(Fort Wayne, IN) - The Lake County Captains (27-38, 56-79) set a season-high with 18 hits and tied a season-high with 12 runs on Thursday to clinch the season series over the Fort Wayne TinCaps (31-34, 63-71). Will Benson provided the highlight with his third grand slam of the season to help the Captains defeat Fort Wayne in game two of a three-game series at Parkview Field, 12-4.
Lake County took the lead in the second inning thanks to Jesse Berardi 's hustle. Berardi led off the inning with a walk and then stole both second and third. Elvis Perez then lifted a fly ball to center that plated Berardi with the game's first run.
Fort Wayne countered in the bottom of the third and evened the score at 1-1. Aldemar Burgos singled, advanced to second on a passed ball and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Jeisson Rosario. Jack Suwinski then singled home Burgos to tie the game.
The Captains took the lead back in the fourth. Mitch Reeves singled with one out and Perez served a line drive down the right field line that got lodged under the TinCaps' bullpen bench. Reeves raced home as Burgos had trouble digging the ball out. Burgos' throw home sailed over catcher Michael Cantu's head. Cantu leaped and could not come up with the baseball, but his jump put him squarely in Reeves' way. Reeves slowed down to avoid a collision and pitcher Joey Cantillo, who was backing up the play, caught the ball and lunged at the stalled Reeves. The runner barely snuck in and scored ahead of the tag attempt to give the Captains a 2-1 lead.
The fourth inning continued with a two-out walk to Dane Hutcheon and a single by Todd Isaacs that loaded the bases. That brought Benson to the plate. On a 1-2 pitch, Benson cracked a high line drive toward the tall right field wall. The ball hit the top of the wall and caromed off the railing above the fence for a grand slam. Benson's third grand slam of the season and his 19th homer gave Lake County a 6-1 advantage.
Fort Wayne rallied in the bottom of the fourth to make the game interesting again. Esteury Ruiz led off with a single, Nick Feight followed with a double and Captains starter Francisco Perez walked Cantu to load the bases. Perez then issued another walk, this time to Jalen Washington, allowing Ruiz to score. Burgos then hit a sacrifice fly that scored Feight. After Perez struck out Rosario looking, Jonathan Teaney came in from the Captains' bullpen. The right-hander, however, walked Suwinski to load the bases again and then walked Owen Miller to force in Cantu and cut the Captains' lead to 6-4.
The Captains scored the next six runs without an answer. In the sixth, Isaacs led off with an infield single and stole second. Jose Vicente later worked a walk with two outs and the Captains delivered three straight RBI singles. Berardi singled to right to score Isaacs, Reeves chopped a single to center that brought Vicente home and Perez delivered his third RBI and his third hit of the night, a single to center that scored Berardi and pushed the Captains' lead to 9-4.
Hutcheon keyed another Captains rally in the seventh. After he led off with a single off of lefty Danny Sexton, Isaacs and Benson singled to load the bases. Joshua Rolette then worked a walk to score Hutcheon. The TinCaps escaped the rest of the inning without allowing another run. Sexton got Vicente to ground back to the mound and the pitcher started a 1-2-3 double play. Berardi then drilled a line drive down the first base line, but Washington made a diving catch to end the inning and keep the Captains' lead at 10-4.
Lake County plated two more runs in the ninth. Hutcheon again began the rally with a single, this time off of backup catcher Chandler Seagle, who had come in to pitch. Benson walked with one out and Rolette drilled a line drive double into the right field corner. Both runners scored to give the Captains a 12-4 lead. Berardi later singled to right, but Burgos threw Rolette out at the plate to end the inning.
Seven different Captains tallied multiple hits on Thursday. Benson, Isaacs, Berardi and Perez each tallied three hits, while Rolette, Reeves and Hutcheon each had two hits. Benson's grand slam gave him a game-high four RBIs, while Rolette and Perez each drove home three.
Captains reliever Jonathan Teaney earned the win. Teaney (3-3) pitched 2.1 scoreless and hitless innings. He struck out a pair and walked three.
Cantillo (0-1) took the loss in his Midwest League debut. The lefty pitched 3.2 innings and surrendered four runs on four hits. He struck out five and walked three.
Lake County has split the first two games of the three-game series. The rubber game will be the Captains' final road game of the season. First pitch at Parkview Field is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. on Friday night.
Information about Classic Park or the Captains can be found online at www.captainsbaseball.com and by phone at 440-954-WINS (9467). Affordable ticket packages and group party and picnic options are available now.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.