(Eastlake, OH) - A season-high sellout crowd of 8,672 packed Classic Park on Saturday for Cleveland Sports History Night and Juan Hillman gave them a show. The southpaw held the West Michigan Whitecaps (29-11, 74-33) to just two runs over the first seven innings, but West Michigan still defeated the Lake County Captains (18-23, 45-65) in the first game of a five-game series, 5-0.
Hillman started strong. After allowing a leadoff single to Derek Hill in the first, the left-hander retired 12 consecutive Whitecaps hitters.
Unfortunately for Hillman and the Captains, Whitecaps starter Eudis Idrogo was equally effective. The West Michigan lefty pitched six shutout innings and Lake County only threatened to score twice. In the second inning, Michael Tinsley and Miguel Eladio hit back-to-back two-out singles and were left stranded on the corners.
The following inning, Gabriel Mejia led off with a single, moved to second on a ground out and advanced to third when Idrogo's pick-off throw to second base hit Mejia's helmet and ricocheted away. Li-Jen Chu then bounced a grounder to third and Isaac Paredes threw Mejia out at the plate to effectively end the Captains' scoring threat.
Hillman continued to mow down Whitecaps hitters until Isaac Paredes broke up his streak. Paredes singled to lead off the fifth and Anthony Pereira followed with a single. Hillman nearly escaped the inning. He got Dylan Burdeaux to bounce into a 5-4-3 double play, but Austin Athmann came up next and yanked a single into left that scored Paredes with the game's first run.
After Idrogo set the Captains down in order in both the fifth and the sixth, Paredes struck again for West Michigan. The Whitecaps' third baseman led off the seventh inning by hammering a solo home run over the left field wall to give West Michigan a 2-0 lead. It was Paredes' first home run since being traded from the Chicago Cubs' organization at the trade deadline and moving from South Bend to West Michigan.
Hillman retired the next three hitters after Paredes' homer and remained in the game to pitch the eighth. Cam Warner led off the inning with a single. After Hillman retired Hill on a grounder back to the mound, Danny Woodrow dropped down a bunt base hit to put runners on the corners with one out. Hillman was lifted from the game after Woodrow's hit and lefty Zack Draper came in from the bullpen for his Captains debut. After Draper struck out Cole Bauml, Danny Pinero laced a single up the middle that scored both Warner and Woodrow to give the Whitecaps a 4-0 lead. Both runs were charged to Hillman.
West Michigan added one more run against Draper in the ninth. Pereira hit a leadoff double and then stole third. Burdeaux knocked him in with a single to extend West Michigan's lead to 5-0. Draper fell into a deeper hole later in the inning, but left runners stranded on second and third by striking out two straight batters looking to end the inning.
Idrogo (6-4) earned the win for the Whitecaps. The southpaw pitched six scoreless innings and gave up four hits. He struck out six and walked one. Right-hander John Schreiber pitched the final three innings to complete the shutout and earn his eighth save. Schreiber gave up two hits, walked one batter and struck out three.
Idrogo and Schreiber combined for West Michigan's team-record 22nd shutout of the season. The Whitecaps are one shutout away from tying the Midwest League record for most shutouts in a season, set in 1974 by Quad Cities.
Hillman (5-7) took the loss despite the strong start. The Captains' starter allowed just one run through six innings and two runs through seven, but finished with four runs on his ledger over 7.1 frames. Hillman gave up nine hits, struck out four and did not walk a batter.
The Captains have lost four in a row and will try to halt their skid on Sunday. Lake County and West Michigan play a doubleheader at Classic Park, making up for a rain-out on July 10. First pitch for game one is scheduled for 5:00 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.