(Lansing, MI) - A ninth-inning rally nearly spoiled the party for the Lake County Captains (21-26, 48-68) on Friday night. The Captains took a three-run lead into the bottom of the ninth at Cooley Law School Stadium, but the Lansing Lugnuts (19-28, 56-57) rallied to pull within one run and had the bases loaded with nobody out. With the slim lead in peril, Dalbert Siri and the Captains miraculously recorded the final three outs without allowing another run to score and escaped with a 6-5 win.
The bottom of the ninth began with the Captains on top, 6-3, and Siri came in from the bullpen to go for his 12th save. Lansing, however, loaded the bases with nobody out. Siri hit Mattingly Romanin to begin the inning, Javier Hernandez singled and Siri hit Nick Sinay. Siri then walked Joshua Palacios on four pitches to force home Romanin and cut the Captains' lead to 6-4.
The Lugnuts still had the bases loaded and nobody out with Edward Olivares at the plate. Olivares hit a grounder to Emmanuel Tapia , but the first baseman fumbled the ball. Hernandez scored to trim the Captains' lead to 6-5 and the Lugnuts still had the bases loaded with nobody out.
Siri and the Captains were in a bind. Sinay was on third as the tying run, Palacios carried the winning run on second and Olivares was on first base with Nash Knight coming up. Knight then lined out to shortstop for the first out and Mitch Nay came to the plate. Lake County pulled the infield halfway in and brought the outfield in. Nay hit a chopper to Alexis Pantoja at second base. Pantoja tagged Olivares and threw Nay out at first to end the ballgame. Siri secured his 12th save by the skin of his teeth and the Captains escaped with their second straight win at Lansing.
Conner Capel led the Lake County offense on Friday and the Captains' centerfielder opened the scoring in the top of the fourth against starter Yennsy Diaz. Mitch Longo reached first with a one-out walk and stole second. After Tapia worked a two-out walk, Capel ripped a double down the right field line to score Longo and give the Captains a 1-0 lead.
Nay gave the Lugnuts the lead in the bottom of the fourth. Captains starter Juan Hillman walked Knight with one out and Nay drilled a two-run homer to left field. Nay's long ball put the Lugnuts ahead, 2-1.
Luke Wakamatsu went deep to knot the score in the fifth. Diaz retired the first two men in the frame, but Wakamatsu hit a towering solo homer to right field. Wakamatsu's ninth home run of the year tied the score at 2-2.
Capel struck once again in the sixth inning. Longo led off with a single against right-hander Andy Ravel and Li-Jen Chu followed with a single. Two batters later, Capel yanked a three-run homer over the tall wall down the right field line. Capel's 19th home run of the season put the Captains in front again, 5-2.
Capel used his wheels to give the Captains a much-needed insurance run in the eighth. Capel singled with one out against reliever Denis Diaz and then Michael Tinsley worked a walk. After a passed ball moved Capel to third and Tinsley to second base, Diaz uncorked a wild pitch. Capel sprinted home, but the ball caromed off the backstop. Hernandez fielded the carom and tossed to Diaz covering home. Capel slid in just as the ball arrived and Diaz could not handle the flip, as he collided with Capel, who touched home safely with what turned out to be the winning run. Lake County took a 6-2 lead.
Lansing scored one run in the eighth against reliever Cameron Mingo . In his Captains debut, Mingo had worked scoreless frames in the sixth and seventh, but Knight tripled with one out in the eighth and J.B. Woodman hit a two-out triple to the gap in right-centerfield. Knight scored to shave the Captains' lead to 6-3.
Capel finished with a game-high three hits and four RBI. The Captains' centerfielder went 3-for-4 with a home run, a double, four RBI and two runs scored.
Hillman (6-7) earned the win for Lake County. The lefty pitched five innings and allowed two runs on three hits. He struck out five and walked two.
Ravel (6-7) suffered the loss in relief after allowing Capel's go-ahead homer. He pitched two innings and gave up three runs on four hits. Ravel walked one and struck out two.
Lake County has won the first two games of its four-game series at Lansing. The Captains take on the Lugnuts again on Saturday night. First pitch at Cooley Law School Stadium is scheduled for 7:05 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). Mini ticket plans for the 2017 season are still available for 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.