(Fort Wayne, IN) - The Lake County Captains (28-38, 57-79) finished their final road trip of the season on a high note. Thanks to some early offense and clutch pitching down the stretch, the Captains clipped the Fort Wayne TinCaps (31-35, 63-72) in the rubber game of a three-game series at Parkview Field on Friday, 5-4.
Lake County jumped all over Fort Wayne starter Mason Thompson in the first inning. Todd Isaacs began the ballgame by fighting off an 0-2 pitch and dunking a single into left. Two batters later, Isaacs took off on a pitch to Jonathan Laureano and the Captains' catcher chopped a grounder inside the third base bag. Isaacs scored all the way from first and Laureano hustled to second with a double as the ball ricocheted off the stands next to the Captains' bullpen. Jose Vicente followed with a double and Thompson hit Mitch Reeves with a 3-2 pitch to load the bases with two outs. That brought up Elvis Perez , who had driven in three runs the night before. He knocked in two more runs with a single to center that plated Laureano and Vicente to give the Captains a 3-0 lead.
Laureano helped the Captains add an insurance run in the second. Tre' Gantt walked to lead off and advanced to second on a passed ball. With one out, Will Benson worked a walk and Laureano followed with a single that brought home Gantt to extend the Captains' lead to 4-0.
Fort Wayne made the game interesting in the third. Kelvin Melean hit a one-out single and Jeisson Rosario followed with a single of his own. Captains starter Nick Gallagher then balked to move the runners to second and third for Jack Suwinski. The lefty hitter pulled a line drive toward first. Vicente dove toward the line, but the ball caromed off his glove and bounced into the TinCaps bullpen. Both runners scored as Benson went to dig the ball out from behind the bullpen mound and Suwinski advanced to third with a triple. With Owen Miller at the plate, Gallagher fired a pitch that glanced off of Laureano's glove and skidded to the catcher's left. Laureano scrambled to the ball as Suwinski raced toward the plate. Laureano tossed the ball to Gallagher covering home. The pitcher reached over the sliding runner, made the catch and slapped a quick tag on Suwinski, but the runner was safe and the Captains' lead was trimmed to 4-3.
Benson gave the Captains a big insurance run with a monster homer in the sixth. With two outs and nobody on, Benson turned around a pitch from reliever Nick Kuzia and cranked a home run over the tall right field wall. It was Benson's second game in a row with a homer and it tied him for the league lead with 20 long balls. The Captains took a 5-3 lead.
Fort Wayne threatened in the eighth, but the newest Captain, Thomas Ponticelli , slammed the door. The inning began with an error by third baseman Dane Hutcheon that allowed Melean to reach first. After Rosario struck out trying to bunt, Suwinski and Miller singled to load the bases with just one out. Ponticelli then struck out Gabriel Arias and got Esteury Ruiz to swing and miss at a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.
The TinCaps rallied again in the ninth, this time against Dakody Clemmer . Agustin Ruiz began the inning by pulling a double to right and Jalen Washington followed with a single to put men on the corners with nobody out. Michael Cantu came up to pinch-hit for Chandler Seagle, but Clemmer got him to bounce to shortstop and Perez started a 6-4-3 double play. Ruiz scored to cut the Captains' advantage to one run, but Clemmer got Melean to ground out to Perez to end the ballgame. The right-hander picked up his first Midwest League save to secure the series win.
Ponticelli (1-0) earned the win in his Midwest League debut. The right-hander pitched four scoreless innings and allowed just two hits. He struck out four and walked one.
Thompson (6-8) took the loss for Fort Wayne. The TinCaps' starter allowed four runs over 3.1 innings. He gave up six hits, walked three and struck out five.
The Captains won two out of three in Fort Wayne and will wrap up the season with a three-game series at home against the Lansing Lugnuts. Game one is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on Saturday night at Classic Park.
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.