(Midland, MI) - The Lake County Captains (26-43, 53-85) battled back twice on Sunday, erasing a pair of multi-run deficits, but the Great Lakes Loons (33-36, 69-69) prevailed in the end. The Captains lost to the Loons at Dow Diamond in the penultimate game of the season, 8-7.
The Loons scored the first three runs of Sunday afternoon's contest. In the bottom of the first, Great Lakes took a 1-0 lead on an RBI double by Gavin Lux, but Captains starter Micah Miniard limited the damage. After walking the next two men after Lux to load the bases with nobody out, Miniard struck out Starling Heredia and got Jared Walker to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Great Lakes added two more runs in the second inning. Tyler Adkison led off with a double and Nick Yarnall followed with a single to put runners on the corners with nobody out. With Moises Perez at the plate, Yarnall bolted for second and Perez hit a fly ball to left field. Michael Tinsley made the catch and Adkison tagged up from third to score, but Tinsley fired back toward the infield and Miguel Eladio relayed the ball to first base to double off Yarnall. The Loons started a two-out rally, however, when Saige Jenco reached first on a swinging bunt, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Lux. The Loons took a 3-0 lead.
Lake County battled back and scored three unanswered runs to tie the score, starting with a series of fortunate events in the third. Jorma Rodriguez led off the third and struck out swinging, but the ball squeezed through the legs of catcher Connor Wong. Rodriguez raced to first base and then turned and made it second, as Wong took too long to get the baseball. Todd Isaacs came up next and hit a grounder to first that Yarnall fielded and flipped to the pitcher covering first base, but right-hander Riley Ottesen dropped the ball and Rodriguez scored from second.
The Captains evened the score with two runs in the fourth against Jeremiah Muhammad. Tinsley worked a leadoff walk and Eladio slammed a triple to the gap in right-centerfield that scored Tinsley. Rodriguez continued the inning with a walk to put runners on the corners and Isaacs followed by hitting a bouncing ball to second base. Perez fired to second to retire Rodriguez, but the Loons could not turn two and Eladio scored from third to knot the score at 3-3.
Great Lakes surged back in front in the fourth. Adkison led off with a single and Yarnall blasted a two-run homer to center to give the Loons a 5-3 lead. Miniard then walked Perez and gave up an RBI double to Jenco to push the lead to 6-3. Jenco then moved to third base when Alexis Pantoja 's relay throw sailed over Captains catcher Li-Jen Chu . Miniard exited after the Jenco double by Lux knocked a single off of reliever Cameron Mingo that plated Jenco to give the Loons a 7-3 advantage.
Once again, Lake County chipped away at the Loons' lead. In the top of the sixth, Tinsley led off with a single and Rodriguez worked a one-out walk against Muhammad. Isaacs then smoked a two-run triple to pull the Captains within two runs. Pantoja came up next and sent Isaacs home with a sacrifice fly, trimming the Loons' lead to 7-6.
Jose Vicente tied the game for the Captains in the seventh. Facing reliever Dan Jagiello, the right-handed hitter belted a fly ball over the left field wall. Vicente's sixth home run of the year evened the score at 7-7.
The Loons scored the eventual game-winning run in the seventh against Mingo. Heredia and Jared Walker hit back-to-back singles to start the inning and put runners on the corners. Adkison then hit a fly ball to left field and Heredia tagged up from third. Tinsley fired home, but Heredia barely beat the throw, sliding in under Chu's tag to give Great Lakes an 8-7 advantage.
The Captains have lost the first two games of their three-game, season-ending series at Great Lakes. Lake County faces the Loons in the 2017 season finale on Monday afternoon. First pitch at Dow Diamond is scheduled for 2:05 PM. A win will give the Loons their first winning record since 2011, while a Captains loss will saddle Lake County with a tie for the worst record in team history. The Captains, however, are four home runs away from tying the Midwest League record for most long balls in a season. Lake County has 151 and the record, set in 1961 by the Waterloo Hawks, is 155. Emmanuel Tapia is tied for the Captains' single-season home run record with 28 and needs one homer to set a new mark.
Information about Classic Park or the Captains can be found online at www.captainsbaseball.com and by phone at 440-954-WINS (9467). The Captains front office can be reached at 440-975-8085.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.