LANSING, MI – The Lake County Captains (34-28, 61-71) scored three times in the top of the tenth inning to take a 9-6 lead and then hung on for a 9-7 win over the Lansing Lugnuts (27-36, 58-73) on Monday night. The Captains hold a five and a half game lead on the race for the two wild-card spots and they have a magic number of two. They can clinch the playoff spot with a win and Dayton loss on Tuesday.
In the second inning, both teams exchanged the lead. Lake County scored two runs in the top half of the frame to take the lead. Right fielder Mike Papi reached on a fielding error by the Lansing first baseman. A single by left fielder Dorssys Paulino and a groundout put runners at second and third with one out. Designated hitter Brian Ruiz plated Papi with a RBI single to right field. Following a strikeout, shortstop Ivan Castillo singled home Paulino for a 2-0 lead. A walk loaded the bases but the Captains could not score again.
Two homeruns launched by Lansing put the Lugnuts on top 3-2 in the bottom of the second. Centerfielder D.J. Davis hit his eighth homer of the year to right field. Designated hitter David Harris doubled and scored on a two-run shot by catcher Chris Schaeffer.
Lugnuts starter Matt Dermody made his first start for Lansing since June 19th. He pitched three plus innings with two unearned runs allowed. He gave up five hits, walked one and struck out four. Joseph Lovecchio came in and worked out of a two on, no outs jam.
First baseman Rowdy Tellez took Captains starter Dace Kime deep for his first homerun of the season. The Lugnuts used three homeruns to hold a 4-2 after four innings.
The Captains pulled to within a run in the fifth inning. Centerfielder Clint Frazier led off with a walk and advanced to third on a double by third baseman Paul Hendrix. First baseman Nellie Rodriguez drove in his team-high 79thRBI with a single.
In the sixth inning, Lake County tied the game at four. Two singles and a flyball put runners at the corners with two outs. The Lugnuts made a pitching change to Jimmy Cordero. Cordero uncorked a wild pitch, scoring the runner from third and tying the game.
Lovecchio was charged with two runs allowed on four hits in two and two thirds innings. He walked two and fanned two.
Kime pitched into the sixth inning before leaving with a runner on second. Justin Brantley entered and retired the last two batters. Kime gave up four runs on six hits in five and one third innings. He struck out three but allowed three round-trippers to Lansing hitters.
Castillo singled in the eighth inning to end Cordero’s night in relief. Roberto Espinosa came in and walked Frazier, the first batter he faced. Hendrix singled home Castillo and Frazier moved to third on a fielding error. Espinosa threw a wild pitch, scoring Frazier to make the score 6-4 in favor of the Captains.
Brantley threw one and two third innings of shutout ball with four punchouts before he handed the ball over to southpaw Wander Beras.
Right fielder Derrick Loveless walked, stole second and moved to third base on a single. Shortstop Dawel Lugo cut the lead to one with a RBI knock to center field. Trevor Frank came in and struck out the last batter in the eighth, keeping the score 6-5. Beras threw two thirds of an inning with one run given up.
Frank could not close out the game as the Lugnuts forced extra-innings with a score in the ninth. Pinch-hitter Ian Parmley walked to open the inning. He stole second base on a strikeout and crossed the plate on a single by left fielder Chaz Frank.
The first two batters of the tenth inning singled before Rodriguez lined his 30th double down the left field line. Both runners scored as the Captains reclaimed an 8-6 lead. Rodriguez took third on a fly ball and scored on a wild pitch. Catcher Richard Stock singled and Espinosa was done. Lansing manager John Tamargo Jr. brought in his third baseman Jason Leblebijian to pitch. Lebleijian tossed a wild pitch but he got the final out to avoid any further damage.
Espinosa fell to 2-2 on the year as he surrendered four runs (three earned)on five hits and two walks in two and one third innings.
Frank gave up one run on one hit in one and one third innings but got the win, improving to 5-4.
Carlos Melo loaded the bases in the tenth with two walks and a single. After a pop out, Melo hit a batter with the bags full. A run scored to make the deficit two runs at 9-7. Melo got the final out to record his fourth save.
The Captains had 16 hits in the game. Castillo and Hendrix had three hit games. Rodriguez, Paulino and Stock added two hits each. Rodriguez has 81 runs batted in on the season, good enough for fourth in the league.
Lake County will look for a series win and pull closer to a playoff spot on Tuesday night. Lefty Luis Lugo (8-9, 5.38) will start for the Captains against RHP Jeremy Gabryszwski (6-5, 4.31) for Lansing. The first pitch is set for 7:05 PM.