(Eastlake, OH) - The Lake County Captains (3-3) needed a pair of home runs on Tuesday to overcome a shaky defensive ballgame. Though the Captains committed a season-high five errors, a pair of home runs by Li-Jen Chu and Logan Ice helped lift Lake County to a 6-4 victory over the Great Lakes Loons. The win snapped a three-game skid and provided the Captains with their first victory at Classic Park this season.
Chu got the Captains' offense started in the first inning. After a two-out error by Loons shortstop Oneil Cruz allowed Todd Isaacs to reach base, Chu launched a two-run homer to left field, giving the Captains an early 2-0 edge.
Great Lakes answered with a run in the fourth inning, thanks to a Captains error. Lake County starter Micah Miniard walked Carlos Rincon with one out and Cruz followed with a single that broke up Miniard's young no-hit bid. The Loons had runners on first and second when Cody Thomas hit a hot-shot to shortstop. Rincon screen Captains shortstop Luke Wakamatsu and the ball kicked off of his glove and into the outfield, allowing Rincon to score. Miniard, however, induced a double play against the next batter to escape the inning with a one-run lead.
Ice provided insurance in the bottom half of the same frame. Chu singled against Great Lakes starter Parker Curry to lead off and Conner Capel followed with a single of his own. Curry struck out Wakamatsu, but Ice came up next and hit a high fly ball that cleared the right field wall for a three-run homer that extended Lake County's lead to 5-1.
Miniard experienced control issues in the fifth inning and ran into trouble against a patient Loons lineup. Miniard issued back-to-back one-out walks to Shakir Albert and Saige Jenco, bringing up the top of the order. Leadoff hitter Zach McKinstry then hit a ground ball to first base that could have been a double play ball. Jose Medina fielded the grounder and fired a strike to Wakamatsu for the first out, but Wakamatsu had the difficult task of throwing back to the pitcher covering first base. Wakamatsu's throw was too low for Miniard, who was hustling over from the mound, and the ball bounced away, allowing Albert to score.
Miniard was one out away from being eligible for the win and he stayed in the game to try to get through the fifth. The Captains' right-hander, however, ran out of steam. Miniard walked Brendon Davis for his third base on balls of the inning and Manager Larry Day pulled his starter from the ballgame. Ben Krauth came in and struck out Rincon to end the fifth and keep the Captains ahead, 5-2.
The Captains added an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth that looked like it might put the game away for good. Jorma Rodriguez tripled with one out and Isaacs brought him home with a single to left. The knock gave Isaacs his sixth RBI of the season and put the Captains further ahead, 6-2.
Great Lakes did not quit despite the four-run deficit and another Captains error helped the Loons inch back into the ballgame. Krauth retired the first two batters of the sixth, but Erlin Cerda committed an error at third base with two outs to keep the inning alive. Gage Green followed with a double and Albert drilled a double of his own to score both runners and trim the Captains' lead to 6-4.
The Captains walked a tight rope, but ultimately held on for the win. Henry Martinez pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth to pick up his first save of the year. Martinez gave up just one hit and then struck out the last four batters of the ballgame. Krauth (2-0) earned the win, allowing just two unearned runs over 2.1 innings. The southpaw gave up two hits, walked two and struck out three.
Curry (0-1) took the loss for Great Lakes. The Loons' starter lasted 3.2 innings and surrendered five runs, three of which were earned, on five hits. Curry walked one batter and struck out three.
The Captains and Loons have split the first two games of the series at Classic Park, setting up Wednesday's contest as the rubber match. First pitch 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.