Captains Escape, Edge Dragons in 10
(Dayton, OH) - The Lake County Captains (27-18) gave up a narrow lead late, but prevailed in 10 innings against the Dayton Dragons (15-31) on Wednesday night at Fifth Third Field. Thanks to a go-ahead sacrifice fly by Jose Fermin and some tight-rope walking by the bullpen, the Captains defeated Dayton, 3-2.
Lake County produced only modest offense on Wednesday, but all of it came from Fermin. The Captains' shortstop did it all himself in the first inning to give Lake County a 1-0 lead. Fermin singled, stole second base and came home to score when Dragons starter Lyon Richardson fired a pickoff throw into centerfield. Fermin scored all the way from second with the game's first run.
Fermin helped the Captains push their lead to 2-0 in the third. With one out, he hit a grounder to deep shortstop and legged it out for an infield single. Ruben Cardenas then reached on an error by third baseman Dylan Harris and Will Benson grounded a single into right that scored Fermin.
Dayton pulled within a run in the fourth inning. Jay Schuyler keyed a two-out rally with a walk against Captains starter Alex Royalty and moved to second on a wild pitch. Juan Martinez then cracked a double off the base of the left-centerfield wall to score Schuyler and cut the Captains' lead to 2-1.
The Dragons tied the ballgame in the bottom of the eighth. Captains reliever Manuel Alvarez walked Michael Siani to lead off the inning and then tried to pick the runner of at first. The throw, however, skipped wildly into the Captains bullpen. Siani raced to third and beat the throw from Cardenas. Brian Rey then hit a sacrifice fly to center to bring home Siani with the tying run.
Alvarez had to walk on eggshells in the bottom of the ninth to keep the Dragons from winning the game on a walk-off, but the right-hander somehow escaped serious trouble. Martinez led off with a single to center and Harris dropped down a bunt toward first. Alvarez scooped up the roller and tossed to first, but Harris reached safely as Miguel Jerez dropped the baseball. Morgan Lofstrom bunted the men up to second and third, putting the winning run 90 feet from home with one out. Alvarez intentionally walked Miguel Hernandez to load the bases and then stifled the Dragons hitters. Alvarez struck out Reniel Ozuna swinging on a 3-2 pitch and then fanned Siani to leave the bases full and send the game to the 10th inning.
In the top of the 10th, the Captains started with Connor Smith on second base as the free runner, per Minor League Baseball rules. Bo Naylor pinch hit for Gianpaul Gonzalez and worked a walk. Hosea Nelson then put down a sacrifice bunt that moved the runners up to second and third. That's when Fermin struck again. He lifted a fly ball to medium-deep right field, deep enough to score Smith from third with the go-ahead run. With that Fermin had accounted for all three Captains runs, scoring two and driving in one to give his team a 3-2 lead in extra innings.
In the bottom of the 10th, it was Riley Echols' turn to wade through a Dayton rally. Siani began the inning on second as the free runner and Echols, who had come in to relieve Alvarez, walked Rey. Mariel Bautista advanced the runners to second and third with a bunt and Echols walked Schuyler intentionally to load the bases. For the second inning in a row, the Dragons had the bags full with one out, this time with the tying run on third and the winning run on second. Echols, however, struck out pinch hitter Carlos Rivero swinging and got Harris to pop out to left to end the ballgame.
Alvarez (3-1) was charged with a blown save, but picked up the win in relief. The right-hander worked two innings and allowed one unearned run on two hits. He struck out four and walked two. Echols pitched a scoreless 10th with no hits, two walks (one intentional) and one strikeout to notch his second save.
Dragons reliever Connor Bennett gave up the go-ahead run in the 10th and took the loss. Bennett (0-4) pitched two innings and was charged with one unearned run on one hit. He walked one and struck out two.
The Captains wrap up their five-game series in Dayton on Thursday night. First pitch at Fifth Third Field is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
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). Mini ticket plans for the 2019 season are still available for great prices complete with several exclusive benefits. Information can be found at the Captains website www.captainsbaseball.com.
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