Captains fall 9-7 despite four home runs
Power binge not enough to get Lake County the win
EASTLAKE – The Lake County Captains accumulated four home runs at Classic Park on Thursday night but fell to the Cedar Rapids Kernels 9-7.
Right-hander Luis DeJesus (3-9, 6.18) received the start for the Captains to counter Cedar Rapids’ righty Josue Montanez (3-2, 5.35).
DeJesus has battled problems with issuing the long ball all season and Thursday was no different as he surrendered a solo shot to center fielder Jonathan Murphy in the third inning.
First baseman Joe Sever responded immediately in the Captains’ half of the inning as he launched his own home run to score center fielder Logan Vick, who reached base on an error to give Lake County the 2-1 lead.
The Kernels loaded the bases in the fourth as a pair of infield hits left DeJesus unraveled. Right fielder Adam Walker and first baseman Max Kepler started the inning with a pair of back-to-back infield singles before designated hitter Tyler Grimes drew a one-out walk. Catcher Jairo Rodriguez followed with a sacrifice fly to plate Walker and left fielder Jeremias Pineda singled to center to score Kepler. Murphy followed with a single to score two more and the rattled DeJesus issued a walk to shortstop Niko Goodrum. With two out, second baseman Jorge Polanco singled to score Murphy, giving the Kernels the 6-2 lead.
The Captains added one more in the fifth as Vick drew a two-out walk and stole second before scoring on a single by first baseman Joe Sever. The long balls continued in the sixth inning as the Captains hit a pair of solo shots to bring themselves within one. Catcher Jeremy Lucas hit the first with a drive to left-center and three batters later, second baseman Yhoxian Medina hit the first home run of his professional career to the exact same spot.
Meanwhile, reliever Jimmy Stokes entered the game for the Captains in the sixth, sealing DeJesus’s line at five innings pitched, surrendering six runs on seven hits, five walks and a pair of strikeouts.
Cedar Rapids jumped on Stokes in the seventh as Kepler and third baseman Travis Harrison each drew a two-out walk. Cue Grimes, who singled to center to plate Kepler, giving Cedar Rapids the 7-5 lead.
The Captains managed one more in their share of the seventh as Vick doubled and scored on a groundout by Sever, but the Kernels popped out two more runs in the eighth. Pineda was plunked by a pitch to start the sequence and stole base before Murphy drew a walk. Goodrum singled to load the bases and one run scored on a sacrifice fly. A fielding error on a hard hit ball to shortstop Dorssys Paulino permitted Murphy to score, ending the evening for Stokes as he was relieved by Felix Sterling.
Right fielder Anthony Santander sent a shot deep to right to lead off the eighth inning for his fifth of the year in the eighth inning to bring the Captains within two. They loaded the bases with two out in the ninth inning, but Santander struck out to end the game, giving the Kernels the 9-7 victory.
Captains manager Scooter Tucker noted that the team offense has produced, just not at the right times. “We have swung the bat pretty well for the most part,” Tucker said. “Sometimes the timeliness of our hits hasn’t been the best. It’s just part of the process of them being in that situation.”
Tucker also said that the team simply needs a boost of confidence, which will come from experience. “You’ve got to come through a time or two and then you build your confidence,” he said. “We need a couple of these walk-offs and then all of a sudden these guys start believing they can do that too.”
Next, the Captains and Kernels complete their three game series on Friday evening. Jake Sisco (4-6, 3.75) will take the bump for Lake County against Cedar Rapids lefty Brett Lee (6-4, 3.54).
Stephanie is a crime and general assignment reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio. She’s an alumna of Cleveland State University with a degree in Journalism and Promotional Communication. You can follow her on Twitter @7thInningSteph.