Cardenas Muscles Captains to 3-2 Win
(Dayton, OH) - The Lake County Captains (25-17) began their longest road trip of the season with the narrowest of wins on Monday night. In the opener of a 12-game, 11-day road trip, Lake County edged the Dayton Dragons (14-29) at Fifth Third Field, 3-2. Ruben Cardenas powered the Captains with his bat and his arm.
The game was scoreless heading into the top of the third when Cardenas made his offensive contribution to Monday's ballgame. The Captains' outfielder had homered in three consecutive games when he came to the plate with one out and Tyler Freeman on third. On a 1-2 pitch from Dragons starter Jhon De Jesus, Cardenas cracked a line drive the other way and sent it over the right field wall for a two-run homer. Cardenas extended his streak to four straight games with a home run and gave the Captains a 2-0 lead.
Dayton quickly came back to tie the game in the bottom of the third when a two-out error opened the door. Reniel Ozuna led off with a single, moved to second on a ground out and advanced to third on a wild pitch. With two outs and Ozuna 90 feet from home, Mariel Bautista hit a hard grounder that went through Jesse Berardi's legs at third. Ozuna scored and Bautista made it up to second. Pabel Manzanero then hit a flare to right field that dunked in for a single. Bautista scored to tie the game at 2-2.
The Captains' pitching staff held serve over the next few innings. Starter Cody Morris worked four frames and only allowed those two unearned runs from the third. Aaron Pinto followed with three scoreless innings in relief. On the flip side, the Captains continued to threaten, but came up empty. They left a man on third in the fourth, stranded the bases loaded in the sixth and, after a leadoff double by Freeman in the seventh, left men on the corners. Finally, in the eighth, Lake County came up with a clutch hit to take the lead.
Miguel Jerez led off the inning against reliever Alexis Diaz and hit a grounder to third that clipped Juan Martinez's left foot and caromed into foul territory for a leadoff single. Quentin Holmes came up next and popped a bunt foul. Diaz ran after the ball beyond the first base line and injured himself in pursuit. After Matt Pidich came in from the Dragons' bullpen, Holmes dropped down the sacrifice to move Jerez into scoring position and the Captains called on Hosea Nelson to pinch run. Berardi then atoned for his error with a tough at-bat and a big hit. After fouling off five straight pitches, Berardi roped a line drive into right field and Nelson slid in ahead of the throw from Ozuna in right to give the Captains a 3-2 advantage.
Dayton came within inches of tying the game in the bottom of the ninth, but the Captains' defense held on tight. Manzanero led off with a single off of reliever Riley Echols and the Dragons pinch ran with Zeek White. With Shard Munroe at the plate and nobody out, a ball in the dirt slid narrowly behind catcher Bo Naylor and White started toward second, but stopped. Naylor fired back to first and second baseman Connor Smith, who had run over to cover first base with first baseman Mitch Reeves playing in to guard against the bunt, slapped the tag on White for the first out. The inning continued, however. Munroe walked and moved to second after Echols struck out Miguel Hernandez for the second out. That brought Brian Rey to the plate with two outs and the tying run on second. Enter Cardenas, again.
Rey pulled a grounder between shortstop and third base. Munroe tore around third and Cardenas fired home. Naylor fielded the throw on one long hop and placed the tag on the sliding runner to end the ballgame, sealing a Lake County victory.
Pinto (4-1) earned the win in relief. The right-hander pitched three scoreless frames and allowed just one hit. He struck out three and did not issue a walk.
Echols picked up his first save of the year after holding Dayton without a run in the eighth and ninth. He struck out the side in the eighth and finished with four strikeouts, one walk and one hit allowed.
Diaz (4-2) took the loss for Dayton. He allowed one run on two hits over one inning of work. He walked one and struck out one.
The Captains and Dragons square off again in a long day of baseball on Tuesday. The teams will resume a game that was suspended due to rain on April 14 and will then play another game afterward. The suspended game will pick up in the second inning with the game still scoreless. Lake County will have two men on with one out and Berardi at the plate. That game will be played to its nine-inning completion. Game two will be seven innings. The suspended game will resume at 6:00 p.m. at Fifth Third Field.
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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