(Eastlake, OH) - Ruben Cardenas fell just a double shy of the cycle and the Lake County Captains (37-26) benefited from seven walks and six hit-batsmen in a win over the Lansing Lugnuts (28-34) on Monday night at Classic Park. Cardenas tripled, homered and singled to help lead the Captains to a 10-4 win and a split in the four-game series.
The Captains jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Bo Naylor led off with a double off of Lugnuts starter Troy Watson. With one out and Will Benson at the plate, the Lugnuts employed a pull shift and Naylor took advantage. The Captains' catcher took third before Watson could throw a pitch. Benson then hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield that brought Naylor home. Cardenas came up next and hit a triple off the right-centerfield wall. A passed ball later scored Cardenas to push the Captains' lead to 2-0.
The Lugnuts rebounded with three runs in the top of the second to take a 3-2 lead. Ryan Gold led off with a single and Nick Podkul followed with a single. With men on first and second, Naylor blocked a pitch in the dirt and threw Gold out at third base. Podkul later stole second and scored on a single by D.J. Neal. Hagen Danner followed with an RBI single that plated Neal and tied the game. Luis De Los Santos came up next and roped a triple into the right-centerfield gap that scored Danner to put Lansing on top.
Lake County stormed back with five runs in the bottom of the second to take control of the game. Watson walked the first two hitters, Miguel Jerez and Quentin Holmes , before a single by Daniel Schneemann loaded the bases. With one out, Tyler Freeman ripped a line drive past the diving glove of Podkul at third and Jerez scored to tie the game. Benson then lifted a sacrifice fly to right that brought home Holmes with the go-ahead run. Cardenas followed and hit a fly ball that snuck over the right field wall for a three-run homer to give the Captains a 7-3 lead.
The Captains tacked on two more runs in the fifth, thanks to two more free passes. After Cardenas singled through the right side to bring himself within a double of the cycle, reliever Josh Hiatt hit Mitch Reeves and Jose Fermin , back-to-back. Hiatt then issued a bases-loaded walk to Jerez to force home Cardenas. Holmes followed with a sacrifice fly to left that scored Reeves and pushed the Captains' lead to 9-3.
Hagen Danner hit a solo homer for Lansing in the top of the seventh, but the Captains countered with another run in the bottom of the seventh, again resulting from free passes. Schneemann singled with two outs before reliever Mike Pascoe hit Naylor and Freeman in succession. The right-hander then walked Benson to bring in Schneemann and give the Captains a 10-4 lead.
Cardenas had two opportunities to finish the cycle. He came up in the sixth inning and struck out against Pascoe. In the seventh, with the bases loaded and two outs, Cardenas ripped a line drive to centerfield, but Reggie Pruitt tracked it down. The Captains have never had a player hit for the cycle in their history.
Lansing's six hit-batsmen tired a Midwest League record. Hiatt and Pascoe each hit three batters. Watson took the loss after allowing seven runs, six earned, over two innings. The starter allowed five hits, walked three and did not strike out a batter.
Morris (4-2) earned the win. The right-hander pitched five innings and allowed three runs on seven hits. He struck out five and walked one.
The Captains stand ½ a game behind the Bowling Green Hot Rods for the Wild Card and 4.0 games behind the Great Lakes Loons with six games remaining in the first half. Lake County begins a three-game series with the Loons on Tuesday night. First pitch for game one at Classic Park is scheduled for 7:00 p.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.