Benson Blasts into History with Four-Homer Game
(Eastlake, OH) - Will Benson led the Lake County Captains (9-5) in home runs last year, but he never had a performance like he did on Thursday against the South Bend Cubs (7-7). Benson clobbered four home runs in his first four at-bats, becoming the first player in Captains history and the fifth in the history of the Midwest League to accomplish the feat. Benson's long balls lifted Lake County to a 12-6 win in game one of their three-game series at Classic Park.
The Lake County right fielder did not know he was on the cusp of an historic night when he cracked his first homer in the game's opening frame against Cubs starter Eury Ramos. After Ramos hit Tyler Freeman with a pitch, Benson hit a line drive that climbed over the right field wall and slammed against the stilted signs beyond the fence to give the Captains a 2-0 lead.
Two innings later, Benson struck again. On the very first pitch of the third, Benson connected on another Ramos delivery. This one also sailed over the right field wall on its way to the stilted signs beyond the berm and extended the Captains' lead to 5-1. The homer gave Benson his sixth career multi-home run game, but he was far from finished.
Benson came to the plate in the fourth with the bases loaded in the fourth inning. Facing right-hander Zach Mort, Benson left the first two pitches out of the zone and then took a called strike to run the count to 2-1. The slugger then proceeded to battle Mort, fouling off six consecutive pitches. Finally, on the 10th pitch of the at-bat, Benson drilled a deep fly ball to centerfield. Cole Roederer raced back and watched the ball sail over the wall for a grand slam and Benson's first career three-homer game. The long ball gave the Captains an 11-1 lead.
With three homers in three at-bats, Benson led off for the Captains in the bottom of the sixth against right-hander Jeffrey Passantino. On a 3-2 pitch, Benson drilled a no-doubt home run to right-centerfield to complete one of the most extraordinary and rare feats in professional baseball. Benson's last homer made it 12-1.
Benson even had a shot at adding a fifth home run when he came to the plate against Dalton Geekie with one out in the eighth. Benson battled to a full count and struck out swinging on a high fastball on the eighth pitch of the at-bat. He finished his day four-for-five with four home runs and eight RBI. The eight RBI tied a Captains record.
Benson's four-homer performance was the first in Minor League Baseball since Mike Ford blasted four home runs in one game for the Charleston RiverDogs (Class-A, Yankees) in 2014. Benson became the fourth player in Midwest League history to hit four homers in a regular season game, joining Garret Jones (2002), Mike Bishop (1978) and Bobby Smith (1959). Eric Battersby (1999) also hit four homers in a Midwest League playoff game.
The Captains also received offense from Hosea Nelson and Jesse Berardi. Nelson drilled his first homer of the year, a two-run homer in the second against Ramos. Berardi knocked in a pair of runs when he singled off of Mort in the third.
South Bend scored just one run against Captains starter Shane McCarthy. It came in the third when Delvin Zinn doubled, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Eric Gonzalez and scored on a ground ball to first by D.J. Artis that turned into a missed-catch error by McCarthy when the pitcher covered first and dropped Mitch Reeves' throw.
The Cubs scored their other five runs against reliever Eli Lingos. Levi Jordan knocked in Chris Morel with a double in the seventh and Artis doubled home two later in the inning. In the eighth, Morel hit a two-run homer to make it 12-6, Captains.
McCarthy (2-1) earned the win after allowing just one run over six innings of work on four Cubs hits. He struck out four and walked one.
Ramos (0-2) suffered the loss. He lasted 2.2 innings and allowed seven runs on seven hits with five strikeouts, one walk and one hit-batsman.
The Captains won game one of their three-game series with the Cubs and will take on South Bend again on Friday night. First pitch at Classic Park is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
Information about Classic Park or the Captains can be found online at www.captainsbaseball.com and by phone at 440-954-WINS (9467). Affordable ticket packages and group party and picnic options are available now.
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