(Midland, MI) - The Lake County Captains (15-23) and Great Lakes Loons (17-22) battled back and forth on Wednesday morning in one of the wildest games of the 2017 season. Conner Capel homered twice and the Captains led by as many as four runs, the Captains had to battle back to tie the game in the ninth inning and later prevailed in 10 innings, thanks to a run-scoring error by Great Lakes. Lake County notched a 10-7 win and took the series by clinching the rubber game at Dow Diamond.
The Captains were all over Great Lakes early. Emmanuel Tapia singled home Li-Jen Chu in the first and Mitch Longo hit a sacrifice fly in the second to plate Capel. Up 2-0 in the fourth, the Captains really turned it on. Capel and Jose Vicente blasted back-to-back home runs to give Lake County a 4-0 lead.
The Loons came storming back in the fifth. Captains starter Justin Garza ran out of steam and walked two batters before giving up back-to-back two-out RBI singles to Gage Green and Errol Robinson. Domingo Jimenez came in from the bullpen to try to stop the bleeding, but he unfurled a wild pitch to score Green, walked Saige Jenco and gave up a two-run single off the bat of Brendon Davis to give Great Lakes the lead at 5-4.
With the Loons now on top, the Captains leaned on Capel's hot bat to know the game up. Capel delivered in the sixth, blasting his second home run of the day over the right field wall. Capel tallied his first career multi-homer game and evened the score at 5-5.
The game was not tied for long. Great Lakes tacked on two runs in the sixth against Lake County reliever Michael Letkewicz to regain the lead. Oneil Cruz and Mitchell Hansen hit back-to-back singles before Stevie Berman knocked in Cruz with a single of his own. Luis Paz then came up and hit a flare to shortstop that Luke Wakamatsu dropped. Wakamatsu was able to recover in time to get Berman at second with the force play, but Hansen scored on the fielder's choice to give Great Lakes a 7-5 lead.
Lake County pulled within one run in the eighth. Vicente worked a two-out walk and Longo drilled a double to the gap in right-centerfield that plated Vicente and trimmed the Loons' lead to 7-6. The Captains had a chance to tie the game that very inning, but reliever Patrick Duester retired Jorma Rodriguez on a ground out to end the frame.
The Captains evened the score in the ninth against closer Sven Schuller. Alexis Pantoja singled with one out, moved to second on a wild pitch and advanced to third on another wild pitch. Schuller then hit Chu to put runners on the corners and bring Tapia to the plate. Tapia hit a soft grounder to second base, but it got the job done. Pantoja scored on the ground out and the game was even again at 7-7.
Wakamatsu very nearly put the Captains ahead in the ninth inning, but a crazy play ended the inning. Wakamatsu ripped a line drive to Cruz. The Loons' shortstop leaped up, but could not make the catch. As the ball fell behind Cruz, Chu raced around from third and tried to score. Cruz fired home, but his throw was wild and up the third base line. Luckily for Great Lakes, Schuller was backing up home plate, made the catch and raced to the line to tag out Chu and end the inning with the game still tied.
Another wild play gave the Captains the lead in the 10th. Schuller had retired the first two men, but then gave up a double to Longo. After Schuller walked Rodriguez, Trenton Brooks hit a soft ground ball to first base. Paz fielded the ball and flipped to Schuller covering first, but the pitcher dropped the baseball. Longo sprinted home all the way from second to give the Captains the lead and then Schuller uncorked a wild throw home that allowed the runners to advance into scoring position. Pantoja followed with a two-RBI single and the Captains jumped out to a 10-7 lead.
Ryder Ryan nailed down the save in the 10th. The right-hander only allowed one hit, a two-out single by Paz, en route to his second save of the year. Alsis Herrera earned the win in relief for Lake County. Herrera (1-0) pitched three shutout innings and surrendered just one hit. He walked one and struck out one.
Schuller (2-1) took the loss and suffered a blown save. The right-hander lasted 1.2 innings and allowed four runs, three of which were unearned. Schuller gave up three hits, walked one and did not strike out a batter.
The Captains won the series at Great Lakes and will head home on Thursday to take on the West Michigan Whitecaps. First pitch from Classic Park is scheduled for 6:30 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.