(Fort Wayne, IN) - The Lake County Captains (2-0) have begun the 2018 season as possibly the most patient team in the Midwest League. After working eight walks on Opening Night, the Captains again drew eight walks on Saturday in Fort Wayne, en route to a win over the Fort Wayne TinCaps (0-2). In the opener of a six-day road trip, the Captains combined their eight walks with eight hits to capture a 9-3 win at Parkview Field.
The Captains bunched most of their scoring between the second and fourth innings, scoring eight of their nine runs during those frames. In the second, the Captains loaded the bases on a pair of walks and a throwing error by pitcher Mason Thompson. Jorma Rodriguez then hit an infield single that scored Jose Medina and a bases-loaded walk to Austen Wade two batters later plated Jose Vicente to give the Captains a 2-0 lead.
Fort Wayne got a run back in the second. Lake County starter Kirk McCarty walked Gabriel Arias to start the frame and Luis Campusano knocked him in with a double, trimming the Captains' lead to 2-1. The Captains later escaped the inning with the lead, however, thanks to a timely double play. With runners on the corners and one out, Jack Suwinski hit a grounder to Medina at first. The first baseman stepped on the bag and fired a strike to Ernie Clement at second base. Clement slapped the tag on Reinaldo Ilarraza to complete the twin killing and end the frame.
Lake County grabbed three runs in the third, this time without a walk. Todd Isaacs led off by striking out, but reached first when the ball got away from Campusano behind the dish. After a Medina single, Vicente hit a dribbler in front of home and Campusano tried to throw out Isaacs at third base. The catcher's throw, however, was late and that loaded the bases for Tyler Friis who hit an RBI ground out to first base that scored Isaacs.
The Captains led, 3-1, after Friis' groundout and Fort Wayne went to the bullpen, bringing in right-hander Adrian Martinez with runners on second and third. After Martinez struck out the first man he faced, a slow roller and a wild play netted the Captains two more runs. Clement grounded a ball softly toward shortstop and Arias charged in hard. The shortstop fired a throw to first on the run, but his throw sailed wide of first baseman Carlos Belen. Medina scored from third and as Belen went to retrieve the ball, Vicente tore around third base. Belen uncorked a throw to the plate, but his heave skipped past Campusano. Medina and Vicente scored to give the Captains a 5-1 lead and Clement raced to third amid the madness.
Lake County tacked on three more runs in the fourth, but they also lost their right fielder. Mike Rivera began the fourth with a walk and Will Benson followed with a double to the gap in right-centerfield. Benson came up lame at second, prompting Manager Luke Carlin and Athletic Trainer Jake Legan to take a look at the right fielder. Benson stayed in the game long enough to see a wild pitch score Rivera, but as Benson trotted to third on the wild pitch, he still appeared to be in discomfort. Benson exited the game and Oscar Gonzalez took his place running at third base and subsequently on defense in right field.
With a 6-1 lead, the Captains kept rolling in the fourth. Following the wild pitch that scored Rivera, Medina slammed a double to left field that brought home Gonzalez. Friis later knocked in Medina with a single to put the Captains ahead, 8-1.
Lake County might have added to that lead if not for a stellar defensive effort by Arias. With two outs and Friis on second, Rodriguez hit a soft grounder toward shortstop. Third baseman Reinaldo Ilarraza cut off Arias, but could not field the ball cleanly. With nobody at third base, Friis took a wide turn around the bag, but Arias scooped up the ball and raced at the runner. As Friis hurried back toward third, Arias dove at Friis and tagged him out to end the inning.
Fort Wayne scored twice more against McCarty, but the Captains' lefty held the lead. In the fourth, Tirso Ornelas worked a leadoff walk and Arias drove him in with a double. The following inning Suwinski led off with a double and scored on a single by Tre Carter. McCarty, who did not factor in the decision, pitched 4.1 innings and allowed three runs on four hits. He struck out seven and walked three.
The Captains added one final run in the seventh inning without the benefit of a hit. Friis began the frame by walking against Fort Wayne reliever Joe Galindo. Two batters later, after Friis stole second and tagged up on a fly ball to reach third, Clement grounded a ball toward third base. Ilarraza let the ball roll under his glove and Friis scored to give the Captains a 9-3 advantage.
Captains lefty reliever Kyle Nelson picked up the win with 1.2 strong innings out of the bullpen. Nelson (1-0) gave up two hits, but no runs. He struck out three and did not issue a walk.
Gregori Vasquez finished the game for Lake County and earned his first save since 2015. The right-hander tossed three scoreless and hitless innings, allowing just one baserunner to reach on a walk. Vasquez struck out four.
Thompson (0-1) took the loss for the TinCaps. The 6'7" right-hander lasted 2.1 innings and was charged with five runs on two hits. Thompson struck out five, but walked four and hit a batter.
The Captains improve to 2-0 and will see plenty of the TinCaps again on Sunday. The two teams will begin Sunday by finishing Friday night's game, which was suspended due to snow in the fourth inning with the TinCaps leading, 6-2. The Captains will remain the home team for the suspended game, as that contest began at Classic Park. The game will resume at 2:05 p.m. at Parkview Field on Sunday afternoon. Fort Wayne and Lake County will then play a seven-inning game after the conclusion of the suspended contest.
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.