EASTLAKE – A quartet of home runs lifted the South Bend Silver Hawks over Roberto Hernandez and the Lake County Captains during an 8-1 loss on Sunday evening.
The Captains turned to Hernandez (1-0, 1.80) to counter South Bend righty Tyler Green (3-6, 4.22), who received a win in his last outing against the Captains back in June.
Hernandez made his second start of the season for the Captains and currently has 19 career wins with the team, dating back to 2003. In his last outing with Lake County, he pitched five innings and allowed three runs (one earned) on six hits and four strikeouts against the West Michigan Whitecaps.
Right fielder Jordan Smith put the Captains on the board right away in the first as he sent a two-out solo home run over the right fielder wall, giving Lake County the 1-0 lead.
The Silver Hawks’ rebuttal came in the third in the form of another home run. Catcher Roidany Aguilar hit his sixth home run of the season on a line drive to right to level the score at 1-1.
Left fielder Kerry Jenkins continued the offensive output in the fifth with another long ball to left for his third of the year, advancing the Silver Hawks to the 2-1 edge.
The third component of the South Bend home run derby occurred in the seventh inning as right fielder Tom Belza went yard for the sixth time this season.
Meanwhile, Green cut down the Captains’ offense through seven innings of work, surrendering one run on seven hits and one walk while fanning three. Green was replaced with right-hander Kaleb Fleck to start the eighth.
Hernandez remained in the game for the eighth inning, where he was greeted by designated hitter Marc Bourgeois with the Silver Hawks’ fourth home run of the night. After relinquishing a walk and a single, Hernandez got centerfielder Chris Ellison to line out before he was pulled and replaced with righty Louis Head.
The floodgates opened in the ninth to sink the Captains’ ship as the Silver Hawks tacked on four more runs. First baseman Matt Helm led off the inning with a single into right and scored as Jenkins sent his second shot of the evening deep over the left-centerfield wall. Bourgeois and Aguila followed with a pair of back-to-back triples. Bourgeois scored on Aguila’s triple and Aguila crossed the dish as Ellison doubled to left, boosting the Silver Hawks to the 8-1 lead.
Right-hander Jesse Darrah entered the game in the ninth for the Silver Hawks, and the seven-run lead was more than enough as he yielded a tripled to third baseman Leonardo Castillo, but escaped the inning unscathed to preserve South Bend with the win.
Hernandez said he felt great, despite the four home runs he surrendered, which were the result of a couple breaking pitches he left up in the zone. He said he threw a lot of two-seam fastballs and just missed on a couple pitches.
Hernandez is eligible to rejoin the Cleveland Indians on August 11 after serving a three-week suspension assigned by Major League Baseball. He said he does not know where he will start next.
“I don’t know where I’m going next time,” he said. “I’m ready for whatever has to go. I’m ready to pitch.”
He also is not over-thinking the reaction of the fans when he returns to start at Progressive Field. “I think about pitching,” he said. “I don’t think about the fans.”
Next, the Captains will hand the ball to right-hander Mason Radeke (5-5, 3.67) to square off against South Bend lefty Keith Hessler (1-1, 2.78) in the third game of the four-game series.
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.