(Eastlake, OH) - Jean Carlos Mejia was his typical, dominant self on Monday night, but the Lake County Captains (24-32, 53-73) could not turn his seven-inning gem into a sweep-clinching victory. Mejia held the West Michigan Whitecaps (27-29, 63-63) to one run over seven frames, but took the loss in a 3-1 defeat in the finale of a three-game series at Classic Park.
Mejia gave up just two hits through the first three frames and both were tough-luck knocks. In the second, Jordan Pearce hit an ordinarily routine grounder that kicked off the first base bag for a double and Chris Proctor turned a perfectly-placed ground ball down the right field line into a triple. Mejia struck out five men over those three scoreless innings.
In the fourth, the Whitecaps capitalized on an infield hit to score their only run against the Captains' starter. Brady Policelli led off the frame and hit a rocket to shortstop and the ball deflected off of Miguel Eladio 's glove for a hit. Policelli advanced to second on a wild pitch and later scored when Pearce punched a two-out single through the shortstop hole.
Mejia (4-7) continued to baffle the Whitecaps. Though he took the loss, the right-hander pitched seven innings for the fourth time in his last six starts. Mejia allowed just one run on five hits, struck out nine and did not walk a batter. He even escaped a tough jam in the sixth when Wenceel Perez hit a leadoff triple. Mejia struck out Policelli and got Dylan Rosa to bounce a ball to third and Elvis Perez threw the runner out at home before Bortles grounded into a force out at shortstop to end the inning. Mejia now has a 1.77 ERA across his last six starts.
The Captains did not have an answer for Whitecaps starter Elvin Rodriguez. The right-hander, who ultimately earned the win, pitched five innings of scoreless baseball and would have continued if he did not have to exit the game in the sixth when a hard-hit Gabriel Mejia grounder struck him in the foot. Still, Rodriguez (7-7) pitched five shutout frames and held Lake County to three hits with one walk and six strikeouts.
West Michigan tacked on two insurance runs in the ninth against Dakody Clemmer . The right-hander had pitched a scoreless eighth, but began the ninth with a four-pitch walk to Rosa. Bortles then dropped down a perfect bunt in the grass toward third for a single and Pearce singled again through the shortstop hole to load the bases with nobody out. Clemmer struck out Luke Sherley, but Anthony Pereira followed with an RBI single to left. Later in the inning, Reece Hampton walked with the bases loaded to push West Michigan's lead to 3-0.
The Captains mounted a comeback in the ninth, but came up short. Joshua Rolette singled with one out against reliever Johan Belisario. A wild pitch moved Rolette to second base and Richard Palacios hit a ground ball to the left side of the shifted infield that snuck past the outstretched glove of third baseman Bortles. Rolette scored to cut the Captains' deficit to 3-1 and bring the tying run to the plate. Belisario, however, nailed down the win for West Michigan and picked up his third save when he got Jesse Berardi to ground out to first for the final out of the game.
The Captains took two out of three from West Michigan and will begin a three-game series on Tuesday against the South Bend Cubs. First pitch at Classic Park is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
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.