Royalty Commands Whitecaps
(Eastlake, OH) - Alex Royalty dominated the West Michigan Whitecaps (0-3, 21-51) on Saturday night. The right-hander struck out a career-high 10 batters over 6.2 shutout innings to propel the Lake County Captains (3-0, 43-29) to a 5-2 win at Classic Park.
Royalty (3-4) became the first Captains pitcher to struck out 10 batters since Jean Carlos Mejia fanned 10 Great Lakes Loons on July 30 of last year. Royalty struck out a pair in the first, struck out the side in the second, fanned another in the third, two more in the fourth, one in the fifth and one more to begin the seventh. He scattered four hits and did not issue a walk, en route to the win.
The Captains gave Royalty run support beginning in the fourth. Whitecaps starter Gio Arriera had held Lake County hitless until Bo Naylor led off the fourth with a single Arriera then hit Jose Fermin with a pitch and Josh Rolette bunted his way aboard to load the bases. Naylor came home to score when Jonathan Engelmann bounced into a 6-4-3 double play. A wild pitch then plated Fermin to give the Captains a 2-0 lead.
Lake County expanded its lead to 5-0 in the fifth. Daniel Schneemann worked a one-out walk and Quentin Holmes kept the rally going with a two-out dunk single to right-center. On a 3-2 pitch, Schneemann and Holmes took off from second and first respectively, as Naylor grounded a sharp single into centerfield. Schneemann scored easily from second and Holmes bolted around third, trying to score from first. The relay throw from shallow center hopped to catcher Sam McMillan and Holmes slid in safely to give the Captains a 4-0 lead. Fermin then roped a double to left-centerfield that sent Naylor home to push the lead to 5-0.
West Michigan made the Captains sweat by scoring a couple of runs in the eighth off of reliever Skylar Arias. The lefty walked Andre Lipcius to lead off the inning, but right fielder Cody Farhat promptly took Lipcius off the bases. Zach Malis lined a one-out single to right and Farhat fired to third to retire Lipcius, trying to run from first to third. Arias, however walked Nick Quintana and Ulrich Bojarski lifted a fly ball down the left field line that banged off the wall and caromed back into the West Michigan bullpen. Both Malis and Quintana scored, as Bojarski hustled to third with a two-run triple, cutting the Captains' lead to 5-2.
The Whitecaps threatened in the ninth and even brought the tying run to the plate, but Manuel Alvarez ultimately side-stepped danger and nailed down his seventh save. Alvarez walked Rey Rivera to begin the inning. The Whitecaps sent Parker Meadows in to pinch run for Rivera and Alvarez walked McMillan to bring Clark Brinkman up as the tying run with nobody out. Alvarez, however, got Brinkman to pop out to Engelmann in foul ground at first, struck out Lipcius and induced a weak pop out to right by Vinny Esposito to end the game.
Arriera (2-5) suffered the loss for West Michigan. The right-hander worked 4.2 innings and was responsible for all five Captains runs on five hits. He struck out six, walked one and hit one batter.
The Captains have now started the second half with three straight wins, just as they began the 2019 season with a three-game winning streak. Lake County will try to sweep West Michigan in the finale of the four-game series on Sunday afternoon. First pitch at Classic Park is slated for 1:30 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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