(Burlington, IA) - Juan Hillman is getting accustomed to long, fruitful starts. Hillman made it through seven innings for the third time in his last four starts on Saturday, stifling the Burlington Bees (9-14, 40-52) to capture his second straight victory. The Lake County Captains (11-11, 38-53) took the first game of their three-game set at Community Field in Burlington, 4-1.
Hillman was dialed in early. After walking the first batter in the first inning, he retired the next three he faced to leave a baserunner stranded at second base. Shortly thereafter, the Captains took the lead.
Lake County plated the first run of the game in the top of the second. Emmanuel Tapia led off with a single against Bees lefty starter Nate Bertness, breaking an 0-for-18 skid. Logan Ice followed with a line drive to left-centerfield. Bees left fielder Derek Jenkins tried to make a diving stop on Ice's liner, but came up empty and the ball skipped all the way to the wall. Tapia scored from first with ease and Ice cruised into second base with an RBI double to give Lake County a 1-0 lead.
Hillman got some help in the bottom of the second when Miguel Eladio made a diving stop to rob Artemis Kadkhodaian of a hit. With Eladio's help, Hillman blanked Burlington again in the second, giving up just one measly single and leaving the runner on first.
The Captains grabbed a pair of insurance runs in the third inning. Alexis Pantoja hit a leadoff single and Conner Capel singled to move Pantoja to third base. With runners on the corners and nobody out Luke Wakamatsu lifted a sacrifice fly to right field that brought home Pantoja. Li-Jen Chu then hit an RBI single the plate Capel and give Lake County a 3-0 lead.
The Bees scored their only tally in the third. With one out and nobody on base, Burlington leadoff hitter Jahmai Jones homered to left field. Hillman gave up a single later in the inning, but left the runner stranded and the Captains remained on top, 3-1.
Hillman cruised through his final four frames on the mound. He allowed just two singles from the fourth through the seventh and never allowed a runner to move beyond first base. Hillman allowed a one-out single in the fourth, but left the runner on board and he gave up a one-out single in the fifth, but induced an inning-ending double play. Hillman retired the last seven men he faced, beginning with the fifth-inning twin killing.
Hillman (5-4) only needed 74 pitches to make it through seven innings and the southpaw earned his second consecutive win. He allowed just one run on five hits, struck out three and walked one. Hillman became the third straight Captains starter to turn in a quality start. Brady Aiken picked up a quality start on Friday in Peoria and Tanner Tully did so on Thursday.
Capel gave the Captains an insurance run after Hillman left the ballgame. With one out and nobody on in the eighth, Capel drilled a solo home run to right field against left-handed reliever Ronnie Glenn. The blast gave the Captains a 4-1 lead.
Ryder Ryan nailed down the final three outs to earn his sixth save of the season. Ryan hit the first batter of the ninth, but induced a 6-4-3 double play and struck out Stephen Kerr to finish off the Captains' victory.
Bertness (3-8) suffered the loss for the Bees. Burlington's lefty allowed three runs over five innings on the hill. He gave up six hits, struck out five and did not issue a walk.
The Captains have won two games in a row and saddled Burlington with its fourth straight defeat. Lake County faces the Bees again on Sunday afternoon. First pitch at Community Field is scheduled for 3:00 PM EST.
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). 12- and 20-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.