(Eastlake, OH) - The Lake County Captains (20-18, 60-47) showed moxie on Wednesday, rallying to tie the game three times and forcing extra innings with a ninth-inning comeback against the Lansing Lugnuts (19-19, 51-56). In the end, however, the Captains fell short in a 10-8 loss to the Lugnuts in 10 innings at Classic Park. The game lasted a season-long four hours and 26 minutes.
For the second day in a row, Lansing took the lead just two batters into the ballgame. Otto Lopez led off the game with a double to left and scored on an RBI single by Hunter Steinmetz into centerfield. Captains starter Alex Royalty then walked Gabriel Moreno, but escaped the jam with a line-out double play and a ground out to keep the score at 1-0, Lansing.
Lansing added two more runs in the second, again thanks to Lopez. With two outs and nobody aboard, Tanner Kirwer reached on an infield single and Lopez tripled to right. He then scored on a wild pitch to push the Lugnuts' lead to 3-0.
Lake County scored three runs on just two hits in the bottom of the second to tie the game. Lugnuts starter Cobi Johnson hit Jonathan Engelmann to start the inning and Cody Farhat reached on an infield single. A wild pitch moved the runners to second and third, and Connor Smith knocked in Engelmann with a sacrifice fly to right. A balk later in the inning brought Farhat home and Ike Freeman hit an RBI single to left that plated Eric Rodriguez , who had walked earlier in the inning, to tie the game at 3-3.
The Lugnuts regained the lead in the third on a missile off the bat of Griffin Conine. After Moreno led off with a single, Conine drilled a two-run home run over the stilted signs in right-center to give the Lugnuts a 5-3 lead.
The Captains came back to tie the score again with a run in the bottom of the third and another in the fourth. In the third, Johnson walked Quentin Holmes to begin the inning, but caught a break with a strikeout-throw-out double play. He then walked Jose Fermin and Engelmann before the Lugnuts called on Justin Watts to relieve the starter. With Watts on the mound, the Captains' runners took off on a double steal. Catcher Ryan Gold fired to third, but the ball got away from Johnny Aiello and Fermin scored on the throwing error. In the fourth, Holmes knocked in Clark Scolamiero with a double to tie the game at 5-5.
Lansing jumped back ahead in the top of the fifth. Reliever Luis Araujo hit Moreno to start the frame and issued a walk to Conine. Moreno later tagged up from second and got to third on a fly out to right and a wild pitch brought the runner home from third to give Lansing a 6-5 advantage.
The score held at 6-5 until the top of the ninth, when Lansing added a pair of insurance runs to push their lead to 8-5. With Kyle Marman on the hill, Moreno and Conine worked back-to-back walks to start the inning. Gold followed and bunted toward third, but Marman's throw to third was late. Lansing had the bases loaded with nobody out, but could only scratch across two runs, one on a wild pitch that scored Moreno and another on a sacrifice fly by Aiello that plated Conine.
The Captains battled back to tie the score in the bottom of the ninth. Josh Hiatt had held the Captains scoreless in the eighth and was on the rubber again in the ninth. With one out and nobody aboard, Bo Naylor hit a line drive to left, but Kirwer dropped the baseball. Fermin followed with a bloop single and Engelmann smashed a single into center that scored Naylor. After a wild pitch put men on second and third, Hiatt walked Farhat to load the bases. Scolamiero hit a chopper to second base for the second out, but Fermin scored and the Captains' deficit was trimmed to one run with two outs and runners on second and third. Smith stepped up to the plate and hit a high bouncer toward third. Aiello charged and tried to field the hopper, but the ball kicked off his glove for an infield single, as Engelmann raced home with the tying run.
Lansing took the lead back in the 10th with a couple of runs against Kellen Rholl that decided the game. D.J. Neal began the inning on second base, pinch running for LJ Talley as the Lugnuts' free runner, per Minor League Baseball's extra inning rules. Kirwer led off with a bunt single that moved Neal up to third and Lopez lined a single to left that brought home Neal with the go-ahead run. The Lugnuts loaded the bases when the Captains intentionally walked Moreno with one out. After Rholl struck out Conine looking, Gold pulled a grounder into right field. Kirwer scored to give Lansing a 10-8 lea, but Farhat threw Lopez out at home to end the inning.
Lefty Marcus Reyes shut out the Captains in the ninth to seal the victory for Lansing and earn the win for himself. Reyes (6-1) worked 1.1 innings in total and did not allow a run or a hit. He did not issue a walk or record a strikeout either.
Rholl (1-3) took the loss. The lefty pitched one inning and surrendered two runs, one earned, on three hits. Rholl struck out one and walked one.
The Captains have lost the first two games of their four-game series with Lansing and the teams play game three on Thursday night. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at Classic Park.
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.