(Eastlake, OH) - The Lake County Captains (20-17, 60-46) returned home after a six-game road trip and suffered a 5-1 loss to the Lansing Lugnuts (18-19, 50-56) on Tuesday night at Classic Park. Lugnuts starter Troy Watson blanked the Captains over six innings and he combined with lefty reliever Randy Pondler to hold Lake County to one unearned run on four hits.
The Captains' offense had a few opportunities early against Watson, thanks to a pair of leadoff doubles. Cody Farhat began the second with a two-bagger, but was erased later on in the frame on an inning-ending double play. Miguel Jerez doubled to lead off the third, but was then thrown out at third by Hunter Steinmetz, as the runner tried to tag up on a fly ball to centerfield by Ike Freeman . Watson (5-2) also walked four men and did not record a strikeout, but induced soft contact and stranded three in scoring position to earn the win.
The Lugnuts' offense plated the game's first run just three pitches into the ballgame. Otto Lopez socked the first pitch of the game to left for a double and Steinmetz hit the second pitch he saw into right for an RBI single. Later in the inning, following an error by Jerez at first that put Ryan Gold aboard, Rafael Lantigua singled in Steinmetz to give Lansing a 2-0 lead.
Gabriel Moreno extended the Lugnuts' lead in the fourth. With two outs, Steinmetz hit a line drive off of Captains starter Thomas Ponticelli 's right leg. The ball ricocheted into foul ground near first base and Jerez scooped the ball up, but could not scramble to first in time to record the final out of the frame. Moreno then roped a drive over the left-centerfield wall to push Lansing's lead to 4-0.
Lake County scratched across its only run in the seventh. Jonathan Engelmann hit the Captains' third leadoff double of the game and was on third with two outs when Jerez hit a line drive to shortstop that took one hop and skipped under Lopez's glove for an error. Engelmann scored to trim the Lugnuts' lead to 4-1.
Lansing added an insurance run in the ninth. Steinmetz reached for the third time when Captains reliever Luis Valdez walked him with one out. After a walk to Moreno, Valdez uncorked a wild pitch that moved the runners up to second and third. Gold then hit a grounder that went off of Jerez's glove on the backhand side for an error. Steinmetz scored his third run of the game on the play to give Lansing a 5-1 lead.
Lefty Randy Pondler picked up the save in his Lugnuts debut. Pondler pitched three innings and allowed one unearned run on two hits with two strikeouts and no walks.
Ponticelli (3-4) took the loss. The Captains' right-hander worked five innings and surrendered four runs on eight hits with one walk and four strikeouts.
The Captains take on Lansing on Wednesday morning for game two of a four-game series. First pitch at Classic Park is scheduled for 11:00 a.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.