(South Bend, IN) - The Lake County Captains (27-41) would not have had a chance to win their fourth straight game if it was not for Junior Soto and his Ruthian performance on Saturday night. Soto hit three solo home runs against the South Bend Cubs (38-30), the last of which tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the ninth. Soto accounted for 100% of the Captains' offense until Logan Ice hit a two-run shot in the 10th inning to lift Lake County to a 5-3 victory. The comeback effort gave the Captains their third straight series win.
Soto came up for the first time in the fourth with the Captains trailing 2-0 and provided a prodigious blast. The tall right-handed hitter belted a 1-0 pitch from lefty Jose Paulino deep to centerfield. Soto's fly ball cleared the batter's eye in centerfield for a home run that traveled an estimated 452 feet.
The Cubs grabbed another run in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI double by Luis Ayala, but Soto came through again in the sixth to pull the Captains closer. Again, Soto came to the plate with nobody aboard and blasted a towering home run, this time to left field. Soto's solo homer traveled to the back of the left field bleachers and pulled the Captains within one run again at 3-2.
Lake County still trailed 3-2 heading into the ninth, but the Captains had reason to hope with Soto due up first. Facing lefty reliever Wyatt Short, Soto hammered a pitch deep to left-centerfield. The blast was originally ruled in play and Soto sprinted to third with a leadoff triple. Captains Manager Larry Day, however, came out to contend that the ball had cleared the wall and hit the railing above the fence for a home run. Umpires Donnie Smith and Nick Susie conferred and ultimately decided the ball had, indeed, cleared the wall for a home run. Soto's third bomb of the game had tied the score in the ninth. Cubs Manager Jimmy Gonzalez was unhappy with the umpires' decisions. He came out to argue and was subsequently ejected.
The Cubs made the Captains sweat in the ninth, but Henry Martinez came through in the clutch on the mound. Jhonny Pereda hit a one-out double, putting the winning run on second for South Bend. The Captains intentionally walked Roberto Caro to set up a double play situation and Ayala grounded into a fielder's choice at second, which put runners on the corners with two outs. Martinez then struck out Zack Short to send the game to extra innings, still tied at 3-3.
The Captains struck quickly in the 10th. After Kevin Bradley led off with a single, Ice battled with Short, who remained in the ballgame to pitch. On the sixth pitch of the at-bat, Ice hammered a two-run home run over the left field wall to put the Captains ahead for the first time in the game, 5-3. The long ball was Ice's first homer since May 3 and it was the switch-hitter's first right-handed home run in his professional career.
Dalbert Siri had little trouble shutting the door and earning the save in the 10th. Siri retired the first two batters on a ground out and a fly out. After walking Chris Pieters, he got pinch-hitter Michael Cruz to bounce out to first for the final out. The save was the All-Star right-hander's sixth of the season.
Martinez (2-2) earned the win after pitching a scoreless ninth inning. He allowed one hit, walked one batter intentionally and struck out one. Ben Krauth did not factor in the decision, but the lefty reliever pitched well, throwing four scoreless innings with six strikeouts, one hit allowed and three walks. Starter Cesar Ventura allowed three runs on seven hits over four innings.
Short (1-2) suffered the loss for South Bend. The left-hander pitched two innings and gave up three runs on a pair of homers. Short allowed five total hits, walked one and struck out one.
The Captains have won four games in a row and five out of their last six contests. They will go for their fifth straight win and their first three-game series sweep of the season on Sunday afternoon against the Cubs. Sunday's game will be the final contest of the first half. First pitch at Four Winds Field is scheduled for 2:05 PM.
Individual game tickets for all Captains games are on sale at the Classic Park box office, online at captainsbaseball.com and by phone at 440-954-WINS (9467). 12-, 20-, and 35-game mini ticket plans for the 2017 season are on sale now at great prices complete with several exclusive benefits. Information can be found at the Captains website www.captainsbaseball.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.