Captains' season ends with loss in decisive game three
EASTLAKE – The Lake County Captains’ 2012 season came to a close as they fell 13-6 to the Fort Wayne TinCaps in the third game of the Midwest League Division championship on Monday.
Right-hander Cody Anderson (4-7, 3.20) received the nod to start for the Captains to counter Fort Wayne righty James Needy (1-0, 3.60).
The TinCaps struck first in the form of a lead-off home run by designated hitter Lee Orr to start the second inning.
Three more crossed the dish for Fort Wayne in the third inning as the TinCaps’ bats found ways to make solid contact. Right fielder Yeison Asencio led off with a single to third and first baseman Travis Whitmore reached on a bunt single. With one out, catcher Austin Hedges blooped a single to left to load the bases. Cue left fielder Kyle Gaedele, who quickly emptied the bags with a line drive into center, giving the TinCaps the 4-0 lead.
After second baseman Tyler Stubblefield reached on a fielding error by shortstop Francisco Lindor, Anderson’s day came to an end, sealing his final line at 2.2 innings pitched, allowing four runs on six hits and one walk while striking out three. Anderson was replaced with right-hander Nick Pasquale, who converted the final out of the inning.
The Captains came right back in their half of the third to tie the game. Catcher Alex Lavisky got things going with a lead-off ground-rule double before advancing to third on a wild pitch. With one out, second baseman Jose Ramirez doubled to score Lavisky for the Captains’ first run of the evening. Lindor followed with a single to right and Ramirez was thrown out at the plate, but back-to-back hits by right fielder Jordan Smith and first baseman Jerrud Sabourin brought Lindor home.
Designated hitter Jake Lowery tied the game with a double to plate both runners, ending the evening for Needy. Needy’s final line posted at 2.2 innings pitched, relinquishing four runs on seven hits and a walk while fanning five. Needy was replaced with righty Colin Rea, who pitched the TinCaps out of the inning without further damage.
After two scoreless innings from Pasquale, the TinCaps released the flood gates. Gaedele started the rally with a lead-off double and Stubblefield drew a walk before centerfielder Travis Jankowski singled on a bunt to fill the bags again. Shortstop Jace Peterson followed with a double to plate two before Asencio singled to add two more. With one out, Asencio advanced to third on a fielding error that allowed Orr to reach base. Hedges scored Asencio on a single and Gaedele drew a two-out walk to load the bases for the third time to end Pasquale’s outing.
Pasquale departed the game after tossing three innings, during which he allowed six runs (four earned) on five hits and three walks. He was replaced with lefty Danny Jimenez, who surrendered one more run in the inning as Stubblefield single to score Orr for the TinCaps’ sixth run of the inning.
Jimenez remained in the game through the seventh inning, where Fort Wayne found one more in the form of a two-out solo shot to right by first baseman Travis Whitmore.
Joshua Nervis entered the game to start the eighth for Lake County before the Captains managed to tack on two more runs in their half of the inning. Lowery sent a solo home run over the right field wall for his second hit of the night and centerfielder Tyler Naquin singled and scored on a base hit by Leonardo Castillo, who pinch-hit for Wendle.
The TinCaps weren’t finished in the ninth as Stubblefield singled and Asencio homered deep to left, advancing the TinCaps to the 13-6 lead.
The Captains refused to sink without a fight as Smith and Sabourin drew back-to-back one-out walks, but two straight pop ups became the final at-bats for the Captains’ season, ending their evening in a 13-6 loss.
Captains’ manager Dave Wallace noted that the season-ending loss hurt, but the organization’s overall goal for the team was accomplished as every player improved over the course of the season.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our guys,” Wallace said. “They’ve done everything that we’ve asked them to do. They’ve played hard, they prepared well and they put themselves in great position to get here and in great position to forward their careers and get closer to Cleveland.”
Wallace noted that the stars simply weren’t aligned for the Captains on Monday night.
“Tonight’s game just didn’t go our way,” he said. “We had some balls that fell in that could’ve gone our way. We obviously didn’t make plays as well. Hats off to the TinCaps, they’ve got some great arms over there that held our offense at bay for the most part, but I couldn’t be more proud of our guys.”
Captains’ starter Cody Anderson wasn’t discouraged by the rough loss and pointed out the importance of the experience he gained over the season.
“It was a tough game tonight, they were out there battling and we were battling,” Anderson said. “Sometimes they get the upper-hand, sometimes we get the upper-hand and altogether, the season’s just been incredible. It was a great learning experience and it’s helped me out a lot.”
Catcher Alex Lavisky agreed that the team had a tremendous year with plenty of talent to be excited about.
“It was definitely a good year,” he said. “We definitely had great team chemistry the whole year. We had the best coaching staff in the league, the best players in the league. There’s tons of talent on this team and making the playoffs was the best. Everyone had a good time all year.”
Fort Wayne advances to the final round of the Midwest League playoffs, where they will face the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. The Captains end the 2012 season with a 74-70 overall record as they went 2-2 in the postseason. They’ll start the 2013 season on April 4 against the Lansing Lugnuts.
Stephanie is a crime and general assignment reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio. She’s an alumna of Cleveland State University with a degree in Journalism and Promotional Communication. You can follow her on Twitter @7thInningSteph.