No-No Caps Doubleheader Sweep
(Eastlake, OH) - Eli Lingos, Luis Araujo and Kellen Rholl combined to author the fifth no-hitter in Lake County Captains (2-0, 42-29) history on Friday night at Classic Park. The dominant team pitching performance capped a doubleheader sweep of the West Michigan Whitecaps (0-2, 21-50). Lake County won the first game, 9-4, before no-hitting the Whitecaps in a 4-0 win in game two.
West Michigan jumped in front early. Two pitches into game one, Vinny Esposito took Captains starter Thomas Ponticelli deep for a solo homer into the left field bleachers. In the second, the Whitecaps expanded their lead to 2-0 when Sam McMillan scored on a wild pitch and Esposito knocked in Andre Lipcius with a double.
The Captains pulled back within one run by scoring a pair in the second. Jonathan Engelmann made his first at-bat as a Captain count with a double to left field and he scored on a single to right by Daniel Schneemann. Connor Smith followed with an RBI single that brought home Schneemann and cut the Whitecaps' lead to 3-2.
Another home run pushed West Michigan's lead to 4-2. Hector Martinez led off the fourth with a solo homer to left field to provide the Whitecaps with an insurance run. The bottom half of the inning, however, belonged to Lake County.
The Captains sent 13 men to the plate in the fourth inning and scored seven runs to take a 9-4 lead. Miguel Jerez began the rally by working a walk against lefty starter Adam Wolf. After Wolf retired the next two hitters, Smith singled to put two men on with two outs. Hosea Nelson then turned the game on its ear. Nelson cranked a three-run homer to right field that put the Captains in front for the first time, 5-4.
The inning continued with a single by Cody Farhat. West Michigan then made its first pitching change of the inning, calling on right-hander Sandel De La Cruz, but the reliever hit Quentin Holmes and walked Bo Naylor to fill the bases. Jose Fermin then dribbled an infield single toward shortstop that plated Farhat and De La Cruz hit Jerez to force in Holmes. Engelmann singled home Naylor and Fermin to finish the scoring in the monstrous fourth. After De La Cruz walked Schneemann, the Whitecaps made their second pitching change of the fourth, calling on Angel Reyes to get the last out. Smith lined out to the right field warning track, putting the inning to bed.
The Captains cruised the rest of the way. Ponticelli (3-2) picked up the win. He allowed four runs on six hits over five innings. The right-hander struck out three and walked two. Lefty Randy Valladares sealed the victory with two scoreless frames in the sixth and seventh.
Wolf (2-4) suffered the loss. The southpaw pitched 3.2 innings and gave up six runs on six hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
The Captains came within one strike of pitching the first combined no-hitter in Captains history, but fell narrowly short. Lingos was dominant in his first professional start. The southpaw struck out the side in the first inning and set down all 12 men he faced, including five strikeouts, to retire the Whitecaps in order over the first four frames.
Araujo took over for Lingos and kept the perfect game going. Araujo set down the Whitecaps in succession in the fifth, sandwiching a strikeout between a fly out and a ground out. He then sandwiched a strikeout between two pop outs to third in the sixth in another one-two-three inning.
Lingos and Araujo had combined to set down all 18 West Michigan hitters and handed the ball to lefty Kellen Rholl to complete the rare feat. Rholl struck out Lipcius swinging and then, after falling into a 3-2 count against switch-hitting Wenceel Perez, notched another swinging strikeout.
Lake County hurlers had set down all 20 men that came to the plate and the only man who stood between the Captains and a combined perfect game was Nick Quinatna. Rholl fell behind Quintana with three straight balls, but quickly pumped in a pair of strikes to run the count full. On the 3-2 pitch, Rholl's inside fastball barely missed the inner edge of the plate. The walk to Quintana ended the perfect game bid and Rholl followed the walk by hitting Ulrich Bojarski, but the southpaw closed out the no-hitter.
On a 1-0 pitch, Hector Martinez hit a soft fly ball to centerfield and Holmes closed his glove around it to seal the no-hitter. It was the first Captains' no-hitter since April 25, 2018, when Lake County no-hit the Whitecaps in game one of a twin-bill. Araujo (1-1) earned the win after his two perfect frames in the fifth and sixth.
The Captains' offense provided run support, piece-by-piece. After Whitecaps starter Robbie Welhaf retired the first eight men in order to begin the game, including six strikeouts, Cody Farhat roped an opposite-field solo homer over the right field wall. In the fourth, Josh Rolette walked, Fermin singled and Jerez dunked a bloop single down the right field line that scored Rolette. Two more runs scored in the sixth on an RBI single to right by Nelson and an RBI triple to centerfield by Smith.
Welhaf (2-2) took a tough-luck loss. The starter pitched well and struck out a career-high nine batters over 5.2 innings with just one walk. He allowed four runs on six hits.
The Captains have started the second half with two straight wins and play game three of their four-game series with West Michigan on Saturday. First pitch at Classic Park 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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