EASTLAKE, Ohio- The Lake County Captains (1-0) pounded out 14 hits in the series opener and got a stellar start from Mitch Brown to take a 1-0 lead in the Midwest League Eastern Division Semifinals over the South Bend Silver Hawks (0-1), 6-2. The series shifts to South Bend on Thursday night.
“Mitch set the tone for the game and threw the ball really well,” Captains manager Mark Budzinski said. “Clint hit the ball well, including three good at-bats. We got contributions from all-around. It was good to get the first game at home and take the lead on the road.”
The Captains gained the first lead of the night in the third inning. Catcher Sicnarf Loopstok led off with a walk. Second baseman Claudio Bautista sacrificed Loopstok to second base. Centerfielder Clint Frazier then lined his first home run of the playoffs to left field for a 2-0 Captains lead after three innings.
South Bend cut the lead in half against Captains’ starter Mitch Brown. Right fielder Justin Williams doubled down the left field line. A passed ball by Loopstok put Williams at third base with one out. A groundout to first was enough to plate the run.
The Captains bounced back and scored arun to give themselves a two-run lead in the fifth. Shortstop Ivan Castillo laid a bunt single down the first base line to reach and Frazier then doubled Castillo to third base. South Bend intentionally walked first baseman Nellie Rodriguez to load the bases. With the bases loaded, Silver Hawks’ starter Anthony Banda was in the process of throwing a pitch when the pitching coach walked onto the field. Banda stopped his motion, resulting in a balk being called and Castillo scored from third. Frazier was then thrown out in a rundown between third and home plate.
South Bend manager Mark Haley spoke of the incident after the game.
“I thought I had time called, Doug [the pitching coach] started to walk out and Banda stopped his pitch when he saw him coming. I guess the umpire didn’t hear me call time.”
Brown pitched into the sixth inning before reaching his pitch limit. He won the game, going five and two third innings. He scattered three hits, one run allowed, two walks and had six strikeouts. Robbie Aviles retired the last batter in the sixth.
“Tonight was an adrenaline rush,” Brown said after the game. “I pretty much had all my pitches working well. I pitched to contact and my changeup was my out pitch.”
Banda took the loss, allowing three runs in five innings. He gave up seven hits, three walks and five strikeouts. Bud Jeter worked around two hits to keep the game 3-1.
South Bend scratched a run across in the seventh. Third baseman Joe Munoz doubled to left field to start the rally. A groundout scooted Munoz to third base with one out. Second baseman Jamie Westbrook plated Munoz with a infield single to second base.
A three-run seventh inning blew the game open for the Captains. Castillo singled and Frazier followed with his second double of the game. Jeter was relieved by the pitcher with two first names, Jose Jose.
Jose gave up a two-run triple to right fielder Bradley Zimmer, scoring both runners. Rodriguez singled up the middle to plate Zimmer and complete the scoring.
Jeter was charged with two runs allowed in one plus inning. Jose gave up one run in one inning of work. Adam Miller pitched a scoreless eighth inning with one hit allowed.
Aviles surrendered one run on two hits in two and one third innings of work. He fanned one to bridge the gap to Trevor Frank, who threw a perfect ninth inning to lock down the game one victory.
Frazier had three hits, including two doubles anda homer in the game.
“The home run pitch was a changeup, which I put down the left field line,” Frazier said. “That homer meant a lot to me since I have not hit a lot to left field for power. On the doubles, they were fastballs that I wanted to put into play.”
Eight of the nine players in the lineup had at least one hit. Four players had two-hit games to help the cause.
The Captains will send left-handed pitcher Anderson Polanco to the mound to face right-handed pitcher Blake Perry for South Bend in Game 2. The first pitch on Thursday is at 7:35 at Four Winds Field.