(Dayton, OH) - Eli Morgan was pretty close to untouchable on Tuesday night. The Lake County Captains' (4-2) right-hander struck out five of the first six Dayton Dragons (3-3) he faced, en route to a nine-strikeout performance. The Captains, however, fell to Dayton for the second night in a row, 4-1.
Morgan was on fire from the outset. The Captains' starter got Jeter Downs to ground out for the first out of the first before striking out Miles Gordon and Montrell Marshall swinging. The next inning, Morgan was at it again. He struck out Stuart Fairchild swinging and then got John Sansone and Mark Kolozsvary looking to run his strikeout total to five through two innings.
Morgan continued to dominate in the third. After allowing a leadoff hit to Jose Garcia, he struck out Morgan Lofstrom and Downs looking. Two innings later, Morgan tied and then eclipsed his single-game career high when he struck out Lofstrom again for his eighth punch-out and Downs again for strikeout number nine.
Lake County gave Morgan early run support. Facing Dayton left-hander Packy Naughton, the Captains strung together a pair of doubles in the second inning to score the game's first run. Ulysses Cantu roped a one-out double to left field and Todd Isaacs followed with a hot-shot grounder down the left field line. Isaacs cruised in to second as Cantu scored to give the Captains a 1-0 lead.
The Captains held the lead until the fourth when the Dragons got to Morgan for the first time. After tallying just one hit the first time through the order, Dayton put together three straight hits to tie the score. Marshall started the rally with a bloop ground rule double down the right field line and Stuart Fairchild knocked him in with a single to even the score at 1-1. Sansone would single right after, but he and Fairchild were left stranded thanks to a sliding stop and laser throw to first by Dillon Persinger to rob Garcia of a hit and end the inning.
The ballgame remained tied until the eighth when Dayton broke through. Tommy DeJuneas was in his second inning of relief and fresh off of striking out four straight Dayton hitters when Downs reached on an infield single. Gordon came up next and cranked a 1-1 pitch over the right field wall to give the Dragons their first lead, 3-1.
Dayton scored one more run in the eighth thanks to a pair of errors and a strange play. With two outs and the bases empty, Fairchild reached on an error by shortstop Ernie Clement . With Sansone hitting, Fairchild took off for second and Sansone slapped a single to right-center. Fairchild could have stopped at third, but he got the wave home, catching the Captains off guard. Centerfielder Austen Wade tossed the ball in to second base, but with Fairchild sprinting home, Clement suddenly had to whip a throw home. Clement's throw was on the money, but dropped by catcher Mike Rivera. Fairchild scored on the missed-catch error to give Dayton a 4-1 lead.
Lake County went quietly in the ninth inning against right-hander Connor Ryan. After a leadoff single by Wade, Ryan got Cantu to bounce into a 5-4-3 double play. Ryan then struck out Isaacs to end the game and nail down his first save of the year.
Reliever Ryan Nutof picked up the win for Dayton. Nutof (1-0) pitched 1.2 innings of shutout and hitless baseball. He struck out three and did not walk a batter.
DeJuneas (0-1) took the loss for Lake County. He worked two innings and surrendered three runs, two of which were earned, on four hits. DeJuneas, however, struck out nine Dragons and did not issue a walk.
Morgan and Naughton, the two starters, both pitched exceptionally. Morgan worked six innings, striking out six and walking none. He gave up one run on five hits. The right-hander has now struck out 17 men over his first 12 innings this season without walking a batter.
Naughton pitched 6.1 innings for the Dragons and allowed one run on seven hits. He struck out seven and did not issue a walk.
The Captains and Dragons square off again on Wednesday in the third game of this four-game series. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at Fifth Third Field.
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.