(Lansing, MI) - Jose Medina had a career day as part of an explosive Lake County Captains offense on Saturday. Medina blasted three home runs for his first career multi-homer game and the Captains' offense hammered the Lansing Lugnuts for 10 runs in the fourth inning, en route to a 17-5 victory at Cooley Law School Stadium.
Medina lifted off for the first time in the second inning. After a homer by Bradley Jones gave the Lugnuts a 2-1 lead, Medina crushed a solo homer to right field against Lansing starter Osman Gutierrez to tie the game. In the seventh, Medina went deep for the second time, this time a two-run shot against reliever Zach Jackson. Finally, in the ninth, Medina led off the inning with a no-doubt solo home run against lefty Tayler Saucedo that soared well over the tall right field wall.
Medina's third homer incited a dust-up between the Captains and Lugnuts. After turning on a pitch by Saucedo, Medina watched his homer fly over the right field wall and the Lugnuts took exception. Once Medina crossed the plate, he and Lansing catcher Michael De La Cruz exchanged words and before too long, the benches and bullpens emptied. De La Cruz was ejected following the altercation and so too were Captains third baseman Jorma Rodriguez and Lake County reliever Dalbert Siri.
Despite the post-homer incident, Medina's marquee performance was the highlight of a Captains offense that cranked out 14 hits, including four multi-hit games and five players with multi-RBI. The offense climaxed in the fourth inning. With the game tied at 2-2, Gutierrez hit Li-Jen Chu with a pitch to lead off the inning and then Emmanuel Tapia drilled a two-run home run to right field to give the Captains a 4-2 lead.
After Tapia's homer, Gutierrez walked Logan Ice on four pitches and then walked Luke Wakamatsu. Medina followed with a ringing double off the wall in right-centerfield, scoring Ice. Erlin Cerda came up next and nearly went deep. He pulled a high drive that banged off the tall wall down the left field line and raced around the bases for a two-run triple to give the Captains a 7-2 lead.
The Lugnuts made a call to the bullpen after Cerda's triple and called on right-hander Geno Encina, but the Captains kept the rally going. Conner Capel hit a sharp grounder that went under the glove of first baseman Christian Williams for a run-scoring triple and Rodriguez hit a grounder that ate up shortstop Yeltsin Gudino. Encina struck out the next batter, but Chu came up next and laced a two-run double to right-centerfield, pushing the Captains' advantage to 10-2.
Tapia followed Ice's double with a single for his second hit of the inning and that brought Ice to the plate. Batting left-handed against the righty Encina, Ice sliced an RBI double down the left field line. Tapia moved to third on Ice's double and Wakamatsu knocked him in with a sacrifice fly to cap a 10-run inning for Lake County and make the score 12-2.
The Captains added runs later on with Medina's homers, plus an RBI triple by Capel in the ninth and an RBI groundout by Todd Isaacs shortly thereafter. Capel, Tapia and Cerda each had two hits and Capel, Isaacs, Chu, Tapia and Cerda each had two RBI. Medina, however, stole the show thanks to his 4-for-5 performance with three homers, a double and five RBI.
On the mound, Juan Hillman lasted five innings in his second start of the year to secure the win. The left-hander allowed five runs on five hits, struck out four and walked three. Hillman (1-1) threw 87 pitches, 46 of which were strikes, and earned his first win since last August. Tanner Tully pitched four scoreless innings afterwards to earn the save.
Gutierrez (0-2) took the loss for Lansing. He pitched three innings and faced six batters in the fourth without recording an out. Gutierrez surrendered eight runs on five hits. He walked three and did not record a strikeout.
The Captains suffered a disappointing injury late in the ballgame. Nick Sinay led off the seventh for Lansing and floated a blooper over Tully's head. Cerda raced in from second base and tried to make a sliding catch. Cerda could not come up with the ball and he came down awkwardly on his left arm. Captains trainer Matt Beauregard and Lugnuts trainer Drew MacDonald came out to tend to Cerda. After the trainers wrapped Cerda's left arm, they removed him from the game and Alexis Pantoja played the rest of the game in Cerda's stead.
The Captains took two out of three games from Lansing, giving them their first series win of the year. Lake County will enjoy a league-wide day off on Sunday and will return to Classic Park on Monday to start a three-game series against the Bowling Green Hot Rods. First pitch on Monday 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.