(Eastlake, OH) - Will Benson led the offensive charge and the Lake County Captains (23-31, 52-72) captured a clutch win over the West Michigan Whitecaps (26-28, 62-62) on Saturday in game one of a three-game series at Classic Park. Benson tallied three hits, knocked in a run and scored another to help Lake County defeat West Michigan, 4-2.
The Captains scored in each of the first three innings against Whitecaps starter Carson Lance and Benson got the scoring started in the first. With one out, Jonathan Laureano hit a grounder to shortstop and Wenceel Perez made two errors on one play. Perez bobbled the ground ball and then threw the ball into the first base dugout to put Laureano on second. Benson then roped a line drive past the pull shift and into right field for a single. Laureano beat the throw from right fielder Brady Policelli and the Captains took a 1-0 lead.
Lake County added another run in the second inning. Todd Isaacs began the inning with a single and promptly stole second. Richard Palacios knocked in Isaacs with a single to extend the Captains' advantage to 2-0.
Captains starter Nick Gallagher pitched a pair of strong innings in his return from the Disabled List. The right-hander held the Whitecaps scoreless over the first two frames and surrendered just one hit. Policelli led off the second with a double, but Gallagher responded by striking out the next three in a row to keep West Michigan off the scoreboard.
The Whitecaps broke through with their first run in the third inning against Gregori Vasquez . Anthony Pereira began the inning by working a walk and Reece Hampton doubled with one out to put men on second and third. Perez then hit a grounder to first base that scored Pereira and trimmed the Captains' lead to 2-1.
The Captains extended their lead to 4-1 in the third inning. Benson and Jose Vicente hit back-to-back singles with one out. Elvis Perez followed and flared a ball to right-center that dunked in for a hit. Policelli over-ran the ball and slipped as he tried to reverse course. Benson and Vicente scored and Perez hustled to third with a triple as the ball rolled to the warning track.
West Michigan scored one more run in the seventh. Rosa led off the inning with a triple off of Vasquez and later scored when Pereira hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield that made the Captains' lead, 4-2.
The Whitecaps threatened in the ninth against Luis Jimenez , but a controversial call ended the game in the Captains' favor. Rosa singled with one out and moved to second on a passed ball. After Jordan Pearce lined out to shortstop, Reynaldo Rivera came up as West Michigan's final hope. Representing the tying run, Rivera battled the count to 3-2 and worked a 10-pitch at-bat. On the 10th offering from Jimenez, Rivera swung and the ball bounced off of Laureano's mitt, landing in front of the catcher. Rivera thought he had fouled the ball, but home plate umpire Jake Bruner said the batter swung and missed. Laureano picked up the baseball and tagged out Rivera for the final out.
Jimenez earned his first save since June 5, 2013. The right-hander sealed a four-out save, in which he allowed one hit and struck out one.
Vasquez (6-6) notched the win after 5.2 solid innings out of the bullpen. He gave up just two runs on two hits with four strikeouts and three walks.
Lance (0-2) has now landed in the loss column in each of his first two Midwest League starts with his loss on Saturday. He pitched 4.2 innings and surrendered four runs - three earned - on six hits. Lance struck out two, walked two and hit Isaacs with a pitch.
The Captains have won two in a row and picked up an important win against West Michigan, who entered Saturday's game in the Wild Card position and four games ahead of the Captains. Lake County plays game two against the Whitecaps on Sunday night. First pitch at Classic Park is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
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.