(Lansing, MI) - Shane Bieber was spectacular in his second start of the year for the Lake County Captains (4-5). Bieber struck out 11 Lansing Lugnuts (6-3), including a string of seven punch-outs in a row, to help lead Lake County to a 5-2 victory at Cooley Law School Stadium on Friday night.
Bieber was tough to touch from the start, but he really got going in the third. Lansing scored a second-inning run on a sacrifice fly and they threatened again in the bottom of the third after a one-out double by J.B. Woodman. That is when Bieber found his groove. He struck out Edward Olivares and Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. back-to-back, both looking, to end the inning and leave Woodman stranded on second.
Bieber remained untouchable in the fourth. He struck out the first batter, Christian Williams, but Williams reached first base on a dropped third strike, as the ball got away from catcher Logan Ice who then hit Williams with the throw to first. The baserunner did not harm Bieber who took the opportunity to accomplish a rare feat. Bieber fanned the next three batters to complete a four-strikeout inning. With six strikeouts in a row to his credit, Bieber made it a lucky seven straight when he got Nash Knight looking for the first out of the fifth, setting a new career-high with eight total strikeouts in the ballgame.
The run of consecutive strikeouts ended for Bieber after seven when Yeltsin Gudino grounded out to third, but Bieber was not done racking up K's. He struck out Woodman for the final out of the fifth for his ninth strikeout of the ballgame. Bieber then retired Edward Olivares swinging for out number one in the sixth. Two batters later, Bieber recorded strikeout number 11 on what proved to be his final pitch of the ballgame, fanning Williams to end the sixth.
Bieber (1-1) ultimately earned the win, becoming the first Captains starter this year to land in the win column. On top of his 11 strikeouts, the right-hander gave up just one run on four hits in six innings. Bieber did not issue a walk all night and he has not walked a batter at all in his first two starts, totaling 10.2 innings.
The Captains' offense struck like lightning in the fourth and fifth against Lansing starter Mike Ellenbest. Lake County strung together three straight hits to begin the fourth. Li-Jen Chu singled, Emmanuel Tapia singled and Conner Capel doubled to the gap in left-centerfield, scoring Chu to tie the game at 1-1. Ice then gave the Captains the lead, knocking in Tapia with a sacrifice fly to left. Luke Wakamatsu copied Ice and his sacrifice fly scored Capel to give the Captains a 3-1 lead.
Todd Isaacs and Chu provided the offense in the fifth. With two outs, Ellenbest hit Isaacs with a pitch and Isaacs promptly stole both second and third on back-to-back pitches. Chu then blasted a two-run homer to left, his second long ball of the year, to give the Captains a 5-1 lead. Isaacs tied a career-high with three steals in the game, including a stolen base in the first inning. He last accomplished the feat on September 5, 2016 with Mahoning Valley.
Lansing mounted a late comeback in the ninth and came dangerously close to upsetting the Captains, but fell just short. Reliever Dalbert Siri gave up a one-out hit to Ryan Hissey and then walked Jake Thomas. After Siri struck out Knight, he backed the Lugnuts up against the ropes with a 1-2 count on Gudino, but Gudino flared a single to left, scoring Hissey to make the score 5-2.
After Gudino's hit, the Lugnuts had the tying run at the plate and Woodman coming up. Once again, Siri pulled the Captains within a strike of victory, but then walked Woodman to load the bases and bring the winning run to the plate. For the third time in a row, Siri had the Lugnuts down to their final strike and this time he delivered. Siri got Olivares to bounce out to third baseman Jorma Rodriguez for the last out of the game.
Ellenbest (0-1) took the loss for Lansing. The right-hander surrendered all five Captains runs over five innings. Ellenbest gave up eight hits, struck out five and did not walk a batter.
The Captains and Lugnuts have split the first two games of this three game series, setting up Saturday's matchup as the rubber game. First pitch at Cooley Law School Stadium 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). Full season tickets plans, 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.