(Eastlake, OH) - The Lake County Captains (8-8, 35-50) nearly came back from a five-run deficit on Friday night, but just ran out of steam. The Captains fell to the West Michigan Whitecaps (12-4, 57-26) in the opener of a four-game series at Classic Park, 6-5.
Lake County struck first on an RBI double by Emmanuel Tapia in the first inning, but the Whitecaps responded and jumped out to a 6-1 lead in a flash. West Michigan tied the game in the second inning when Cole Bauml singled, moved to second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on a double play ball and scored on a two-out RBI single by Chad Sedio. The next inning, Anthony Pereira homered to give the Whitecaps a 2-1 lead.
West Michigan effectively won the game with a breakout fourth inning, in which the Whitecaps scored four runs on four hits and two walks. Zac Shepherd walked to lead off and Sedio hit a one-out double to put two runners in scoring position. Sam Machonis then followed with an RBI single to score Shepherd and Sedio raced home shortly thereafter on a wild pitch. Danny Woodrow followed with a walk and Danny Pinero singled to load the bases. Pereira came up next and roped an RBI single that plated Machonis to give the Whitecaps a 5-1 advantage.
Pereira's single knocked Captains starter Micah Miniard out of the game and the Captains brought Ben Krauth in from the bullpen to calm the tides. Krauth got Austin Athmann to fly out to right field, but the fly ball was deep enough to score Woodrow. Athmann's sacrifice fly gave West Michigan a 6-1 lead, but Krauth got the next batter to pop out for the final out of the inning.
Lake County stormed back in the fifth inning. Elvis Perez, making his Captains debut, led off with a single. Junior Soto came up next for his first at-bat of the ballgame after replacing Todd Isaacs, who left early with an apparent injury. Soto cranked a two-run homer off the centerfield batter's eye to cut West Michigan's lead to 6-3.
The Whitecaps committed a pair of errors later in the fifth that led to another Lake County run. Mitch Longo hit a soft grounder that went under Sedio's glove at second and Longo hustled to second base as the ball rolled into shallow right-centerfield. Miguel Eladio then hit a grounder to third and Shepherd threw wildly to first, allowing Longo to move to third and Eladio to reach at first. Li-Jen Chu then grounded into a double play, but Longo scored to trim the Whitecaps' advantage to 6-4.
The Captains had one last gasp in the ninth. Jose Medina singled and raced to second base when centerfielder Danny Woodrow bobbled the baseball. Medina moved to third on a ground out by Alexis Pantoja and scored on an RBI ground out by Perez. Soto, however, grounded out to shortstop to end the game.
Whitecaps starter Spenser Watkins earned the win. Watkins (6-1) pitched six innings and allowed four runs, three of which were earned. The right-hander gave up eight hits, struck out two and hit a batter. Burris Warner pitched the final three innings and gave up one unearned run to pick up his second save of the season.
Miniard (2-8) suffered the loss for Lake County. He pitched 3.1 innings and was charged with six runs on eight hits. The right-hander struck out one and walked five.
The Captains dropped the opener of the four-game home series and have lost two in a row. They will take on West Michigan again on Saturday night. First pitch at Classic Park is scheduled for 7:00 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- and 20-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.