The reigning Midwest League champions gave the home crowd at Classic Park something else to cheer about in the Captains' home opener Monday night.
Three Lake County pitchers -- Trey Haley, Francisco Jimenez and Clayton Ehlert -- combined on the first no-hitter of the Minor League season in the Captains' 3-1 victory over the Dayton Dragons.
Former Indians second-rounder Haley started the game strong for Lake County, retiring the first six batters in order, but struggled in the third inning. The 20-year-old right-hander issuing a leadoff walk to Juan Duran and uncorked a wild pitch before fanning Jaren Matthews. After Duran stole third, Haley walked Tucker Barnhart to put runners on the corners.
Haley got Billy Hamilton to whiff for the second out, but he hit the backstop for the second time in the frame with Devin Lohman in the batter's box. That allowed Duran to score the Dragons' lone run. Haley got Lohman to fly out to right field, ending his night after reaching his pitch limit of 55.
Jimenez (1-0) took over in the fourth and struggled initially, walking leadoff batter Yorman Rodriguez. The 20-year-old native of the Dominican Republic induced a groundout that moved Rodriguez to second before catcher Alex Monsalve's passed ball put Rodriguez on third. Jimenez got David Vidal to fly to center fielder Carlos Moncrief, who nailed Rodriguez at home plate to end the frame.
"Carlos Moncrief made a tremendous throw home and Alex Monsalve blocked the plate well," Lake County pitching coach Jeff Harris said.
Jimenez settled down after that, retiring the side in order over the next three innings and striking out two before departing after the seventh. Harris praised the effort of the 5-foot-11 left-hander.
"He was just solid," he said. "He has a great feel for pitching, he knows what he wants to do out there. He threw everything where he wanted to and had a plan out there."
"We were looking more realistically at three innings, but four was a plus. He was cruising, his pitch count was low. He probably could have thrown another one or two more innings, he didn't want to come out. He did everything he needed to do. He gave us the length we needed in the middle of the game."
Ehlert was perfect over the game's final two innings for his second save of the season.
The early run really altered the perception of the staff, Harris said.
"I wasn't even thinking about a no-hitter, I was just focused on winning the game," he explained. "It was a little weird getting that run early in a tie game and that's probably why it didn't occur to me until later in the game."
The Captains received offensive contributions from 2010 12th-rounder Tyler Cannon, who hit his first homer of the season, while Monsalve reached base twice and drove in a run.