(Eastlake, OH) - The Lake County Captains (4-2) split their doubleheader on Tuesday against the Bowling Green Hot Rods (3-3) to kick off a four-game series. Bowling Green took game one in 10 innings, 6-3, and Lake County won game two in blowout fashion, 13-4.
The Hot Rods started off the scoring in the top of the second with back to back RBI hits against Captains starter Alex Royalty . Jake Palomaki sent a liner to left plating Connor Hollis with the first run of the game to put the Hot Rods up, 1-0. The scoring continued for Bowling Green when Michael Smith sent one right back up the middle for an RBI single to make it a two-run lead.
Lake County answered right back with two runs of its own in the bottom of the second. Before the Captains earned their first hit, Josh Rolette worked a walk and raced all the way to third when Palomaki dropped a fly ball in left off the bat of Quentin Holmes . Ulysses Cantu then plated the the Captains' first run on a groundout to second that brought home Rolette. Marcos Gonzalez then broke through with the Captains' first hit, tying the game with an RBI double to deep left center to even the score at 2-2.
The next few innings turned into a pitcher's duel with neither Royalty nor Hot Rods starter Alan Strong budging. Royalty tossed three straight scoreless innings for the Captains and finished his day retiring the last ten batters he faced. Royalty's day was done after five total innings of work. He gave up two runs on five hits and struck out six. Strong threw three straight scoreless innings, as well, with a final line of five innings pitched, two runs on just one hit and seven strikeouts for Bowling Green.
Still tied after a shortened seven inning game, the Captains and Hot Rods went into extras. Per Minor League Baseball rules, both teams started with a free runner on second in each extra frame. After Bowling Green failed to capitalize in the top of the eighth, the Hot Rods found themselves in some trouble in the bottom half. Cantu started it off for the Captains with a sacrifice bunt, but catcher Chris Betts tried to throw Holmes, the lead runner at third, and came up short, putting runners at the corners and with one out. Jose Fermin then drew a walk to load the bases for Lake County. With the bases loaded, Bowling Green brought Palomaki in from left field for a five-man infield and got out of the jam in a crazy sequence. Tyler Freeman hit a sharp grounder to Palomaki, who was stationed between third and shortstop. The outfielder-turned-infielder ranged to his left, collected the grounder and threw home to force out Holmes at the plate. Betts then fired to first to try and double up Freeman, but the Hot Rods catcher skipped the throw and it went between Kaleo Johnson's legs at first. Cantu tried to score all the way from second, but Johnson gunned him down at the plate to end the inning.
Both sides were still unable to produce any runs over the next two innings until the top of the 10th. Ford Proctor batted in the first run in seven innings with an RBI single to right that scored Palomaki to put Bowling Green up, 3-2. The Hot Rods scored again when Chris Betts sent a liner to right that plated Proctor, followed by another run that came in after Johnson hit into a fielder's choice that brought home Osmy Gregorio to give the Hot Rods a three-run lead. The Captains were finally able to get out of the inning, but not before another run scored for Bowling Green on an RBI single by Tony Pena that knocked in Johnson. Ruben Cardenas put an end to the frame by throwing out Grant Witherspoon trying to score on Pena's single.
The Captains tried to rally in the bottom of the 10th, but could only muster one run on a Rolette RBI double that brought home Bo Naylor . Nick Padilla picked up the win in relief for the Hot Rods, allowing one run over two innings of relief work. Padilla (1-0) struck out five, walked one and allowed two hits. Dakody Clemmer was saddled with the loss. Clemmer (0-1) pitched three innings out of the bullpen and allowed four runs, three earned, on four hits. He walked two, hit one batter and struck out two.
In game two, the Captains got off to a fast start scoring the game's first run in the bottom of the first by way of a Cardenas RBI single up the middle. It was the start of a hot game for Cardenas, who led the Captains' offense with a 3-for-4 performance that included a double, two RBI, a run and three stolen bases.
The Captains kept it going in the second inning. Mitch Reeves started it off with a double to deep left centerfield, advanced to third on a groundout by Jesse Berardi and crossed the plate on an Easton McGee wild pitch to put Lake County up 2-0.
After three scoreless innings of work Captains starter Zach Draper was able to get himself out of a bases loaded jam that ended when Bryce Brown grounded out to short to end the inning. He did not factor in the decision, but the Lake County left-hander tossed four shutout frames and allowed just three hits, while striking out two and walking one. McGee, the Hot Rods' righty starter, was pulled after just 3.1 innings and 50 pitches. He allowed two runs on five hits and struck out three.
Brady Aiken came on in relief for Lake County in the fifth and gave up the lead with a pair of walks, two wild pitches and a Connor Hollis double. After getting the first out, Aiken walked Michael Smith and Wander Franco before throwing two wild pitches, the second of which scored Smith from third. Hollis' double plated Franco with the tying run to make it 2-2.
In the bottom of the fifth the Captains got their runs back in spades. Lake County tagged the Hot Rods for nine runs, including six against reliever Miguel Lara. After Freeman began the inning with a line drive double to left-center, Will Benson knocked him in with a single to right and Cardenas followed with an RBI double. Berardi added a sacrifice fly later in the inning, Angel Lopez knocked in a run with a groundout and the Captains scored three more on wild pitches by reliever Chris Gau. When Gau failed to record an out, Bowling Green brought in Hollis from first base to pitch and, on the first pitch he threw, Benson cracked at two-run homer to cap off the nine-run to give the Captains an 11-2 lead.
The Hot Rods collected a pair of runs in the sixth on an RBI double by Bryce Brown and a sacrifice fly by Palomaki, but the Captains closed out the win and the doubleheader split. Aaron Pinto pitched 2.2 innings in relief and picked up the win. Pinto (1-0) was charged with the Hot Rods' runs in the sixth, but both were unearned after a throwing error by Freeman started the frame. He struck out five, walked one and surrendered one hit. Lara (0-1) took the loss. He allowed six runs in 1.1 innings on three hits, four walks and one strikeout.
The Captains and Hot Rods play game three of their four-game series on Wednesday night at Classic Park. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 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.