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Merritt shuts down Dragons, leads Captains to 7-3 win

Captains ride walks and wild pitches to victory

Merritt shuts down Dragons, leads Captains to 7-3 win
Ryan Merritt (Photo: Lianna Holub)
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EASTLAKE – The Lake County Captains won their second-straight game on Wednesday night as they took advantage of a handful of wild pitches and some timely hits to tame the Dayton Dragons for a 7-3 win.

It was a southpaw showdown as lefty Ryan Merritt (0-2, 2.00) received the nod to start for the Captains against Dayton lefty Ismael Guillon (0-1, 4.91). Guillon is currently on the Cincinnati Reds’ 40-man roster and is ranked the 9th best Reds prospect by Baseball America.

The Captains scored first as they capitalized on some control issues from Guillon in the first. Center fielder Luigi Rodriguez led off the inning with a double into left-center before a series of walks commenced for Guillon. Shortstop Erik Gonzalez drew a walk and designated hitter Eric Haase flew out before Guillon walked three straight batters. The walks weren’t cheap either as he threw four wild pitches within that span, allowing a pair of runs to score.

The Dragons responded in the top of the second as first baseman Jeff Gelalich led off with an infield single to first base as Captains’ first baseman Nellie Rodriguez couldn’t reach the bag in time. Gelalich advanced to second on a groundout and swiped third, allowing him to score on a groundout by catcher Joe Hudson.

Lake County picked up another pair in the fourth as right fielder Jorge Martinez drew a walk and stole second. Rodriguez also picked up a walk, which ended the day for Guillon, preserving his line at 3.1 innings, allowing four runs on one hit, nine walks and five strikeouts. With two out, Haase lined a single to center to score Martinez and another wild pitch from reliever Joel Bender allowed Gonzalez to score, giving the Captains the 4-1 advantage.

Reliever Jack Wagoner entered the game to replace Merritt in the seventh, sealing Merritt’s line at six innings, relinquishing one run on five hits and four strikeouts.

Dayton pulled within one in the eighth inning off of reliever Nick Pasquale, who replaced Wagoner. Shortstop Zach Vincej greeted Pasquale with an infield single and scored as left fielder Jesse Winker unloaded a double deep to center.

The Captains invested in some insurance runs as they scored three more in the eighth on Dayton reliever Mo Wiley. Third baseman Leonardo Castillo and catcher Martin Cervenka started the inning with a pair of walks and Castillo tagged and advanced to third on a fly ball. Left fielder Aaron Siliga came through with a single to score Castillo and Rodriguez laced another single to load the bases. Haase picked up his second hit of the evening as he singled to left to plate two, giving the Captains the 7-3 lead.

Louis Head entered the game to pitch the ninth, and despite yielding a lead-off single, slammed the door on the Dragons as he converted the next three outs unscathed.

As Merritt earned his first win of the season, Captains’ manager Scooter Tucker noted the starter’s consistency. “He’s done a great job for us as far as mixing up his pitches, and obviously commands his pitches well, throws a lot of strikes, gives his defense a chance and works good tempo,” Tucker said.

Next, the Captains and Dragons complete the series as Joe Colon will start for Lake County against Dayton right-hander Drew Cisco (1-0, 1.38). According to Tucker, Colon is expected to make a few starts with the Captains. The right-hander started 19 games for the Captains last season, posting an 8-8 record and 2.90 ERA before his promotion to the high-A Carolina MudCats.

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.

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