(Eastlake, OH) - The Lake County Captains (31-38, 60-79) may have missed the playoffs, but they finished with a bang. With a 3-2 win over the Lansing Lugnuts (37-33, 80-60) in the season finale at Classic Park on Monday, the Captains closed the season with a sweep and a five-game winning streak.
Captains starter Gregori Vasquez and Lansing starter Donnie Sellers were engaged in a pitcher's duel early on, but Lansing drew first blood. With one out in the second inning, Brandon Grudzielanek gave the Lugnuts a 1-0 lead with a solo home run to left field. That was the only hit Vasquez surrendered in the first four innings.
Lake County struck back in the fourth and grabbed the lead, thanks in part to Miguel Eladio , who had a monster series. Jesse Berardi led off with a single and stole second. Two batters later, Will Benson tied a Captains record when he recorded his 82nd walk of the season, pulling even with Nick Weglarz (2007). With men on first and second and one out, Mitch Reeves knotted the score with an RBI single that brought home Berardi with the tying run. Eladio came up next and smacked a single that scored Benson to put the Captains ahead, 2-1. The single gave Eladio six RBIs on the series. He had won Saturday's game with a two-run, walk-off home run, and contributed three RBIs on Sunday.
Another solo homer evened the score in the sixth. Samad Taylor began the frame by lifting a ball into the left field bleachers off of Vasquez to tie the game at 2-2.
Eladio again pulled the Captains ahead in the seventh. He led off with a double to left field off of reliever Turner Larkins and promptly stole third base. After Dane Hutcheon worked a walk, Eric Rodriguez came up with men on the corners. Hutcheon took off for second and Rodriguez hit a grounder to shortstop for an RBI ground out that brought home Eladio to give Lake County a 3-2 lead.
The Lugnuts nearly came back in the ninth. Jonathan Teaney had recorded the final out of the eighth, stranding a runner on second that he inherited from Dakody Clemmer . Teaney started the ninth by retiring the first two Lugnuts on a ground out and a strikeout. He then walked Jesus Navarro to put the tying run on first and Freddy Rodriguez hit a bouncing ball into the shortstop hole. Daniel Schneemann made a backhand stab and a jump throw to first, but the ball skidded under Jose Vicente 's glove. Navarro moved to third on the error and Rodriguez landed on first with an infield hit. The Lugnuts then sent Norberto Obeso in to pinch run for Rodriguez and Obeso quickly stole second base. With men on second and third and two outs, Teaney fell behind Taylor, 3-1. The right-hander battled back to 3-2 and struck out Taylor looking to end the game and secure his eighth save of the year.
Clemmer (1-2) earned the win with 2.1 innings of scoreless relief. He struck out two, walked one and surrendered two hits. Vasquez did not factor in the decision, but he fired 5.1 strong innings, allowing two runs on five hits with six strikeouts and two walks.
Larkins (4-6) suffered the loss for Lansing. The reliever allowed one run over two innings with two hits, one walk and one strikeout. Sellers started and pitched six innings, allowing just two runs on five hits with four strikeouts and one walk.
The Captains closed the season with wins in five straight games. Lake County won the last two games in Fort Wayne to take the series before sweeping Lansing. The Lugnuts will head to the playoffs to face the Bowling Green Hot Rods in round one, beginning on Wednesday. Lake County has missed the postseason for the fourth year in a row and will try again in the 2019 season, which begins on April 4 at Classic Park with the Captains welcoming the Great Lakes Loons to town.
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.