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Colon domininant in Captains victory

Colon domininant in Captains victory
July 15, 2012
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EASTLAKE- All the Lake County Captains (11-11) needed on Saturday night was a little time to stretch. Lake County did their damage after the seventh inning stretch, putting four runs on the board in the bottom of the seventh to defeat the Beloit Snappers (10-12) by a score of 5-2.

The Captains stepped to the plate in the bottom of the seventh deadlocked in a classic pitcher’s duel with Beloit 1-1. Snapper starter David Hurlbut (3-3, 2.58) opened the frame by hitting third baseman Leonardo Castillo with a pitch, who then advanced to second on a bunt by center fielder Zach MacPhee. Hurlbut continued to struggle to find the zone, walking designated hitter Jose Ramirez to bring shortstop Francisco Lindor to the dish with runners on first and second.

The Indians top prospect had been struggling, coming into Saturday night’s contest hitting just .237 over his last ten games. Yet, swinging from the right side of the dish, Lindor made the 4,533 fans in attendance forget about his recent slump and remember why he is so highly valued by the Tribe.

The shortstop smashed an opposite-field ground-rule double to the gap in right field, scoring Castillo and pushing Ramirez to third. Lindor’s 28th RBI of the year set the table for right fielder Jordan Smith. Smith added to the Lake County advantage when he delivered a single over the drawn in infield, scoring two.

The single was Smith’s third base knock of the evening, giving him two three-hit contests in as many nights. Over his last ten games, the Lake County right fielder is 18-40 (.450) with two home runs and 10 RBI.

“He just keeps putting up good at-bats,” said manager Dave Wallace of Smith’s continued success. “He does a good job of putting balls in play and when you do that, good things happen.”

Lake County would tack on its final tally of the evening on a fielder’s choice by left fielder Bryson Myles that followed a Jerrud Sabourin single to center field. Myles would be thrown out stealing to end the frame, but not before Lake County put four runs on the board to capture a 5-1 lead which they would never relinquish.

“We have been good all year getting teams on the rope,” said Wallace. “At times we have lacked that knockout punch, but tonight we were able to score and add on to the lead.”

Five runs were plenty more than Lake County hurler Joe Colon (8-8, 2.90) needed on the evening. Colon set the tone from the beginning of the game, attacking Beloit hitters with his sinker and forcing them to put the ball in play.

The Snappers struck first off of Colon in the third inning. Right fielder Wang-Wei Lin slapped a single to center field and single by Wickens put runners on first and second. After a fly out advanced Lin to third, the Snappers decided to play small ball. Second baseman A.J. Pettersen laid down a successful safety squeeze to put Beloit ahead 1-0.

However, that would be all the scoring the All-Star would allow on the evening. The right-hander tossed seven strong innings, surrendering just one run on six hits. However, as it has been with Colon all season, the most important facet of the night was his ability to induce the ground ball. Unsurprisingly, ten Snapper hitters fell victim to ground ball out against Colon, including double play balls in the third and sixth innings.

“Joe Colon set the tone for us [tonight],” said Wallace of his All-Star right-hander. “That is what you need out of a starting pitcher.”

The Snappers would retain their 1-0 advantage until the bottom of the fifth inning. With one out, second baseman Todd Hankins singled and stole second, his first of two swiped bags on the evening. After a Castillo groundout, MacPhee lined a single to left field to score Hankins. It was the 18th RBI of the campaign for MacPhee.

Reliever Louis Head, who was recalled from Mahoning Valley before the contest, came on to pitch the eighth and ninth innings and secure the Lake County victory.

Head ran into some difficulty in his first inning of work, giving up a leadoff single to shortstop Steven Wickens. With two outs, third baseman Miguel Sano showed his middle of the order power when he roped a double into the left field corner for his 63rd RBI of the season.

Head would have no such difficulty in the ninth, retiring the bottom of the Snappers’ lineup in order to close the contest.

Lake County and Beloit will square off for the second game of their three-game series beginning at 7:00 pm on Sunday with fireworks scheduled to follow the contest. The Captains will send left-hander Elvis Araujo (3-7, 4.86) to the hill and the Snappers will counter with Ryan O’Rourke (2-4, 5.04), a left-hander of their own.

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