(Bowling Green, KY) - The Lake County Captains (1-2, 29-43) put an end to the Bowling Green Hot Rods' (2-1, 49-27) franchise-record 13-game winning streak on Saturday night, but it did not come easy. Despite an eight-run third inning by the Lake County offense and a stellar start by Juan Hillman , Bowling Green came back to bring the tying run to the plate in the ninth. The Captains escaped with a 10-7 win at Bowling Green Ballpark.
Nolan Jones ignited the Captains' third-inning outburst. After Hot Rods starter Alex Valverde walked Tyler Friis , Jones blasted a two-run homer to left field to open the scoring. Valverde followed with a walk to Oscar Gonzalez , Jose Vicente then singled and Will Benson walked to load the bases. Two batters later, Jose Medina singled home Gonzalez to give the Captains a 3-0 lead and knock Valverde out of the ballgame.
Mikey York emerged from the Bowling Green bullpen, but the rally continued, as Ulysses Cantu walked with the bases loaded to score Vicente. Jesse Berardi then grounded a single through the right side and right fielder Eleardo Cabrera let the ball roll under his glove. Benson, Medina and Cantu all scored to give Lake County a 7-0 lead. Berardi raced to third on the play and was credited with a single and one RBI. Friis followed with a sacrifice fly to deep left-center that brought home Berardi with the eighth run of the inning. The explosion was Lake County's biggest offensive inning of the season.
Meanwhile, Hillman held Bowling Green hitless until the fifth. The southpaw struck out four and allowed just two baserunners on a walk and an error over the first four frames. In the fifth, Hillman walked Devin Davis, but Trey Hair bounced a grounder to Cantu at first and the Captains forced out Davis at second base on a fielder's choice. Emilio Gustave then hit a grounder to Berardi at second and the Captains narrowly missed turning an inning-ending double play. They settled for the force out at second, putting a runner on first with two outs. Alexander Alvarez then scorched a triple off the left field wall that scored Gustave, ending Hillman's no-hitter and shutout. The Captains still led, 8-1.
Lake County got that run back in the top of the sixth. Friis hit a fly ball to center that Gustave lost track of. The ball fell behind the centerfielder and Friis landed on third with a triple. Two batters later, Gonzalez chopped a grounder to third and Hair could not pick the short hop, allowing Friis to score from third and give the Captains a 9-1 lead.
Hillman needed help to escape the sixth inning unscathed. After Taylor Walls hit a one-out single, Zach Rutherford hit a grounder to third that glanced off of Jones' glove into left for an error. With runners on first and second, Moises Gomez hit a grounder to third and Jones fired to second, but Rutherford beat the throw to load the bases. Nick Gallagher came in from the bullpen and slammed the door. He struck out Davis swinging and got Hair to bounce to second and end the inning with the Captains' eight-run lead intact.
The Hot Rods stormed back in the seventh. With Gallagher on the hill again, Gustave led off the inning with a single and Cabrera cracked a long, two-run homer over the videoboard in right-centerfield two batters later. Vidal Brujan came up next and hit a grounder to shortstop, but Friis threw low and the ball skipped by Cantu, allowing Brujan to reach second. Walls followed with an RBI double and scored on a single by Rutherford. The four-run inning trimmed Lake County's lead to 9-5.
The Captains added an insurance run in the ninth. Gonzalez began the frame with a single against Tyler Zombro and advanced to second on a wild pitch. With two outs, Jonathan Laureano roped an RBI single to right-center to expand the Captains' lead to 10-5.
Bowling Green made things interesting in the ninth. Gallagher walked Brujan to start the inning and Walls followed with a line drive into the gap in right-center. Gonzalez went to cut the ball off, but it glanced off his glove and skipped to the warning track. Brujan scored easily from first and Walls coasted to third. Walls was credited with an RBI double and Gonzalez was charged with an error to move Walls to third. Gallagher then balked home Walls to cut the Captains' lead to 10-7.
After Gallagher walked Rutherford, Riley Echols came in from the bullpen with the tying run in the on deck circle. Echols came up big, inducing a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of Gomez. With the bases clear and two outs, however, the Hot Rods mounted another threat. Davis doubled and Hair singled, putting runners on the corners and bringing Gustave to the plate with the tying run. Gustave cracked a hard liner to shortstop, but Friis climbed the ladder and made a leaping grab to end the ballgame and seal the Captains' win. Echols was credited with a save, as the Captains' ended their own five-game losing streak and stopped Bowling Greens' club-record winning streak. The right-hander recorded all three outs in the ninth. He allowed two hits and did not walk or strike out a batter.
Hillman (1-8) picked up his first win of the year with a stellar outing. The lefty pitched 5.1 innings and allowed just one run on two hits. He struck out four and walked two.
Valverde (4-3) took the loss. He gave up six runs over 2.1 innings on five hits. Valverde walked four and struck out a pair.
The Captains will have a chance to split their four-game series with Bowling Green on Sunday afternoon. First pitch for the series finale is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. ET at Bowling Green Ballpark.
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.