(Midland, MI) - The Lake County Captains (3-1) had a shot at starting the season with four straight wins for the second straight season, but fell short on Sunday against the Great Lakes Loons (1-3) at Dow Diamond. The Loons held the Captains scoreless to beat Lake County, 6-0.
Great Lakes struck lightning fast in the opening frame. Drew Avans attacked the first pitch from Captains starter Shane McCarthy and laced a single to right. Jacob Amaya followed and pulled a double down the left field line to score Avans and give the Loons the lead two batters into the ballgame. Two batters later, Niko Hulsizer singled up the middle to plate Amaya and push Great Lakes' advantage to 2-0.
The next inning began inauspiciously for the Captains. Romer Cuadrado rolled a grounder to first that went under Josh Rolette 's glove and McCarthy walked the next two batters to load the bases. McCarthy battled and minimized the damage. He got a double play ball off the bat of Tre Todd. Cuadrado scored on the twin-killing to give the Loons a 3-0 edge, but McCarthy ended the inning by getting Avans to pop up to center.
McCarthy settled into a groove over the next three innings. The right-hander faced the minimum from the third through the fifth and allowed just one runner on a walk before erasing him on a pickoff. He notched all five of his strikeouts in those three frames and did not allow a hit after the first inning. McCarthy (0-1) eventually took the loss despite a strong final line of five innings, three runs, two earned, three hits, two walks and five strikeouts.
Loons starter Guillermo Zuniga worked efficiently over the first two innings, but ran into trouble in the third and gave the Captains their best opportunity to score. Quentin Holmes began the inning with a single and Zuniga balked him to second. After Tyler Freeman popped out to short, Holmes stole third and Will Benson walked to put men on the corners with one out. Benson then promptly stole second to place two Captains in scoring position. Zuniga got Ruben Cardenas to fly out to shallow left field, too shallow to score Holmes, but then walked Bo Naylor to load the bases.
All of that took Zuniga 30 pitches and Loons Manager John Shoemaker decided to end his afternoon there. Jose Chacin came in from the bullpen to face Rolette. On Chacin's very first pitch, Rolette hit a sharp grounder right at first baseman Dillon Paulson to end the inning and keep the Loons ahead, 3-0.
Chacin (1-0) cruised the rest of the way and ate up 5.1 innings in relief without allowing a run. The right-hander scattered just two hits and struck out five, ultimately earning the victory. The Loons' offense added three insurance runs in the sixth off of Eli Lingos on an RBI double by Vargas and a two-run single by Cuadrado. Joel Inoa closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.
The Captains won three out of four in the season-opening home-and-home series against Great Lakes and will return home to start a four-game series with the Bowling Green Hot Rods on Monday. First pitch for all four games in the series is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Classic Park.
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.