EASTLAKE – The Lake County Captains ignited a late-inning rally on Sunday to overcome the Fort Wayne TinCaps as Francisco Lindor fought his way through a recent slump and Elvis Araujo tossed another solid outing.
Starting for the Captains was left-hander Araujo (2-4, 3.19), who struggled in his last start against Lansing as he gave up five runs in three innings. On the bump for the TinCaps was righty Ruben Mejia (1-1, 4.74) who was making his second start of the season.
The Captains scored first in the second inning as first baseman Jerrud Sabourin led off with a double to right and advanced to third on a groundout. With two outs, Sabourin scored on a single off the bat of third baseman Leonardo Castillo to give Lake County the 1-0 lead.
Araujo was locked in through his start as he minimized the chances for any damage through six innings. There was little action from the Fort Wayne bats until the sixth inning, when shortstop Tyler Stubblefield led off with a single and stole second. With one out, right fielder Yeison Asencio singled to center to plate Stubblefield and even the score.
The TinCaps weren’t finished in the seventh inning as Grant Sides entered the game to replace Araujo, ending Araujo’s day with six innings pitched, allowing one run on four hits and two walks while striking out five. With one out, Sides surrendered a double to third baseman Duanel Jones, who advanced to third on a groundout. Designated hitter Kyle Gaedele followed with a line drive single to center to score Jones, giving Fort Wayne the 2-1 lead.
The Captains responded right away in their half of the seventh as shortstop Francisco Lindor struck out on a wild pitch but reached base as he hustled to first. That ended the day for Dennis O’Grady, who entered the game to pitch in the sixth inning. O’Grady was replaced with Robert Eisenbach, a six-foot lefty from Newark, Ohio.
From there, Lindor swiped second and third before right fielder Jordan Smith was plunked by a pitch. Cue catcher Alex Lavisky, who caught a break on a ground ball that took a bad hop over the gloves of the third baseman and shortstop for a single into left that scored Lindor.
The bottom half of the eighth was the big one as the Captains sent five runs across the dish. Daniel Cropper replaced Eisenbach and was greeted by designated hitter Alex Monsalve, who laced a single to right and stole second. Left fielder Jordan Casas followed suit with another single to right, moving Monsalve to third. Monsalve went on to score as a balk was called on Cropper and Castillo sent another single into right. Second baseman Robel Garcia joined the offensive output with a double deep to center to score Casas and Castillo scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Todd Hankins, who entered the game in the sixth to replace Luigi Rodriguez in centerfield. Lindor and Smith hit back-to-back doubles to tack on two more runs, totaling a rally for five runs in the inning.
That was more than sufficient for Sides, who retired the side in the ninth with a ground out and a pair of strikeouts, sealing the Captains’ win at 7-2.
Lake County manager David Wallace said thank you very much to Elvis Araujo, noting that Araujo’s start kept the team in the game.
“I was very happy to see Elvis come out and throw the way he did,” Wallace said. “That really set the tone right there.”
Wallace also noted that Lindor’s hustle in the seventh was the tipping point in the game. “There’s no doubt about it, the game changed when Francisco struck out and hustled down to first and everything happened after that. It just proves time and time again the type of player that he is. He’s a game-changer.”
Wallace said that Lindor’s determination reflected the ideals of the organization. “He struck out, but he didn’t sulk about it,” said Wallace. “He takes off for first and runs as hard as he can there. He puts that behind us and that’s what we preach to these guys. Once something happens, it’s over. Let’s move forward and make the most of where we’re at right now. Francisco does that on a consistent basis.”
After hitting 1-for-2 on Sunday, Jordan Smith now has a nine-game hit streak. Through his last 10 games, Smith is hitting .405 with a .450 on-base percentage.
“Jordan’s been hot lately and it’s been good to see,” said Wallace. “He’s been working on a couple adjustments at the plate and we’re starting to see some of that play out in games. He’s definitely a guy we really like. Before the season, and now, he continues to reaffirm our feelings about him.”
Sunday’s win advances the Captains’ record to 27-29. Joe Colon (5-5, 2.66) will start for Lake County on Monday against Fort Wayne’s Cody Hebner (5-2, 4.06).
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.