Captains offense is flat in 4-2 loss
EASTLAKE- The Lake County Captains (4-4) could not provide a precursor to Friday night’s fireworks at Classic Park. The club continued its offensive struggles, mustering just two runs in a 4-2 defeat at the hands of the West Michigan Whitecaps (4-4).
West Michigan began the scoring in the top of the second inning off of Lake County starter Joe Colon (6-8, 3.17). After retiring the first two hitters on an infield groundout and strikeout, the right-hander allowed a double to shortstop Brandon Loy. Right fielder Jeff Holm followed the double with an RBI single, his 26th of the season, to give West Michigan a 1-0 advantage.
From there, Colon continued his strong showing on the season, proving why he was selected to the Midwest League All-Star team. In 5.2 innings, Colon limited the Whitecaps to two runs on six hits, striking out four and using his devastating sinker to induce eight ground outs. His only other blemish came in his last inning of work when West Michigan leadoff hitter Luis Castillo banged a triple into the right field corner and later came around to score.
Offensively, Lake County had difficulty mounting any sort of rally against Whitecap starter Tommy Collier (6-5, 2.29). The right-hander, who entered Friday night’s contest with fifth in the Midwest League in ERA, scattered six hits in seven innings of work.
“Give them credit,” Captains manager Dave Wallace said of West Michigan’s pitching staff. “They came out and pitched a good ball game.”
With the win, Collier improved to 3-1 on the season against Lake County. His start on Friday, however, was not even his best effort against the Captains. The right-hander, who had successful Tommy John Surgery during his days at San Jacinto College North, tossed a complete-game shutout on May 30 against Lake County that earned him Midwest League Player of the Week honors.
The lone Captains run off the West Michigan starter came in the sixth inning. Shortstop Francisco Lindor, batting from the left side of the dish, drove a line drive double that split the gap in left-center field and an error by the center fielder allowed him to advance to third on the play. Center fielder Luigi Rodriguez notched his 30th RBI of the campaign when he grounded out to short to score Lindor.
The Captains attempted to score first when they mounted a two-out rally in the bottom of the first inning. After Rodriguez walked, right fielder Jordan Smith, who finished the evening 2-4, roped a double to the wall in left field. With two outs, manager Dave Wallace aggressively wind milled Rodriguez home, but a strong relay by the West Michigan defense got the ball to catcher Gabriel Purroy in plenty of time. The Lake County center fielder attempted to bull Purroy over at the dish, but came up unsuccessful and was tagged for the final out of the frame.
The Captains recorded eight hits on the evening, tallying three extra base knocks. Aside from the three doubles, Lake County only managed to advance one runner past second base.
Their second run of the ball game came off of West Michigan closer Dan Bennett. Rodriguez led off the frame with a double down the right field line and was later batted-in on an RBI groundout by catcher Alex Monsalve. Bennett picked up his tenth save of the season for the Whitecaps.
One of the only positives on the night for Lake County was the work out of the bullpen by reliever Rob Nixon. Nixon tossed 3.1 innings of solid relief to finish the game after coming on to get the final out in the sixth inning. He gave up two unearned runs on three hits and struck out three, lowering his ERA to 2.85.
“I am really happy with how those guys are coming in and attacking hitters,” said Wallace of the way his bullpen has pitched this season.
With the loss, Lake County falls to .500 just eight games into the second half. The game took just 2:22 and featured Thursday night’s starting pitcher and Bachelor impersonator Elvis Araujo presenting ten ladies with roses as a part of a ‘Ladies Night’ promotion. The post-game fireworks show rounded out the night for the small Friday crowd of just 3,831 fans.
Lake County will attempt to win the series with West Michigan on Saturday night with the game slated to being at 7:00 pm. All-Star right-hander Cody Anderson (4-4, 2.99) will make his second start of the second half for Lake County. In his previous start against Dayton, Anderson, operating on a strict innings limit, tossed three scoreless frames giving up just two hits and fanning four Dragon hitters. He will face off against right-hander Marcelo Carreno (3-4, 3.33) for the Whitecaps.