Jake Lowery with the team’s second walk of the frame.
Lowery hit a double play ball to the first baseman, but an errant return throw by shortstop Juniel Querecuto allowed Bartolone and Ramirez to touch home plate. However, three runs would be all the Captains could manage in the frame as left fielder Bryson Myles grounded out to the pitcher for the third out. Yet, Lake County headed into the bottom half of the seventh trailing just 7-4.
The Captains picked up where they left off in the top half of the eighth, propelled by a one out double by Leonardo Castillo, who moved across the diamond to make the start at first base. Once again, the never say die Lake County squad was aided by a Hot Rod error, this time by second baseman Ryan Brett, which allowed MacPhee to reach first base safely.
Nick Bartolone stepped to the plate representing the tying run with runners on the corners. However, the shortstop could not produce, sending a run-scoring ground out to third base. With Lake County within two runs, Jose Ramirez grounded out to the pitcher to end the threat.
The Captains went quietly in the ninth inning against Bowling Green closer Austin Hubbard, who retired the side in order to pick up his 12th save.
Lake County starter Elvis Araujo (3-7, 4.86) struggled to find his command early on, morphing an already solid Bowling Green offense into a run scoring machine.
The onslaught started in the first inning when the Hot Rods added a walk to two base hits to plate their first two runs. This came after Lake County notched a first inning tally on a Lowery RBI single that scored Hankins, who reached on his seventh double of the year.
The big left-hander’s difficulty finding the strike zone, coupled with the aggressive base running of the Hot Rods opened up the gates in the bottom of the second.
Araujo walked left fielder Taylor Motter to open the frame, but he was erased trying to steal second by catcher Patric Tolentino. Motter would prove to be the only runner Tolentino gunned down all ballgame, a stat that would come back to haunt the Captains.
The bases did not remain empty for long. Araujo walked the next two Bowling Green hitters to put runners on first and second. With Brett at the plate, the Hot Rods attempted a double-steal. Tolentino fired the ball to third, but his throw sailed into left field, allowing one run to score and the second runner to advance to third on the catcher’s first error. Bowling Green would tack on its fourth run of the evening when Brett hit a sacrifice fly to right field.
After a silent third inning, Araujo’s woes continued in the bottom of the fourth. He allowed a leadoff single to Motter, who promptly made up for getting thrown out in the second by stealing his 14th base of the season. He came around to score the fifth run of the game on a double over the head of MacPhee by third baseman Tyler Goeddel, who advanced to third on a wild pitch. Araujo then walked Brett, who stole his 31st bag of the year to put runners on second and third. An RBI ground-out made the score 6-1 Bowling Green after four innings.
That would be it for Araujo, who lasted just four frames while giving up six runs on four hits striking out two batters. However, his control problems were costly, as the left hander surrendered seven walks and threw two wild pitches.
The Araujo-Tolentino battery also struggled to cut down opposing base runners. The Hot Rods stole five bases off the duo, including two for Brett.
Rob Nixon came on in relief of Araujo and tossed four innings to finish the game. The right-hander was solid, giving up a run on two base hits while walking one and striking out a pair.
The walks, eight in total allowed by Captains’ pitching were the difference in the ballgame. On the offensive side, Lake County matched the Hot Rods with six hits apiece and committed just one error to Bowling Green’s three. Yet, the final tally of 7-5 showed that control problems were a deciding factor in the Captains coming up on the short end Sunday night.
The Lake County offense faced its share of difficulties against Bowling Green starting pitcher Parker Markel (4-5, 4.75). The Tampa Bay Rays’ 14th overall prospect lived up to the hype Sunday night, giving up just two hits in five innings. He did allow one run to score, but also fanned five Captain hitters in five frames of work.
Lake County will attempt to avoid being swept out of the state of Kentucky when it battles Bowling Green in the final game of the three game series, which is slated to begin at 8:05 pm on Monday night. The Captains will hand the ball to All-Star right-hander Joe Colon (7-8, 3.01) in an attempt to fend off the sweep. However, the task ahead is daunting because Bowling Green will send Roberto Gomez (8-2, 2.93) to the hill, hoping to win his ninth contest of the year.