Espino Fans 10 Again, Captains Fall Short
(Eastlake, OH) - Daniel Espino struck out 10 batters for the fifth time in nine High-A starts, but the Lake County Captains (60-53) could not muster enough offense to support the right-hander. The Captains fell to the Dayton Dragons (59-54) on Saturday night at Classic Park, 4-1.
Espino was perfect over the first four innings with seven strikeouts. Dayton ended the perfect game and broke the scoreless tie in the fifth, however. Allan Cerda lifted a home run to the first row of the bleachers in left field to give the Dragons their first hit of the night and a 1-0 lead.
Lake County answered right back in the bottom of the fifth. Mike Amditis worked a one-out walk against Dayton starter Carson Spiers. Two batters later, Julian Escobedo worked the count full with two outs. Amditis took off for second on the pitch and Escobedo socked a line drive into the left-center field gap. Amditis scored from first to tie the game at 1-1.
The Captains had a shot to take the lead in the bottom of the sixth, but a stellar defensive play by Dayton reliever Francis Peguero kept the game tied. José Tena led off with a double off the wall in right-center. After Peguero hit Johnathan Rodríguez with a pitch and struck out Joe Naranjo, Micah Pries came up and hit a bouncer to first. Jack Rogers fielded the ball and flipped to Peguero covering first base, but Peguero did not get his foot to the bag in time. As Pries legged out the infield hit, Tena tore around third and tried to score. Peguero then snapped a throw home to get Tena and end the inning.
Dayton took the lead in the top of the eighth. Cerda chopped a leadoff infield single and Juan Martinez followed with a double hooked down the left field line. The Captains brought the infield in with nobody out and reliever Kevin Kelly struck out Rogers for the first out. Eric Yang, however, followed with a sacrifice fly down the left field line that plated Cerda to give Dayton a 2-1 lead. Kelly then punched out Reyny Reyes to end the inning and keep the Captains' deficit at one run.
After the Captains squandered another leadoff double in the bottom of the eighth, the Dragons added two back-breaking insurance runs in the top of the ninth. Michael Siani led off with a double. Two batters later, Ivan Johnson lifted a two-run shot to left to give the Dragons a 4-1 lead.
Dragons reliever Stevie Branche shut the door in the ninth. Branche (1) earned the save with a scoreless and hitless ninth. He walked one and struck out one, freezing Escobedo to end the game.
Peguero (1-1) picked up the win. The right-hander pitched two scoreless innings. He struck out one, walked none and allowed two hits.
Kelly (4-5) took the loss. He allowed three runs over two innings with four hits, three strikeouts and no walks.
Mason Hickman is scheduled to take the mound on Sunday for Lake County. First pitch between the Captains and Dragons is set for 6:35 p.m. at Classic Park.
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