Loons Blank Captains to Clinch Playoff Berth
(Eastlake, OH) - The Lake County Captains (38-27) lost to the Great Lakes Loons (41-22) on Wednesday afternoon at Classic Park, 5-0. Loons lefty John Rooney baffled the Captains over 6.2 shutout innings, propelling Great Lakes to a victory that clinched a first half playoff berth for the Los Angeles Dodgers' affiliate.
Rooney (3-1) cruised through 6.2 innings, en route to the win. The left-hander scattered four hits, including three singles. He struck out three, walked one and picked off two runners.
The Loons grabbed an early 2-0 lead with a pair of runs in the second. Niko Hulsizer led off the inning with a dribbler down the first base line that rolled into the outfield grass for a single. Two batters later, Chris Roller hit a double that hopped over the centerfield wall to put two men into scoring position. A wild pitch scored Hulsizer and moved Roller to third. James Outman then hit a grounder to second baseman Jose Fermin. With the infield in, Fermin threw home, but Roller slid in safely with Great Lakes' second run.
Great Lakes tacked on an insurance run in the fourth inning. Dillon Paulson led off with a double and Captains starter Thomas Ponticelli nearly left him stranded him there. After the right-hander struck out the next two hitters, he walked Luke Heyer to put men on the corners. Matt Cogen followed with a ground ball single to right that scored Paulson to give the Loons a 3-0 lead.
The Captains had their best shot at scoring, and even tying the game, in the sixth inning, but Rooney's masterful pickoff thwarted Lake County's rally. Fermin hit a two-out single and Tyler Freeman walked to give the Captains their first runner in scoring position of the afternoon. Will Benson came to the plate as the tying run, but Rooney and first baseman Paulson executed an inning-ending pickoff play. Paulson, who was playing behind Freeman, slipped in behind the runner as Rooney threw to first. Paulson chased Freeman to second and tagged him out to end the inning.
Niko Hulsizer added insurance for the Loons with his 14th homer of the year in the seventh. Southpaw reliever Eli Lingos walked Hunter Feduccia to begin the inning. Left fielder Benson then saved extra bases with a diving catch in left-centerfield on a line drive by Jacob Amaya. Hulsizer, however, followed with a two-run shot over the left field wall to cap the scoring in the Loons' 5-0 win.
Ponticelli (2-2) suffered the loss. The right-hander allowed three runs over 4.1 innings. He struck out three, walked three and surrendered five hits.
The Loons have clinched a playoff berth and can clinch the First Half Eastern Division title if the Bowling Green Hot Rods lose to the Fort Wayne TinCaps later on Wednesday night. The Captains are currently tied with Bowling Green for the Wild Card and will return to the Wild Card lead with a Hot Rods loss.
Lake County and Great Lakes wrap up their three-game series on Thursday night. First pitch for the rubber game is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at Classic Park.
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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