(Eastlake, OH) - The Lake County Captains (12-18) played their 1,000th Midwest League game on Monday night at Classic Park against the Beloit Snappers (14-15). The Captains almost made the milestone night a memorable one, coming back from a four-run deficit, but ultimately falling short in a 7-6 loss in the series-opener.
The Captains and Snappers traded runs over the first three innings. Beloit took a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first on a ground out and a Lake County miscue. With Mike Martin on third and Nate Mondou on second, Luke Persico hit a grounder to third baseman Jorma Rodriguez. Rodriguez threw out Persico at first as Martin scored easily from third, but Mondou took off for third on the play. Captains first baseman Juan De La Cruz tried to throw out Mondou, but his throw skipped away from Rodriguez and Mondou trotted home on the error.
Lake County answered right back in the bottom half of the inning. After Snappers starter Dalton Sawyer retired the first two men in the inning, the lefty walked Logan Ice and gave up a single to Li-Jen Chu. Luke Wakamatsu then knotted the score at 2-2 by ripping a two-run double down the left field line.
The Captains grabbed their first and only lead of the game with small ball in the second inning. De La Cruz and Rodriguez knocked back-to-back singles to open the frame and Conner Capel bunted them up to third and second, respectively. Trenton Brooks came up next and hit a grounder to shortstop, allowing De La Cruz to score and give the Captains a 3-2 advantage. That lead did not last long, however, as Miguel Mercedes hit a solo homer with two outs in the third to tie the game at 3-3.
The Snappers took the lead in the fifth inning on a hustle play by Martin. After Martin ripped his second double of the night to start the inning and moved up to third on a ground out, Persico hit a high pop up in foul territory outside of first base. De La Cruz made the catch and Martin tagged up from third base and started toward home. De La Cruz tried to get rid of a quick throw, but fumbled the ball on the transfer. Martin scored easily on the foul pop and sacrifice fly to give the Snappers a 4-3 advantage.
Beloit tacked on a run in the sixth on a double play ball and added two more insurance runs on a two-run single by Persico in the eighth, but the Captains mounted a comeback in the bottom of the eighth. Down 7-3, Chu singled and Wakamatsu hit his second double of the day to put runners on second and third. Todd Isaacs hit an RBI ground out that scored Chu and cut the deficit to 7-4, but De La Cruz provided the big blow. With two men on and two outs, De La Cruz lifted a two-run home run to right field, pulling the Captains within one run at 7-6. It was De La Cruz's first home run since August 3, 2015.
Despite the comeback effort, Lake County did not manage another run after De La Cruz's homer. In the ninth inning, Snappers reliever Yordys Alejo set the Captains down in order to nail down his first save of the year. Sawyer (3-2) earned the win for Beloit, pitching five innings and allowing three runs on four hits. Sawyer struck out three and walked a pair.
Micah Miniard got the start and took the loss for Lake County. Miniard (1-2) pitched into the seventh, but could not get an out in the frame. He allowed seven runs, six of which were earned on 10 hits. Miniard struck out four and did not walk a batter.
Martin, Persico and Mercedes paced the Beloit offense. Martin went 4-for-5 with two doubles and three runs scored. Persico drove home a team-high four runs on an RBI ground out, a sacrifice fly and a two-run single. Mercedes homered, doubled and scored twice.
Midwest League History
The Captains played the first seven seasons of their existence (2003-09) in the South Atlantic League before joining the Midwest League for the 2010 season. Lake County celebrated its first game in the Midwest League on April 8, 2010 at Classic Park with a walk-off victory over the West Michigan Whitecaps. That evening, Roberto Perez propelled the Captains to a 4-3 win with a double in the 10th inning. Lake County went on to win the Midwest League title that season. The Captains have gone 475-525 through their first 1,000 games of Midwest League play.
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.