Alex Monsalve lifted the Lake County Captains over the Great Lakes Loons with a solo home run on Saturday afternoon, ensuring the Captains’ with a 6-4 win.
Lake County scored first off of Great Lakes’ starter Jarret Martin (2-1, 2.63) as centerfielder Luigi Rodriguez reached on a fielder error by Great Lakes’ shortstop Pedro Guerrero. Lake County shortstop Robel Garcia followed with a double to left to plate Rodriguez, giving the Captains a 1-0 advantage in the first.
The Captains jumped on Martin in the second inning as first baseman Jerrud Sabourin led off with a walk. The bottom half of the Lake County lineup crafted a trip of singles as second baseman Todd Hankins, third baseman Leonardo Castillo and left fielder Zach MacPhee went back-to-back-to-back to score Sabourin and Hankins, boosting the Captains’ lead to 3-0.
Meanwhile, Captains’ starter Felix Sterling (1-1, 3.03) breezed through the first three innings with little difficulty, surrendering just two hits, which all would occur in the second inning.
Right fielder Bryson Myles led off the third inning as he reached base on another error by Guerrero and swiped second as designated hitter Alex Lavisky battled through a tough at-bat. After Lavisky grounded out, Myles advanced to third on a groundout off the bat of Sabourin and went on to score on a wild pitch.
Great Lakes finally got on the board in the fourth inning when designated hitter O’Koyea Dickson jacked his second home run of the season over the centerfield wall.
Right-hander Mason Radeke entered the game in the seventh to replace Sterling, whose night concluded after six innings pitched, allowing one run on three hits and two walks while fanning four.
Radeke ran into trouble right away as he was greeted with a single by third baseman Jesse Bosnik. A throwing error by Garcia at second allowed right fielder Devin Shines to reach and the bases were soon loaded after catcher Jan Vasquez was hit by a pitch. Bosnik went on to score on a groundout force play, and Radeke regained himself as he got the next two hitters to pop out and strike out respectively.
The Captains retaliated in their half of the seventh as catcher Alex Monsalve hit his fourth home run of the year off of reliever Joel Lima, who replaced Martin in the fourth. Martin’s line consisted of three innings pitched, surrendering four runs (two earned) on four hits and three walks with five strikeouts.
The Loons made things interesting in the eighth as they pulled within one run of the Captains, but Lake County added an insurance run soon after as Hankins singled and circled the bases after a wild pitch and a series of errors.
Radeke closed out the ninth as he retired the side in order to preserve the Captains win with a 6-4 victory.
Captains’ Manager David Wallace praised the number of lengthy and quality at-bats his team had.
“We’ve been emphasizing quality at-bats and executing a plan since spring training,” Wallace said. “We did a good job of waiting for our pitch to hit and laying off of his [Martin’s] pitch.”
Though the team constructed some quality at-bats during Saturday’s game, their situational hitting still struggled as they hit 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base. “It is a little concerning,” Wallace said. “I think we’ve got to get better in those situations. That’s where the discipline, the laying off some tough pitches comes into play. Overall we’re doing a better job, but if you look at just the situational hitting with runners on, our zone’s a little too big right now.”
The Captains are now three games from a .500 record at 16-19. Wallace noted that the improvements his team has made are more important than their record. “It matters that we’re playing better and we’re more aware of certain situations and we’re executing at the plate,” he said. “But genuinely and honestly, the record doesn’t matter to me.”
Wallace also mentioned that outfielder LeVon Washington, who recently had surgery on his right hip and was rehabbing in Colorado, is now back in the area and doing well. At the time of his injury, Washington was expected to miss two to four months of the season.
The Captains face Great Lakes again on Sunday as Elvis Araujo (0-4, 2.57) will start for Lake County and right-hander Jose Dominguez (1-1, 2.70) will take the bump for the Loons.
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.