(Burlington, IA) - The Lake County Captains (11-12, 38-54) came within just one run of completing their biggest comeback of the season on Sunday. Lake County trailed the Burlington Bees (10-14, 41-52) by six runs early, but stormed back and scored five runs from the sixth to the eighth. The Captains' comeback effort, however, fell short in a 7-6 loss at Community Field.
Sunday's game began in strange fashion. The start of the game was delayed 15 minutes due to inclement weather and first pitch was thrown at 3:18 PM EST. Lake County started to rally, as Conner Capel led off the game with a single and Luke Wakamatsu drew a walk, but hard rain began to fall. Mitch Longo came up next and, after the first pitch to the lefty hitter, the rain became too much to handle and the Bees' grounds crew put the tarp on the field. The game was delayed for one hour and six minutes before play resumed.
Burlington took control of the game after the delay. The Captains scored a run in the top of the first on a sacrifice fly by Emmanuel Tapia, but the Bees responded with the game-tying run in the bottom of the inning without registering a hit. Jahmai Jones led off with a walk and stole second. Richie Fecteau then bounced a grounder to first base and Jose Medina stumbled as he went to throw to the pitcher, Micah Miniard, who was covering first base. Medina threw as he fell and spiked the ball into the ground. Jones scored from second as the ball skipped toward the first base dugout.
The Bees roared in front in the second with a six-run inning. After retiring the first two batters, Miniard walked Derek Jenkins and Jones. Fecteau then plated two runs with a single and Brennan Morgan followed with a run-scoring single. Justin Garza relieved Miniard after Morgan's hit, but the right-hander walked Julian Leon and gave up a two-run double to Sam McDonnell. Artemis Kadkhodaian then singled home another run to cap the inning and give the Bees a 7-1 lead. Burlington sent 10 men to the plate, tallied four hits and worked three walks.
Burlington had a big cushion and the Captains could not solve Bees starter Erik Manoah. The right-hander shut down the Captains over five innings and held Lake County to one unearned run on one hit. Capel led off the game with a single, but Manoah did not give up another hit the rest of his outing. Manoah (5-5) walked two batters, hit one and struck out a pair, eventually earning the win.
The Captains' comeback began against Burlington reliever Ty Barkell. Longo led off the sixth inning and reached base when Kadkhodaian dropped a pop up in no-man's land in shallow right field. Longo then stole second and scored on an RBI single by Li-Jen Chu. Lake County then added another run in the seventh when Longo's sacrifice fly brought Alexis Pantoja home.
Zac Ryan came in to pitch the eighth, but the Captains' bats remained hot and, once again, they capitalized on a costly error. Jose Medina led off with a single and Miguel Eladio followed with a one-out single, two batters later. Pantoja then bounced a ball to first base and the ball slid under Morgan's glove for an error that loaded the bases. Capel came up next and grounded out to first base, but Pantoja scored and the Bees' lead was trimmed to 7-4. Wakamatsu came up next and slammed a double down the right field line. Eladio and Pantoja scored to pull the Captains within one run at 7-6.
The Bees held on tight the rest of the way. Ryan stranded Wakamatsu on second base in the eighth, getting Longo to sky out to center. The right-hander then worked a one-two-three ninth inning to seal the win.
Miniard (2-9) took the loss for Lake County. He pitched 1.2 innings and allowed five runs, four of which were earned. The Bees tallied two hits against Miniard, who walked three, hit one batter and struck out one.
The Captains and Bees have split the first two games of their three-game series and will play the rubber game on Monday night. First pitch at Community Field is scheduled for 7:30 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.