(Eastlake, OH) - Li-Jen Chu provided late heroics for the Lake County Captains (3-4), but it ultimately was not enough to win the ballgame. Chu forced extra innings on Wednesday with a game-tying single in the ninth inning, but the Great Lakes Loons beat the Captains in 10 innings. An RBI single by Stevie Berman in the 10th gave Great Lakes a 3-2 win in the series finale at Classic Park.
The Captains trailed 2-1 going into the bottom of the ninth, but Jorma Rodriguez started a rally for Lake County with a one-out single to right field. Todd Isaacs then drew a walk to put the winning run on base and move Rodriguez up to second with the tying run. After Emmanuel Tapia flied out to center, Chu squared off against Loons reliever Vinny Santarsiero and worked the count to 2-2. The Captains' runners took off on the 2-2 pitch and Chu laced a single to center that scored Rodriguez with the tying run. Conner Capel came up next and tried to bunt for a hit, but was thrown out to end the inning and send the game to extra frames.
Great Lakes abruptly regained the lead in the top of the 10th after a Captains error opened the door. Oneil Cruz led off and chopped a grounder to second base, but Erlin Cerda bobbled the ball and Cruz reached safely. Captains reliever Ryder Ryan struck out the next batter, but Cruz stole second. Berman followed with a single to score Cruz and give the Loons a 3-2 advantage.
In the bottom half of 10th, the Captains again threatened, but ran themselves out of the inning. Cerda reached on an infield single to start the frame and Juan De La Cruz blasted a fly ball deep to right-centerfield. De La Cruz's drive did not have enough juice to leave the yard and right fielder Gage Green caught the ball at the wall, but Cerda had already rounded second base. Green fired back to first base and doubled off Cerda for out number two. Santarsiero then got Alexis Pantoja to bounce back to the mound to end the game.
Long before the extra frames, this ballgame began as a pitcher's duel between Captains starter Aaron Civale and Jordan Sheffield. Civale struck out a career-high 10 batters, the most strikeouts by a Captains pitcher in 2017. The right-hander lasted 5.2 innings and only surrendered one unearned run on four hits and one walk, but Civale did not factor in the decision.
Sheffield took home a no-decision, as well, but the right-hander started strong. He set down the first 11 men he faced in order before walking Isaacs and subsequently giving up an RBI double to Tapia. Sheffield went four frames and gave up just one run on one hit and one walk. He struck out four Captains.
Santarsiero (1-0) blew the save in the ninth inning, but picked up the win. He gave up one run over two innings. The Captains tallied three hits against Santarsiero and walked once.
Ryan (0-1) suffered the loss. The Lake County reliever pitched two innings and allowed one unearned run on one hit and one walk. Ryan fanned three Loons hitters.
The Captains lost two out of three games against Great Lakes and went 1-4 on the five-game homestand. Lake County will hit the road and head to Michigan to face the Lansing Lugnuts in a three-game series from Thursday to Saturday. First pitch on Thursday is slated 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). 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.