(Midland, MI) -Connor Smith delivered his first career four-hit game in his hometown, but the Lake County Captains (24-21, 64-50) lost the opener of a three-game series to the Great Lakes Loons (27-18, 70-42). Smith scored the Captains' only run in a 4-1 loss at Dow Diamond.
Great Lakes scored a run in four straight innings between the second and fifth innings. After Loons starter escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the first, the Great Lakes offense grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second. Romer Cuadrado singled with one out and, with two outs, Matt Cogen hit a high fly ball to right field. Clark Scolamiero drifted back, but the ball landed over his head and bounced on the warning track for an RBI triple.
The Loons tacked on another run in the third against Captains starter Matt Turner . Tre Todd singled, stole second and moved to third on a one-out single by Leonel Valera. Kody Hoese then drove in Todd with a sacrifice fly to center to push the Loons' lead to 2-0.
Great Lakes took a 3-0 lead in the fourth, though the Loons' offense did not register a hit in the inning. Cuadrado walked to begin the frame and was forced out at second on a fine defensive play by second baseman Ike Freeman . After fumbling Justin Yurchak's grounder on the backhand, Freeman recovered, barehanded the ball and made a blind, backwards flip to Jose Fermin at second. Turner then walked Cogen and an error by Smith at third put Sam McWilliams on first to load the bases. Todd then pulled a line drive to right fielder Scolamiero for a sacrifice fly that scored Yurchak.
The Captains called on Luis Valdez to reliever Turner in the fifth, but a couple of walks by the right-hander opened the door for Great Lakes. Valdez issued back-to-back one-out walks to Hoese and Luke Heyer. Two batters later, Yurchak looped a double to left-center to plate Hoese and stretch the Loons' lead to 4-0.
Lake County's only run came in the seventh, as a result of Smith's third hit of the day. The Captains' third baseman led off the seventh with a double down the left field line. Two batters later, Freeman hit a hard grounder that ricocheted off the diving glove of Heyer at third for an RBI single. In addition to the seventh-inning double, Smith singled in the second, doubled in the fourth and singled again in the ninth to collect his first career four-hit performance in a 4-for-4 effort.
Loons reliever Jose Chacin earned his league-leading 11th win. Chacin (11-6) held the Captains to one run on four hits across six innings. The right-hander struck out seven and did not walk a batter. Aaron Ochsenbein picked up his second Midwest League save by holding the Captains scoreless in the ninth. He allowed one hit and struck out two.
Turner (2-1) suffered his first loss since his promotion to Lake County. The southpaw worked four innings and allowed three runs, two earned, on four hits. Turner walked two and struck out two.
The Captains take on the Loons again on Thursday in the middle game of the three-game series. First pitch at Dow Diamond is scheduled for 7:05 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.