COMSTOCK PARK, MI- Two ninth inning home runs helped lead the charge as the Lake County Captains (6-12) scored five runs in the last two innings to defeat the West Michigan Whitecaps (7-9) by a final score of 8-5.
Lake County scored first with three runs in the top of the third inning off Whitecaps’ starter Endrys Briceno. Second baseman Robel Garcia and centerfielder LeVon Washington coaxed back-to-back one-out walks. Shortstop Dorssys Paulino then plated Garcia with a RBI single.
Right fielder Luigi Rodriguez followed with a single but Washington was thrown out at the dish by Whitecaps left fielder Danry Vasquez. However, the Captains were still able to score a couple more runs as first baseman Nelson Rodriguez then lined a two-out, two-run double to left field for his sixth and seventh RBI’s of the year.
Captains’ starter Ryan Merritt got off to a nice start before he was roughed up for four runs in the fifth inning. Jake Stewart opened the frame with a single to the pitcher. Bennett Pickar followed with a double to left field and Austin Schotts then drew a walk to load the bases with one out.
David Gonzalez scored Stewart while moving all runners up one base. Vasquez struck with a two-run single to center field, tying the game at three. A double steal moved both runners into scoring position with only one out.Devon Travis scored Gonzalez with a sacrifice fly to right field, giving the Whitecaps a 4-3 lead after five innings.
West Michigan made the first move to the bullpen, bringing in reliever Logan Ehlers to replace Briceno for the sixth inning.
Briceno threw five innings for a no decision, giving up three runs on four hits. He walked three and struck out three batters.
After Merritt struck out the first two batters, right-handed reliever Michael Peoples (1-0, 0.00 ERA) came in with two outs in the sixth inning. Merritt earned a no-decision, surrendering four runs on seven hits in 5.2 innings of work. He gave one walk and struck out five.
The Captains hit two homeruns in the ninth inning to put the game away. L. Rodriguez launched his first homerun of the year, a two-run dinger to right field. Following a strikeout, designated hitter Eric Haase hit his first homerun to left field.
Reliever Louis Head came on for the ninth inning, and gave up a leadoff triple to Stewart. Pickar drove home Stewart with a RBI groundout.
Peoples picked up the win, pitching 2 1/3 innings of two hit ball with two strikeouts. Peoples has not allowed an earned run in 11 1/3 innings and has a scoreless streak of 8 1/3 innings.
Head gave up one run on one hit in one inning of work.
Nesbitt took the loss, allowing five runs on six hits in two and one third innings of work. Ehlers and Julio Felixcombined for one and two third scoreless innings for West Michigan.
Hitters 2-6 in the lineup were a combined 10-25 with six runs batted in. Washington walked twice in his return to the lineup due to a hamstring issue. This was Washington’s first game since Opening Day (April 4th).
The Captains and Whitecaps will play the rubber game on Wednesday afternoon. Lake County will send RHP Joe Colon (0-0, 3.59) to the hill to square off against RHP Edgar De La Rosa (1-0, 5.87) for West Michigan. First pitch is scheduled for 12:00 PM form Fifth Third Ballpark.