LANSING – The Lake County Captains concluded the 2012 regular season with a 15-6 comeback victory during which they rallied for nine runs in one inning over the Lansing Lugnuts.
Right-hander Felix Sterling (7-8, 5.65) was given the nod to start for the Captains instead of Cody Anderson, who was originally scheduled to start. Sterling was a starter for the Captains earlier in the year before he was sent to Arizona to put in some developmental work. Right-hander Kramer Champlin took the bump for the Lugnuts for his third start of the season.
After two scoreless innings from both starters, the Lugnuts unhinged Sterling for six runs in their half of the third. With one out, catcher Chris Schaeffer dropped a single into right before advancing to second on a two-out line drive single from second baseman Jason Leblebijian. First baseman Andy Fermin followed with another single into center and both runners advanced on a wild pitch. The wild pitch seemed to release the flood gates on Sterling, who then allowed five straight hits, all singles, which collected for a total of six runs in the inning.
The Captains retained their resiliency as they responded right away. Righty Tim Brechbuehler entered the game to pitch the fourth for the Lugnuts, finalizing Champlin’s line at three innings pitched, surrendering a pair of hits while striking out two.
Right fielder Jordan Smith welcomed Brechbuehler with a single to the shortstop and designated hitter Jerrud Sabourin drew a walk before catcher Jake Lowery reached base on a fielding error that allowed Smith to score. Lowery was thrown out in an attempt to advance to second, but left fielder Bryson Myles singled to score Sabourin. Third baseman Leonardo Castillo added one more as he sent a single to center to plate Myles, cutting the Lugnuts’ lead in half at 6-3.
Right-hander Cody Penny replaced Sterling to start the fourth inning, solidifying Sterling’s line at three innings pitched, yielding six runs on 11 hits and one strikeout.
The Captains gave Penny the lead in the fifth inning as Smith drew a two-out walk and Sabourin singled to push Smith to third. Lowery drew a walk to load the bases, which ended the outing for Brechbuehler, who was replaced with Aleson Escalante. Myles overmatched Escalante with a double to left to empty the bags and tie the game up at 6-6.
The seventh inning was the deciding factor in the game as the Captains batted around to blow the game out of reach from the Lugnuts.
Escalante remained in the game to start the seventh, and the Smith-Sabourin duo laced a pair of back-to-back singles to start. An error by the Lugnuts’ first baseman allowed Smith to score and Lowery to reach on a force attempt play, before Myles added his third hit of the afternoon to load the bases again. With one out, it was Castillo’s turn to empty the bags as he doubled to left to advance the Captains to a three-run lead. Shortstop Yhoxian Medina followed with a single to left and with runners on the corners, Escalante’s day was ended as he was replaced with Philip Brua. Second baseman Jose Ramirez didn’t let up on the new reliever as he greeted Brua with a triple to plate Castillo and Medina, and centerfielder Zach MacPhee joined the rally with a ground ball into left to add one more. Smith also singled to left before Sabourin drew a free pass to once again fill the bases and Lowery worked another walk to push home MacPhee. The final blow to the Lugnuts came as Myles tapped into a force out at second base that allowed Smith to score for the Captains’ ninth run of the inning.
The insurance was more than enough for the Lake County bullpen, who went to work as Manny Carmona entered the game to replace Penny, whose line totaled at three innings pitched, relinquishing just one hit and one walk. Carmona converted a scoreless seventh inning before giving way to Francisco Valera, who concluded the game for the Captains to secure them with the 15-6 win.
Monday’s game concluded the regular season for both teams, but Captains come home to Eastlake to begin the Midwest League playoffs on Wednesday. Though no pitching match-up has been officially released, the Captains will face the Bowling Green Hot Rods.
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.