Lake County Captains hold on to beat Lansing Lugnuts, 5-4
EASTLAKE, Ohio – Behind the power of Nellie Rodriguez, the Lake County Captains (11-9) defeated the Lansing Lugnuts (10-10) by the final score of 5-4. The win propelled the Captains to within 2.5 games of first place in the Midwest League Eastern Division.
Lake County managed to score first in the bottom of the first inning. After shortstop Ivan Castillo and center fielder Clint Frazier both reached base to start the inning off of Lugnut starter Shane Dawson (2-5, 3.78 ERA), Eric Haase knocked in Castillo to give the Captains a 1-0 lead.
The Captains added to their lead in the bottom of the second inning. With one out in the inning, right fielder Jorge Martinez hit a single to center. After designated hitter Brian Ruiz hit a single to right that put runners on first and third with only one out, Castillo plated Martinez with a sacrifice fly.
Lansing managed to tie the game thanks to solo home runs in the top of the fourth and top of the fifth inning off of Captain starter Caleb Hamrick (3-4, 6.50 ERA). Designated hitter Matt Dean connected on a solo home run in the top of the fourth and left fielder David Harris hit a solo home run to left to tie the game at 2-2.
However, the Captains responded back in a big way in the bottom of the fifth inning. Castillo reached first to start the frame on an infield single. Second baseman Paul Hendrix then reached on a single of his own to put runners on first and third with only one out. Nellie Rodriguez, who had homered four times in his last five games, then crushed a three-run home run to give the Captains the lead right back at 5-2.
Dawson's night was over after just 4.1 innings. He gave up seven hits, five earned runs, walked two, and struck out four.
After surrendering the lead in bottom of the fifth inning, the Lugnuts continued to keep the game close by scoring a run in both the sixth and seventh innings. In the top of the sixth inning, Mitch Nay led off the frame with a double to center. After Hamrick was replaced by reliever Alexis Paredes, first baseman Jason Leblebijian drove in Nay with a double of his own to trim the Captains' lead to 5-3.
Hamrick went 5.1 innings, gave up five hits, three earned runs, walked one, and struck out one.
In the top of the seventh inning, with one out, Dickie Joe Thon singled to center. Dean then followed Thon with a RBI double that pulled the Lugnuts to within one run at 5-4.
However, the Captains managed to hold the one run advantage until the ninth inning when manager Mark Budzinski called on Trevor Frank for the save. Frank pitched a perfect ninth inning for his eighth save of the season.
Although Hamrick was not at his best, he pitched well enough for the win. The loss went to Dawson.
The Captains will continue their home stand Friday evening when they begin a series against the Great Lakes Loons. Lake County is scheduled to start Dace Kime (4-10, 4.89 ERA) while the Loons are scheduled to pitch Greg Harris (6-5, 4.91 ERA). First pitch is set for 7:00 p.m.