EASTLAKE, OH – The Lake County Captains (8-20) got their first taste of a walk-off celebration as they came back in the bottom of the tenth inning with three runs to take game one of the series 9-8 on Friday night against the Dayton Dragons (17-10).
A RBI single by center fielder Clint Frazier capped off a late comeback in the tenth to send the 1,170 fans in attendance, home happy.
The Dragons opened up a 3-0 lead in the second inning off of Captains starter Jordan Milbrath. Phil Ervin led off the frame with a double to right field. Avain Rachal reached on an error by shortstop Paul Hendrix, moving Ervin to third. Tanner Rahier grounded into a double play to score Ervin for the first run. Dayton hit four straight singles to plate two more runs. All runs in the inning were unearned due to Hendrix’s two errors.
The Captains cut the lead to one with a two-run third inning. Second baseman Claudio Bautista laced a-two run, two-out triple to the center field gap, scoring Frazier and Ruiz.
First baseman Nellie Rodriguez opened the fourth inning with a double, and he scored on a RBI single by designated hitter Anthony Santander. Two batters later, right fielder Josh McAdams gave the Captains a 4-3 lead after hitting a RBI single to right field, but was thrown out in a rundown.
Milbrath was relieved in the sixth inning by his piggyback partner Caleb Hamrick. Milbrath allowed three runs (all unearned) on six hits in five innings. He walked one and struck out three.
Dayton made a pitching change in the seventh inning. Starter Sal Romano gave up four runs on nine hits in six innings. He walked one and struck out nine Captains batters. Joel Bender entered the game in relief. Bender surrendered one run on two hits in one inning.
Lake County opened the lead to 5-3 on a RBI single by Bautista in the seventh. Bautista had two hits and three RBI’s in the game.
Dayton regained the lead with three runs in the eighth. Julio Morillo tied the game with a two-run single. The next batter, Carlton Daal broke the 5-5 tie with a single to plate Morillo.
The Captains tied the game again in the eighth against Ryan Kemp. Lake County used two walks and a double to load the bases with one out. Kemp threw a pitch to the backstop, allowing Rodriguez to score. Dragons manager Jose Nieves took exception to the call as he argued with home plate umpire Dave Attridge. Nieves missed the end of the game as Attridge gave him an early exit with an ejection.
Lake County had the game-winning run at second with two outs in the ninth, but could not close out the game then.
Hamrick ran into more trouble in the top of the tenth inning. After retiring the first batter, Hamrick allowed three consecutive singles, including a RBI single to Morillo. Hamrick intentionally walked Daal to load the bases with one out.
Captains manager Mark Budzinski pulled Hamrick in favor of Kenny Mathews. Mathews gave up a RBI single to Jamodrick McGruder. Morillo tried to score on the play but he was thrown out at the dish. Dayton led 8-6 going to the Captains last at-bats.
Scott Brattvet entered the game to try to close out the Captains. Pinch-hitter Cody Ferrell opened with a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a groundout. Hendrix doubled home Ferrell to cut the lead to one. After a groundout, Ruiz tripled to center field to score Hendrix tying the game at eight. Frazier came to the plate with the game on the line, and walked off on an infield single.
Hamrick allowed five runs on seven hits in four and one third innings. He walked two and struck out three. Mathews got the win, after allowing one hit in two thirds of an inning.
Brattvet took the loss with three runs in two thirds of an inning.
The Captains had 15 hits in the game, a new season-high. Frazier and Ruiz paced the Captains with three hits. Three other players had two hits.
The Captains and the Dayton Dragons will continue the three-game series on Saturday. The Captains will start RHP Adam Plutko (1-0, 4.43) and Dayton will counter with the Reds flame-throwing star closer Aroldis Chapman (0-0) who will be on a rehab start for Dayton, but will give way to LHP Ismael Guillon (2-0, 1.59). First pitch is set for 1:00 PM.