Smith's late homer leads Captains to another win
DAYTON – A trio of home runs lifted the Lake County Captains over the Dayton Dragons in a 5-4 victory on Thursday night.
After taking the first game of the series on Wednesday, the Captains turned to Elvis Araujo (0-4, 2.61), who was still seeking his first win of the season.
The Captains earned Araujo some early run support in their half of the first inning as center fielder Luigi Rodriguez led the game off with a walk. Shortstop Francisco Lindor laid down a sacrifice bunt to push Rodriguez to second, and Lindor reached base on a throwing error by Dayton pitcher Radhames Quezada (0-3, 2.61). After designated hitter Alex Monsalve grounded out to advance Rodriguez to third, another error on behalf of third baseman Junior Arias allowed right fielder Jordan Smith to reach on the force attempt as Rodriguez scored to give Lake County the 1-0 lead.
The Dragons retaliated in the second inning when left fielder Juan Silva kicked off a 3-for-5 evening with a single. With two out, Silva swiped his eighth bag of the season and went on to score as Arias singled to left, leveling the score at 1-1.
Dayton drew the lead in the fifth inning. Centerfielder Jefry Sierra and shortstop Juan Perez had back-to-back hits off of Araujo, and Sierra scored on an RBI groundout off the bat of second baseman Ryan Wright.
Monsalve responded immediately in the sixth as he led off the inning with a home run deep to left. Quezada completed the remainder of the inning unscathed, but was replaced by righty James Allen (1-0, 4.74) in the seventh, ending Quezada’s night with six innings pitched, allowing four hits, two runs (one earned), and two walks while striking out one.
Meanwhile, Elvis Aruajo left the building in the bottom of the sixth, posting a final line of 5.2 innings pitched, relinquishing six hits, two runs (both earned), and one walk while fanning three Dayton hitters. Aruajo was replaced with right-hander Grant Sides (0-0, 2.35), who tossed 2.1 innings of flawless ball and struck out two.
Lake County launched another rocket in the eighth inning to gain a two-run lead as second baseman Robel Garcia sent a home run over the left field wall that also scored catcher Alex Lavisky, who had reached on a single.
The Dragons instigated some ninth inning drama as they plated two of their own off of Lake County’s Jeff Johnson (1-1, 9.64).
With one out, right fielder Steve Selsky singled to center and advanced to second as first baseman Sean Buckley drew a walk. Johnson plunked Arias with a pitch to load the bases and catcher Yovan Gonzalez laced a line drive to left to score Selsky. The Dragons picked up one more run as Sierra grounded out to short to plate Theo Bowe, who replaced Buckley as a pinch runner, sending the game to extra innings.
Cue right fielder Jordan Smith, who lifted Lake County back to a one-run lead as he blasted his second home run of the season to left field, advancing the Captains’ lead to 5-4.
Right-hander Cole Cook (0-1, 5.74) entered the game in the bottom of tenth to seal Dayton’s fate. Cook surrendered a pair of singles but enforced a game-ending double play to ensure Lake County’s victory.
Centerfielder Luigi Rodriguez and shortstop Francisco Lindor were the only Captains without a hit during the game, as both are currently posting a .315 batting average.
The Captains complete their three-game series with the Dragons on Friday as they look to earn their first series sweep of the season. Righty Joe Colon (1-3, 5.09) will take the bump for Lake County against Dayton right-hander Daniel Tuttle (1-0, 1.54).
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.