(Eastlake, OH) - Led by the top of the lineup and another lights-out performance by the bullpen, the Lake County Captains (21-15) clinched their second straight one-run victory with a 5-4 win over the Fort Wayne TinCaps on Tuesday night at Classic Park. The top of the order combined to go 6-for-15 with three runs and four RBI, while the bullpen held the TinCaps to one run over 5.1 innings in relief of Luis Oviedo .
The top of the Captains' lineup got the home side off to a hot start. With Fort Wayne starter Efrian Contreras on the hill, Bo Naylor socked a leadoff double to right-center to begin the bottom of the first. After Contreras got the next two hitters, Mitch Reeves took a 3-2 deep over the left-centerfield wall to give the Captains a 2-0 lead.
Oviedo got into trouble in the second and the TinCaps nearly tied the game. After a lead off walk to Juan Fernandez, Oviedo hit Nick Feight to put runners on first and second with nobody out. Lee Solomon then struck out on a check swing, but Jawuan Harris drew a walk to load the bases for the top of the order. Xavier Edwards popped a ball up to shallow center and Quentin Holmes dove, but the ball that was just out of his reach. Fernandez scored to cut the Captains' lead to 2-1, but the Captains caught a break. When the play was seemingly over, Edwards started jogging back to the third base dugout and the Captains tagged him out. Holmes tossed to Freeman, who threw to Reeves for the tag play to record out number two. That helped Oviedo get out of the inning with the lead intact. He got Tucupita Marcano to ground out to second to end the inning.
The Captains extended their lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the third, again with the help of the top of the lineup. Nine-hitter Connor Smith led off the bottom of the inning with a hard hit ground ball single between the shortstop and third base. After Smith took second base on a delayed steal, Naylor ripped his second double of the night to score Smith and extend the Captains lead to two runs.
Fort Wayne rallied to take the lead in the fourth. Fernandez led off with a single and Solomon worked a one-out walk. Harris then grounded to third for a fielder's choice that forced out Solomon at second base and Kellen Rholl came in to relieve Oviedo with men on the corners and one out for the top of the order. Edwards greeted Rholl with an RBI single that plated Fernandez and Marcano followed with a two-run single to put the TinCaps ahead, 4-3.
Lake County came back to tie the score in the bottom of the sixth. Benson started the rally when, with a one-out, he hit a ball off the end of the bat into shallow right for a single. Then, with Reeves at the plate, Benson swiped second and advanced to third when Fernandez, the TinCaps' catcher, skipped the throw into centerfield. Reeves then knotted the score at 4-4 with a hard ground ball single through the left side of Fort Wayne's drawn-in infield. The grounder skipped past Lopez at short and Benson scored the tying run.
The Captains jumped back in front for good in the bottom of the eighth inning. With reliever Jose Quezada on the hill, Freeman drove a pitch to right-centerfield that just evaded the reach of Harris' glove. As the ball tipped off the centerfielder's mitt, Freeman to motored to third base for his second triple of the year. Quezada struck out Benson for the second out and the TinCaps opted to intentionally walk Reeves to put men on the corners, but it did not matter. With Ruben Cardenas at the plate, Quezada uncorked a wild pitch and Freeman scored from third to give the Captains the lead, 5-4.
Captains lefty Zach Draper shut the door in the ninth, working around a one-out hit-by-pitch, and earned the win. Draper (2-0) pitched two scoreless innings out of the bullpen and held Fort Wayne to one hit with one walk and one strikeout.
Quezada (3-1) took the loss after allowing the go-ahead run to score. The right-hander pitched two innings in relief and allowed one run on one hit with one walk and two strikeouts.
The Captains have clinched a series win with back-to-back one-run victories over Fort Wayne and will go for the sweep on Wednesday morning. First pitch at Classic Park is scheduled for 11:00 a.m.
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 2019 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.