May 17, 2017 - Midwest League (MWL) - Lake County Captains
(Midland, MI) - Brady Aiken took a big sigh of relief on Tuesday night. The left-hander earned his first victory with the Lake County Captains (14-23), holding the Great Lakes Loons to just two runs over five innings. Todd Isaacs delivered a mammoth home run and Conner Capel ripped a two-run triple to help supplement Aiken and lead Lake County to a 4-2 win at Dow Diamond.
Aiken had to work around a pair of jams to keep the Captains ahead and put himself in line for the victory. The first sign of trouble came in the fourth when the Loons loaded the bases with nobody out. After Cody Thomas hit a leadoff double, Aiken walked Oneil Cruz and hit Keibert Ruiz. Aiken, however, settled down and got Mitchell Hansen to roll into a 4-6-3 double play. Thomas scored on the twin-killing, but Aiken induced a ground out against the next batter to end the frame and keep the Captains ahead, 3-1.
The following inning, the Loons put another runner in scoring position to start the frame. Saige Jenco hit a leadoff triple and Gavin Lux knocked him home with a sacrifice fly. Lux's sacrifice cut the Captains' lead to one run, but it at least cleared the bases. Aiken, however, proceeded to walk Brendon Davis and then issued a two-out walk to Thomas. The lefty was still able to escape the frame with the lead intact. Aiken got Cruz to bounce out to second base to end the inning with the Captains still ahead, 3-2.
The Lake County bullpen was lights out down the stretch. Henry Martinez, Ryder Ryan and Dalbert Siri combined to pitch four shutout innings with eight strikeouts, one hit and one walk. Martinez struck out the side in the sixth and Ryan did the same in the eighth. Siri worked around a double in the ninth and struck out the other three batters he faced to seal the win and his third save of the season.
Isaacs ignited the Lake County offense in the third inning. He led off the frame with a booming blast to left field for his fifth long ball of the season. The solo home run exited Dow Diamond and traveled an estimated 390 feet to give the Captains a 1-0 lead.
The Captains put together a rally in the fourth against Loons starter Devin Smeltzer. Li-Jen Chu worked a one-out walk and Luke Wakamatsu singled with two outs. Capel followed Wakamatsu and drove a line drive into the right-centerfield gap. Chu and Wakamatsu both scored easily and Capel raced into third with a two-run triple to push the Lake County lead to 3-0.
Alexis Pantoja added an insurance tally for the Captains in the 7th. The Captains were only leading by 3-2 at that point, but Jorma Rodriguez beat out a near double play ball and then stole second and Trenton Brooks followed with a single to put runners on the corners with two outs. The Loons made a call to the bullpen, bringing in right-hander Vinny Santarsiero to replace Smeltzer, but Pantoja lined a single off of Santarsiero to score Rodriguez and extend Lake County's advantage to 4-2.
Aiken (1-6) earned his first win with Lake County and his first victory since August 22, 2016. The southpaw allowed two runs over five innings. Aiken gave up six hits, walked three, hit one batter and struck out two.
Smeltzer (2-2) suffered the loss for the Loons. The Great Lakes lefty lasted 6.2 innings and gave up all four Captains runs on seven hits. He walked a pair and struck out four.
The Captains' victory ended a five-game losing streak and was also the first win for Lake County at Dow Diamond this year. The Loons had bested the Captains in all four prior games in Midland, MI.
With the win on Tuesday, the Captains and Loons have split the first two games of this three-game set and will square off bright and early on Wednesday morning in the rubber game. First pitch at Dow Diamond is scheduled for 10:35 AM.
Individual game tickets for all Captains games are on sale at the Classic Park box office, online at captainsbaseball.com and by phone at 440-954-WINS (9467). Full season tickets plans, 12-, 20-, and 35-game mini ticket plans for the 2017 season are on sale now at great prices complete with several exclusive benefits. Information can be found at the Captains website www.captainsbaseball.com.