(South Bend, IN) - Tuesday night was nearly disastrous for the Lake County Captains (21-29, 50-70), but Jesse Berardi saved the day. Lake County relinquished a 2-0 lead in the ninth inning, but Berardi blasted a three-run homer in the 10th to propel the Captains to a 5-2 victory over the South Bend Cubs (22-29, 56-64). The win earned the Captains a split in the four-game series at Four Winds Field.
Captains starter Francisco Perez mowed down the Cubs over 6.2 shutout innings. The left-hander surrendered just two hits, a two-out single by Chris Singleton in the third and a two-out single by Jimmy Herron in the seventh. Perez struck out seven for the second start in a row and walked just one.
Cubs starter Jeffrey Passantino also pitched well, but the Captains got to him with two big swings. With the game still scoreless and two outs in the fifth, Jonathan Laureano hammered a solo home run over the left-centerfield fence. The very next inning, Todd Isaacs led off the frame with a homer to straightaway left to give the Captains a 2-0 lead.
Laureano also had a double and produced two of the Captains' four hits against Passantino. Oscar Gonzalez had the other hit, a single in the sixth that extended his hitting streak to nine games. The South Bend starter pitched seven innings and surrendered two runs on four hits with five strikeouts and no walks.
Riley Echols carried the Captains' shutout into the ninth. The right-hander pitched 1.1 innings in relief of Perez without allowing a run or a hit. In the ninth, however, the Cubs stormed back.
Jonathan Teaney took over for Echols and faced Christian Donahue, pinch-hitting for Clayton Daniel in the leadoff spot. Donahue poked a 3-2 pitch down the left field line for a leadoff double. Rafael Narea came up next and hit a pop up behind first base. Will Benson raced in from right and Richard Palacios ran back from second, but the ball fell between them for a single. After Teaney got Miguel Amaya to pop out to shortstop, the right-hander walked Austin Filiere to load the bases. Jimmy Herron followed and worked the count full before slapping a single past the diving Palacios and into right. Donahue and Narea scored to tie the score at 2-2. Teaney then struck out Delvin Zinn and Robert Broom came in and retired Cam Balego on a ground out to first to send the game to extra innings.
Erlin Cerda pinch ran for Jose Vicente and began the 10th inning as the free runner on second base. South Bend brought right-hander Ben Hecht in from the bullpen to relieve Maikel Aguiar, who had pitched a pair of scoreless and hitless innings. Hecht retired the first two men he faced, but Laureano battled the reliever to a full count and worked a walk. With two on and two outs, Berardi yanked a 1-1 pitch high to right field. Singleton retreated, turned at the wall and watched the ball sail over for a three-run shot to give Lake County a 5-2 lead.
Broom made quick work of the Cubs in the bottom of the 10th and earned the win. The right-hander got Jose Gutierrez to ground out to second for the first out. Balego, the free runner, advanced to third and stayed there when Singleton lined out to Benson in right for the second out. Broom then struck out Donahue swinging to end the game. Broom (1-1) earned his first professional win in the process, blanking the Cubs and holding them hitless over 1.1 innings. He struck out one and did not walk a batter.
Hecht (4-1) took the loss thanks to Berardi's bomb. The Cubs' righty gave up three runs - two earned - over one inning of work. Hecht allowed three hits, walked one and struck out one.
The Captains won the first and last games of their three-game series in South Bend, losing the middle two games by one run each. Lake County travels to Dayton next to play a three-game series against the Dragons. Game one is scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday night at Fifth Third Field.
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.