(Fort Wayne, IN) - The Lake County Captains (26-38, 55-79) had their opportunities on Wednesday night, but left too many of them on the table in a loss that mathematically eliminated them from playoff contention for the fourth straight season. The Captains left 19 runners on base and stranded eight in scoring position in a 3-1 loss to the Fort Wayne TinCaps (31-33, 63-70) to open up a three-game series at Parkview Field.
Lake County had its first chance to put a run on the board in the second. Jesse Berardi and Mitch Reeves hit back-to-back one-out singles against lefty Tom Cosgrove. The TinCaps' starter, however, escaped the jam with a pair of fly balls. Elvis Perez 's fly ball to right moved Berardi to third and Miguel Eladio skied to left to end the inning.
Fort Wayne took the lead the following half inning. In the bottom of the second, Michael Cantu came up with two outs and nobody on against Gregori Vasquez . The right-handed hitter lifted a fly ball to right that sailed over the wall for a solo homer to give the TinCaps a 1-0 lead.
The Captains missed another chance to score in the third, leaving runners on the corners, but Lake County knotted the score in the fourth. Berardi led off the frame with his second single and then stole second. Reeves came up next and hit a grounder to shortstop. Gabriel Arias slid to his right and made a fine backhand stop, but spiked the throw to first. The ball skipped under first baseman Jalen Washington's glove and hopped into the TinCaps' dugout for a two-base error that plated Berardi with the tying run and moved Reeves to second with nobody out. Cosgrove, however, kept the game tied. He struck out Perez, got Eladio to line out to center and induced a pop up to second off the bat of Tre Gantt to end the inning.
Cosgrove went on a roll after the game-tying error. The left-hander retired nine straight batters to finish his outing. After the TinCaps' starter finished off his second straight perfect inning in the top of the sixth, his offense came through in the bottom of the frame. Vasquez needed just 48 pitches to get through the first five frames, but Fort Wayne battled him tooth and nail in the sixth. Aldemar Burgos led off with a double to left-center. After Vasquez got Jack Suwinski to fly out to right and struck out Jeisson Rosario, Owen Miller fought through a seven-pitch at-bat before grounding a single into center that scored Burgos with the go-ahead run. Arias followed by slicing a double off the wall in the right field corner. Miller scored to give Fort Wayne a 3-1 lead. Vasquez needed 32 pitches to get through the sixth inning alone.
Lake County had a pair of chances to tie the score in the last two innings. Facing Reiss Knehr in the eighth, the Captains put runners on second and third with one out. Knehr hit Jonathan Laureano with a pitch and Jose Vicente smacked a double into the right-centerfield gap. Dane Hutcheon pinch ran for Vicente and the Captains were potentially a base hit away from tying the score. Knehr the struck out Berardi looking and Reeves swinging to end the inning.
The Captains again knocked on the door in the ninth. With Evan Miller on the mound, Eladio reached on an infield single when Arias charged his slow grounder and bobbled the ball trying to make a hurried throw. Miller then struck out Gantt, but Todd Isaacs hit his second single and stole second to put runners on second and third with two outs. The Captains were again a base hit away from possibly tying the game. Miller, however, struck out Will Benson to end the ballgame. The right-hander tallied strikeouts for all three out his outs in the ninth and earned his sixth save.
Cosgrove (3-6) picked up the victory. The southpaw tossed six strong innings, allowing just one run on seven hits, all of which were singles. He struck out four and walked none.
Vasquez (6-7) took the loss. The right-hander worked six innings and gave up three runs on seven hits. He struck out three and did not issue a walk.
Lake County was mathematically eliminated from playoff contention with five games remaining. The Captains and TinCaps play the second game of a three-game series on Thursday night. First pitch at Parkview Field is scheduled for 7:05 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.