Garcia's homer powers Captains to 6-3 win
EASTLAKE - The Lake County Captains celebrated a 6-3 victory on Wednesday night as center fielder Luigi Rodriguez went 3-for-4 in the team’s return home for a three-game series against the Peoria Chiefs.
Right-hander Cody Anderson (1-0, 3.00 ERA) took the bump for the Captains for his third start of the season as lefty Gerardo Concepcion (0-0, 0.00 ERA) made his season debut for Peoria. Concepcion was signed by the Chicago Cubs in March 2011, inking a five-year, $3 million deal with a $3 million signing bonus.
The Captains’ bats were ready for Concepcion as they put up five runs in the first. Rodriguez led off with a single and shortstop Francisco Lindor followed with a ground-rule double to left. Designated hitter Alex Monsalve joined in with a single to plate Rodriguez and catcher Alex Lavisky hit a sacrifice fly to score Lindor, giving the Captains a 2-0 lead. Right fielder Jordan Casas singled to left to push Monsalve to second.
Cue third baseman Robel Garcia, who blasted a bomb into the left field bleachers for a three-run home run for his first long ball of the year. After first baseman Jerrud Sabourin popped out and left fielder Zach MacPhee grounded out, the Captains exited the inning with a 5-0 lead.
Peoria answered in the third inning when center fielder Pin-Chieh Chen doubled and scored as designated hitter Wes Darvill singled to right with two outs. Darvill went on to score after first baseman Paul Hoilman reached base on an error by Garcia at third and catcher Taylor Davis singled on a line-drive to left, making the score 5-2.
Anderson regrouped and strung together two more solid innings as he kept the Chiefs from scoring, ending his evening with a line of five innings pitched, relinquishing six hits, two runs (one earned), and no walks while striking out six.
Anderson was replaced by right-hander Cole Cook in the sixth. Cook ran into trouble as he surrendered back-to-back singles, but pitched his way out of the jam to prevent any further damage.
Yao-Lin Wang entered the game for Peoria in the sixth, giving Concepcion a line of five innings, eight hits, five earned runs and one walk while striking out two.
Lake County tacked on an extra run off of Wang in the seventh as Rodriguez led off with an infield bunt single for his third hit of the night and Lindor drew a walk. Monsalve reached base on a throwing error by shortstop Marco Hernandez that scored Rodriguez, increasing the Captains’ lead to 6-2.
Mason Radeke entered the game in the eighth for Lake County, replacing Cook who tossed two scoreless innings while giving up three hits.
Radeke threw a scoreless eighth and yielded a run in the top of the ninth in the form of a home run off the bat of second baseman Zeke DeVoss. DeVoss’s shot was Peoria’s final run as Radeke regained his composure by striking out Chen to end the game.
After the game, Captains’ manager David Wallace was content with the team’s effort.
“I’m just pleased with the at bats we’re having,” Wallace said. “Meaning we were getting our pitch and we weren’t missing it. Their guy was obviously struggling a little bit and we did a good job of letting him struggle.”
Wallace also gave credit to Anderson, even though Anderson didn’t go deep in his start.
“I don’t think Cody had his best stuff,” said Wallace. “But he battled and the fact that he was able to go five was impressive.”
Wallace noted that the team’s struggles on their recent road trip weren’t in vain.
"It’s not even about what the actual scores were,” he said. “It’s just that you want to see progress in areas that we’ve been struggling with. Our base running has been much better than it was earlier. Our at bats have improved and our starters have done a good job all year of attacking guys.”
Anderson revealed that he relied heavily on his cutter and mentioned that a five-run lead was a positive boost.
“It really helps out when these guys are battling for runs and helping support me, so I’m helping support them,” said Anderson. “I just try to eliminate too many pitches in an inning, get some ground ball outs and get the guys back in the dugout.”
Thursday, the Captains host the Chiefs again in the second game of the series. Right-hander Felix Sterling (0-0, 3.15) is slated to face Peoria’s Michael Jensen (3-1, 1.50), who has been the Chiefs’ most successful starter this season. Wednesday’s win boosts Lake County’s record to 6-14 on the season.
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.