MWL Series of the Week: Lake County Takes Three of Four at Lansing
The Lake County Captains (22-27) traveled to Lansing, Michigan to take on the Lansing Lugnuts (20-29) in a four game weekend series that highlights last week’s Midwest League action. Both teams are in the bottom half of the Eastern division standings in the second half of the 2017 season, but there was still plenty of action between the two squads that feature some of the top prospects in the Midwest League.
Game one got the series kicked off on Thursday night as the Lugnuts sent Kyle Weatherly to the mound to square off against the Captains starter, Brady Aiken. Aiken was the story in game one as he tossed seven solid innings where he allowed just one hit, a solo homer off the bat of Edward Olivares. While Aiken did post one of his best performances of the 2017 season, he did issue four free passes to extend his current trend of control issues. The Captains left hander and Cleveland Indians former first round draft pick has struggled to find the strike zone issuing 85 walks in 112 innings pitched this season. For some perspective, the next closest pitcher in the MWL has issued just 56. Offensively, the Captains got a hit from every starter except for one en route to their 7-1 road victory.
Looking to tie the series up at one a piece, the Lugnuts sent starter Andy Ravel to the mound to face off with Juan Hillman. The starters put up similar lines in game two as they both worked five innings while allowing a couple of runs. The Captains would break that 2-2 tie in the top of the sixth thanks to a three run homer off of the bat of Conner Capel, his 19th of the season. With the visiting team’s offense seemingly firing on all cylinders for the second night in a row, things did not look good for the the home team as they trailed 6-2 in the bottom of the eighth. A JB Woodman RBI triple gave the hometown fans a little hope as the Lugnuts pulled within three, but one of the best closers in the league, Dalbert Siri, was set to try and shut the door on the Lugnuts. That’s exactly what he did, but not without a little drama first. A bases loaded walk and a fielding error cost the Captains two runs, but it did not cost them the game as they held on for a 6-5 win.
Looking to salvage the series with a game three victory, the Lugnuts sent former third round pick Patrick Murphy to the mound hoping that he could silence the hot bats of the visiting Captains. However, when a lineup is rolling, it is hard to stop. After cruising through three innings, Murphy would ultimately surrender five runs, just three earned, over six frames, leaving it up to the Lugnut bats to take control of the game. They answered the call with a three run sixth and a three run seventh inning. After blowing their one run lead in the top of the eighth, it would require some clutch hitting from the home team to avoid a certain series loss. Luckily for the Lugnuts, they had the one bright spot in their lineup through the series up with bases loaded. Edward Olivares did what he does best and drove in the game winning run with a single on a 3-1 count. The Lugnuts were in the win column and set their sights on Sunday in hopes of splitting the four game set.
The Captains lineup felt right at home in Lansing as they put up seven more runs in the final game of the series, giving them a total of 26 over the four game road set. While the offense was impressive yet again, the Captains pitching staff was the story line of game four. Zach Plesac, Justin Garza, and Henry Martinez combined to allow six hits with just two walks while striking out 11 on the day en route to their shutout of the Lugnuts and the Captains 7-0 victory.
The Lugnuts will take to the road for a four game set with Great Lakes while the Captains wrap up their road trip with a four game series in Bowling Green. Both of those series start tonight.