(Lansing, MI) - The Lake County Captains (21-27, 48-69) led twice on Saturday night, but watched both leads evaporate against the Lansing Lugnuts (20-28, 57-57). Lansing erased a three-run deficit in the sixth, a two-run deficit in the seventh and Edward Olivares provided the heroics in for the home side in the ninth. Olivares' RBI single broke a 6-6 tie and lifted Lansing to a walk-off win at Cooley Law School Stadium, 7-6.
Junior Soto had tied the game for Lake County in the eighth. His towering solo homer to left field against reliever Geno Encina came with Lansing ahead by one run and knotted the score at 6-6. After the Lugnuts failed to score in the bottom of the eighth and the Captains went down quietly in the top of the ninth, Lansing rallied in the bottom of the ninth against Alsis Herrera .
Rodrigo Orozco started off the inning with a double. Herrera got Joshua Palacios to pop out to left and Lake County opted to intentionally walk Nash Knight to bring up Mitch Nay. Herrera, however, hit Nay to load the bases for Olivares. The Captains pulled the infield in with the game on the line and Olivares shot a grounder through the right side to score Orozco with the winning run.
Saturday's contest started strong for the Captains. Sean Brady retired the first 11 Lansing hitters he faced before Knight's two-out double in the fourth broke up the perfect game and no-hitter. Brady still cruised through five shutout innings and only gave up one hit with no walks and three strikeouts.
The Captains offense gave Brady support with one run in the fourth and two more in the fifth. In the fourth, Conner Capel led off with a triple against starter Patrick Murphy and Li-Jen Chu singled him home. The following inning, Gabriel Mejia bunted to lead off and Murphy fumbled the ball to put the speedster on first and Luke Wakamatsu followed with a single. After Alexis Pantoja sacrifice bunted to move both runners into scoring position, catcher Ridge Smith tried to pick off Mejia at third base, but the snap throw sailed into left field. Mejia scored easily and Wakamatsu chugged around third. Orozco fired home, but Smith dropped the ball as Wakamatsu slid in. Smith was charged with two errors and the Captains scored two runs to take a 3-0 lead.
Lansing evened the score in the sixth against Captains right-hander Micah Miniard . Luis Silva led off the inning with a double and Palacios knocked im in with an RBI single. After Knight doubled for the second time to put runners on second and third, Nay produced an RBI ground out that scored Palacios. Olivares then singled home Knight to tie the score at 3-3.
Lake County jumped back in front in the seventh inning with a pair of runs. Murphy remained in the game, but Mejia led off with a single and Murphy walked Wakamatsu. Encina came in, but balked to move runners to second and third. Pantoja then singled to give the Captains the lead and Capel produced a sacrifice fly that scored Wakamatsu to give Lake County a 5-3 lead.
Once again, the Lugnuts came from behind, this time to take the lead. Smith began the seventh with a double and then Miniard hit Silva. Orozco came up next and rolled a grounder in front of the plate. Logan Ice went to pick up the ball, but lost the handle and the Lugnuts had the bases loaded with nobody out. Two batters later, Knight hit a one-out single to bring home both Smith and Silva, tying the score at 5-5.
The Captains then had a chance to end the inning still tied, but failed to turn a key double play. Nay grounded to third base. Pantoja fired to second for the second out of the inning, but Miguel Eladio 's throw to first was in the dirt and Emmanuel Tapia could not scoop it. Orozco scored to give Lansing its first lead at 6-5.
Soto's solo homer forced bottom-of-the-ninth dramatics, but Olivares was the hero for Lansing in the end. Herrera (4-2), having given up the winning run, took the loss. The lefty pitched 1.1 innings and allowed one run on three hits. He walked one batter, hit a batter and struck out one.
Encina (4-2) picked up the win in relief. He pitched three innings and allowed one run on a pair of hits. He walked two and struck out five.
The Captains have won two out of their first three at Lansing and will finish up the four-game series on Sunday afternoon. First pitch at Cooley Law School Stadium is slated for 2:05 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.