(Eastlake, OH) - The Lake County Captains (25-41, 52-83) nearly clawed their way back from an early deficit on Thursday night against the Lansing Lugnuts (26-40, 63-69), but could never find the key hit. After Lansing scored the first five runs of the game, the Captains came from behind and had five at-bats with the tying run at the plate down the stretch. In the end, however, the Lugnuts held on to beat Lake County at Classic Park, 7-4.
Mitch Nay put Lansing ahead in the top of the first inning. Lake County starter Luis Jimenez allowed the Lugnuts to load the bases on singles by Joshua Palacios and Nash Knight and a walk to David Jacob. Nay then bounced a single into right field that plated both Palacios and Knight to give the Lugnuts a 2-0 lead.
Three Lansing solo homers extended the Lugnuts' lead to 5-0. Jacob led off the third inning by hitting a towering long ball that just stayed fair over the right field foul pole. In the sixth, Yeltsin Gudino and Javier Hernandez began the frame by hitting back-to-back solo shots.
Jimenez was lifted from the game immediately following the blasts by Gudino and Hernandez, but Ryan Colegate entered from the bullpen and delivered a strong relief performance. The right-hander retired the next three batters to end the inning and bring the Captains to the plate in the bottom of the sixth.
Luke Wakamatsu started Lake County's sixth-inning rally with a single and Alexis Pantoja followed with a single of his own against Lansing starter Yennsy Diaz. Li-Jen Chu came up next and, with one swing, pulled the Captains within two runs. Chu lifted a three-run homer over the left field wall, cutting Lansing's lead to 5-3.
Later in the inning, Logan Ice worked a walk and the Captains had the tying run at the plate. Right-hander Yonardo Herdenez came in from the bullpen, however, and retired Michael Tinsley on strikes to end the threat. The Captains had two more at-bats in the seventh with the tying run at the plate, but Wakamatsu and Pantoja both popped out to the catcher.
Colegate continued to deal for Lake County. The right-hander struck out two batters in a one-two-three seventh inning and then pitched another perfect frame in the eighth. Colegate set down the first nine men he faced with four strikeouts, but trouble was lurking in the ninth.
With the Lugnuts still ahead by two in the ninth, Nick Sinay bunted his way on base with one out. Palacios followed with a double to put runners on second and third. The Captains had to pull the infield in, but Colegate struck out Knight for the second out. The Captains were one out away from escaping the inning unscathed, but Jacob came up next and laced a two-run single that scored Sinay and Palacios, staking Lansing to a 7-3 lead.
The Captains again rallied in the bottom of the ninth and brought the tying run to the plate against lefty reliever Miguel Burgos. Ice worked a leadoff walk, but was retired at second on a fielder's choice off the bat of Tinsley. Burgos then hit Trenton Brooks with a pitch and walked Jorma Rodriguez . The bases were loaded with one out and the Captains trailed by four runs with Wakamatsu coming to the plate. The switch-hitting shortstop inched Lake County closer by hitting a sacrifice fly to left that brought home Tinsley from third, but Burgos then struck out Pantoja to end the game.
Diaz (5-2) picked up the win for the Lugnuts, who won their fourth straight game. The right-hander worked 5.2 innings and gave up three runs on eight hits. He struck out six and walked one.
Jimenez (2-8) took the loss for Lake County. He pitched five innings and allowed five runs on eight hits. Jimenez struck out three and walked two.
The Captains play their final home game of the 2017 season on Friday night against Lansing. First pitch at Classic Park is scheduled for 7:00 PM.
Information about Classic Park or the Captains can be found online at www.captainsbaseball.com and by phone at 440-954-WINS (9467). The Captains front office can be reached at 440-975-8085.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.