Updated: Sep 20
Eastlake, OH- The Lake County Captains (65-48) had a two game lead over West Michigan in the playoff race. They played the Cedar Rapids Kernels (68-47) looking to pick up another win and keep their playoff aspirations alive. RHP Jack Leftwich (3-0, 2.48 ERA) was on the mound for the Captains. The Kernels countered with RHP Sean Mooney (3-1, 3.20 ERA) getting the start.
Jack Leftwich started off the game a little rocky as the first batter he faced, Kernels LF Mikey Perez singled up the middle. Leftwich tried to pick off Perez and Captains 1B Aaron Bracho couldn't handle the throw and bounced into the seats. Next up SS Brooks Lee singled driving in a run. Leftwich walked DH Seth Gray. 1B Jake Rucker doubled to left center driving in another more run. The next batter 3B Wander Javier drove a ball deep to left center and just over the wall for a 3 run homer and giving the Kernels a 5-0 lead. Leftwich settled in after the first five batters and was able to end the inning with 2 strike outs, but the damage was done and the Captains would need to play catch up the rest of the game.
After a stellar first inning taking down the Captains one, two, three, with 2 strike outs, Kernels starting pitcher Sean Mooney was replaced for an unknown reason in the top of the 2nd inning by RHP Orlando Rodriguez (3-1, 3.20 ERA). Rodriguez breezed though the Captains in the bottom of two.
Jack Leftwich was relieved in the top of the 4th inning with 2 outs. He went 3.2 innings, giving up 5 runs on 7 hits, all earned, no walks, and struck out 9. Leftwich had a very rough first inning, but settled in nicely after that. RHP Alaska Abney (7-2, 3.05 ERA) took the reigns to get the last out of the inning.
In the bottom of the 4th inning the Captains looked to try and get a rally going as DH Joe Naranjo doubled of the top of the center field wall. RF Alexfri Planez singled to center and the throw to home plate was a weak one as Planez tried to stretch it out into a double, but hesitated for a moment and was thrown out by the catcher at second base. CF Petey Halpin flew out to shallow center, keeping Naranjo at third. A balk by Kernels P Orlando Rodriguez allowed Naranjo to take home and the Captains were finally on the board 5-1 as the bottom of four ended.
After 1.1 innings Alaska Abney was pulled in favor of LHP Raymond Burgos (6-3, 2.18). Abney only faced four batters striking out three.
Captains DH Joe Naranjo singled with one out in the bottom of the 6th inning. Naranjo advanced to second on a wild pitch. CF Petey Halpin hit a moon shot to left field and just over the wall for a 2 run home run. It was his 6th homer of the season, and it cut into Cedar Rapids lead 5-3.
The Captains struck again in the bottom of the 7th inning as 1B Aaron Bracho walked to start the inning. C Micael Ramirez doubled to right center to put runners on 2nd and 3rd. Bracho scored on a wild pitch which also advanced Ramirez to third base. 2B Christian Cairo singled over the third baseman's head scoring Ramirez and tying the game at 5-5. SS Milan Tolentno hit a bunt single. DH Joe Naranjo flew out to center. On a questionable call, or maybe just miscommunication Cairo and Tolentino tried to advance bases on the fly out and Tolentino was easily thrown out and second base. The Captains however still evened up the score heading into the top of the 8th.
The Kernels finally answered back in the top of the 8th. Cedar Rapids RF Willie Joe Garry Jr. was hit by a pitch. He then stole second base easily without a throw from Captains C Micael Ramirez. Kernels C Charles Mack blasted a 2 run shot deep to right. A deflating blow to the Captains comeback. Cedar Rapids led 7-5 heading into the bottom of the 8th.
To add insult to injury, the first batter in the top of the 9th inning for Cedar Rapids, LF Mikey Perez hit a solo home run to left center. His 2nd home run of the season extending the Kernels lead to 8-5.
The Captains were down to their last three outs in the bottom of the 9th and would not go down without a fight. 1B Aaron Bracho and C Micael Ramirez both singled to start the bottom of the 9th. LF Korey Holland with out fear bombed a 3-run homer into the night and tied the game up at 8-8. Three outs after that we were headed into extra innings.
In the top of the 10th Kernels 3B Wander Javier was driven in on a single by RF Willie Joe Garry Jr. giving Cedar Rapids the lead 9-8. That was the lone run of the half inning.
The Captains answered right back as CF Petey Halpin drove in RF Alexfri Planez to again tie the game at 9-9 in the bottom of the 10th.
Zach Hart shut down Cedar Rapids in the top of the 11th setting up some Lake County heroics once again. C Mike Amditis started on second base. LF Korey Holland grounded out holding Amditis at second. 2B Christian Cairo came through in a big way with a bloop liner down the right field line scoring Amditis for the walk off win, propelling the Captains their 4th win in a row and improving their record to 66-48 on the season.
The Captains will once again battle Cedar Rapids on Thursday at Classic Park with a start time of 6:35 P.M.
Luis Rijo (0-2, 8.03 ERA) will start for the Kernels, while Tommy Mace (0-5, 4.85 ERA) gets the start for the Captains
After the game I talked with Coach Dicenzo and Petey Halpin about how this team has no quit and how you can never count them out.
Coach Dicenzo said "They lean on each other when the going gets tough and you've seen that over the last few weeks and we've been able to scrap our way back"
Petey Halpin said "Everyone's coming together. It's the end of the year and we've been around each other for a long time and everyone trusts everyone else".
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