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Captains win opener of crucial series with Hawks

Captains win opener of crucial series with Hawks
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EASTLAKE – The Lake County Captains led off a crucial four-game series against the South Bend Silver Hawks with a 9-3 comeback victory on Wednesday evening.

Right-hander Mason Radeke (6-6, 3.52) manned the mound for the Captains against South Bend left-hander Keith Hessler (2-2, 2.49).

The Silver Hawks swooped in on Radeke right off the bat as they plated two runs in the first inning. Centerfielder Chris Ellison led off with a walk and advanced to second with two outs as first baseman Matt Helm was plunked with a pitch. Third baseman Ryan Court followed with a triple over the head of the centerfielder to score both runners, giving South Bend the lead.

After a scoreless second, the Silver Hawks struck again as right fielder Tom Belza laced a one-out double to right and scored on a single up the middle by Court to boost South Bend ahead 3-0.

The Captains commenced their comeback by earning two in the third. Second baseman Jose Ramirez projected some of his power with his second home run of the season in the form of a solo shot deep to left. With two out, designated hitter Jordan Smith doubled into center and scored as first baseman Jerrud Sabourin singled to pick up his 60th RBI of the season.

The runs carried over to the fourth inning for the Captains as left fielder Zach MacPhee drew a two-out walk. MacPhee advanced to third on a single to left off the bat of third baseman Yhoxian Medina and both scored as Ramirez picked up two more RBIs with a ground-rule double down the left field line.

Meanwhile, Radeke settled in to toss a scoreless fourth and fifth inning before he was replaced with right-hander Joshua Nervis. Radeke’s final line posted as five innings pitched, surrendering three runs on four hits, one walk and six strikeouts.

Nervis made his debut with the Captains after spending 13 games with the Arizona Indians. Nervis was drafted by the Indians in the 38th round of the 2012 draft out of Sonoma State University in California.

Hessler was also pulled after five innings for the Silver Hawks, ending his evening with four runs allowed on eight hits, one walk and a pair of strikeouts. Hessler was replaced with Kable Hogben to start the sixth.

The Captains pounced on Hogben in the seventh as Ramirez continued his offensive output with a lead-off single, which was followed with a single by shortstop Francisco Lindor. Ramirez scored on a fielding error by the second baseman which allowed Smith to reach base. After Sabourin was intentionally walked, right fielder Bryson Myles made Hogben pay as he smacked a single into center to plate two more runs. That sealed Hogben’s fate as the right-hander was replaced with Alex Capaul. Capaul converted the first two outs of the inning before MacPhee doubled to center to score Sabourin and Myles, advancing the Captains to the 9-3 lead.

Nervis showed no nerves in his debut as he retained his composure through four innings of scoreless ball, yielding just two hits and a walk while striking out three to hold the Captains’ 9-3 victory.

Nervis said he kept a simple approach as he toed the rubber for his debut with the team. “Throw strikes,” he said. “Just throw strikes – that was all that was going through my mind. Make good pitches and get outs.”

With the Midwest League playoffs looming in early September, whispers of making a push to the postseason have floated amongst the Captains’  clubhouse.

“That’s why I was sent down here, for the playoffs,” Nervis said. “I did pretty good in AZL and they just needed a guy to throw strikes. I love it here, I love the atmosphere. The players are great and I’m out of that hot weather in Arizona.”

Though the season is drawing to a close, development is still the primary focus for the team. Captains’ manager Dave Wallace noted that the team’s success in the second half can be accredited to the team’s growth.

“It’s part of these guys growing up,” Wallace said. “The more you play, the more you realize it isn’t over until that last out’s made. When you play this many games, you see a lot of things and they’ve seen games where we come back, people have come back against us. Especially at this level, you’re never out of it.”

Next, the Captains and Silver Hawks will take a double-dose of baseball as they square off in a double-header on Thursday. First, the Captains will turn to lefty Elvis Araujo (6-9, 5.05) to take on South Bend lefty Andrew Barboas (2-3, 4.50). Righty Cody Anderson (4-6, 3.18) will take the bump for the Captains to start the second game as he counters Silver Hawks’ right-hander Jesse Darrah (8-5, 4.60).

The Captains currently hold sole possession of second place in the second half Midwest League wild card race. The team holds a half-game lead over the Fort Wayne TinCaps as the South Bend Silver Hawks are now three games behind the Captains.

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.

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