EASTLAKE, OH- The Lake County Captains (2-0) scored the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning as they clinched a spot in the Midwest League Championship Series on Sunday night. An error by the first baseman led to the winning run. The Captains defeated the Fort Wayne Tincaps (0-2) 5-4. The Captains will face Kane County starting on Wednesday.
“I am excited for these guys. They came together and impresses down the stretch. Nellie has been out MVP all year, he has been a team leader this season,” said Mark Budzinski on the team.
The Tincaps broke the scoreless tie in the fourth inning. Designated hitter Fernando Perez lined a one-out double down the left field line. Two batters later, third baseman Dustin Peterson put a RBI single between first and second base to score Perez.
Right-hander Ronald Herrera held the Captains without a hit through the first three innings. Centerfielder Clint Frazier broke the no-hitter up with a single to left field. Right fielder Bradley Zimmer followed suit with a single, moving Frazier to third. First baseman Nellie Rodriguez launched a three-run homerun deep over the left field bleachers.
Herrera pitched into the fifth inning before leaving the game. He walked the designated hitter Brian Ruiz with one out. Michael Collins brought in Colby Blueberg. Shortstop Ivan Castillo beat out a potential double play at first base. Castillo stole second and moved to third when the throw went into center field. Blueberg struck out the final batter.
Herrera went four and one third innings with three runs allowed. He gave up three hits and one walk.
Captains’ starter Dace Kime shut down the Tincaps across five and one third innings. He scattered four hits and gave up one run. He walked one and fanned six batters. Justin Brantley entered and finished the sixth inning.
“Kime had command all night with all of his pitches. He gave us five plus innings in a pressure situation,” Budzinski said of Kime.
The Captains added an insurance run in the sixth inning. Zimmer singled to open the inning. Two wild pitches by Blueberg moved Zimmer to third base. Blueberg walked a batter and left the game when Jason Jester came in. Left fielder Dorssys Paulino plated Zimmer with a sacrifice fly to center field.
Blueberg allowed one run on one hit in one inning of work.
Brantley walked two batters in the seventh inning before Brantley left the game. Right-hander Carlos Melo entered and got the final out of the frame.
Brantley tossed one and one third inning of relief work.
Lake County got two singles in the seventh against Jester. Eric Yardley entered and walked a batter to load the bases. He got the next batter to ground out to extinguish the threat.
Three runs in the eighth inning tied the game for Fort Wayne. Melo walked two batters before catcher John Nester doubled home a runner. On a groundball back to the mound, Melo airmailed a throw to the first baseman. The error brought home two runs and the game was tied at four.
In the eighth, Rodriguez opened the inning with a single to left field. A groundout to second base moved Rodriguez to second base. Yardley walked catcher Richard Stock to face third baseman Grant Fink. Fink hit a groundball to short, the shortstop made the throw to first and the first baseman missed the catch. Rodriguez scored from second base to score the run.
Melo picked up the win, with one earned run allowed in one and one third innings.
Yardley took the loss with one run given up.
Trevor Frank entered and shut down the Tincaps in the ninth inning. The Captains defeated the Tincaps and they advance to the championship round.
The Captains had seven hits in the win. Zimmer and Rodriguez had two hit games. Rodriguez added three RBI to his record. He has six for the postseason.