Delgado's late pinch-hit heroics lead Captains to 8-6 win
BY TIM SHIRER
CAPTAINS BEAT WRITER
(EASTLAKE, OH) - The Lake County Captains and Beloit Snappers played game two of their six game series on Wednesday afternoon at Classic Park. The first pitch was scheduled at 12:00 p.m., but due to the morning rain the first pitch was pushed back an hour to 1 p.m. The game turned out to be worth the wait as the Captains took and early 6-0 lead only to have Snapper tie the game late, but the Captains won it 8-6 with some late pinch-hit heroics.
The Captains jumped on Snapper’s starting pitcher Dax Fulton immediately. The lefty issued a leadoff walk to Miguel Cairo, followed by a sharp line drive single to right field by Jose Tena to move Cairo second base. After Jhonkensy Noel popped out in the Fifield, Micah Pries grounded into a fielder’s choice and Tena was retired at second. With runners on the corners Johnathan Rodriguez doubled to left field driving home Cairo and Pries with the Captains first two runs of the game. Joe Naranjo then hit a blooper between the second baseman, shortstop and centerfielder that dropped for a single sending Rodriguez across the plate giving Lake County a 3-0. Fulton was able to strike out Mike Amditis to end the inning and limit the damage by the captains to three runs.
The bottom of the second inning was no better for Fulton, in fact he was not able to finish the inning. He was able to retire Gianpaul Gonzalez on a ground out to start the inning. He then allowed a single to Julian Escobedo then looked like the inning might go his way when he struck out Cairo looking for the second out, then things unraveled. He issued a base on balls to Tena. Escobedo then stole third base, his fifth of the season, the throw was errant, and Escobedo beat the throw home scoring Lake County’s fourth run. Tena moved up to second base on the play. The big blow in the inning came next when Noel blasted his eighth home run of the season over the season over the right centerfield fence to give the Captains a 6-0 advantage.
The Snappers got on the board in the top of the third inning when Captains starter Tanner Burns issued a one out walk to Devin Hairston. After the base on balls to Hairston Burns gave up a double to Ricky Aracena moving Hairston to third base. Burns then uncorked a wild pitch and Hairston sprinted home with the Snappers first run.
The Snappers added a second run in the top of the fourth inning when Bennett Hosteler doubled to right field gap. Troy Johnston followed with a single to right field. Captains first baseman Joe Naranjo made and errant throw on a relay which allowed Hosteler to score and close the Beloit deficit to 6-2.
The top of the sixth inning was the final inning for Burns. The inning began with Connor Scott tripling to right field, followed by Hosteler who doubled to left field driving home Scott with the Snappers third run. Burns faced one more hitter Johnston who he issued a base on balls. Captains Manager Greg DiCenzo lifted Burns in favor of reliever Nathan Ocker. Ocker got the first batter he faced Thomas Jones to pop out to the catcher. He then walked Dustin Skelton to load the bases. Hairston then reached on a rare fielding error by Captains shortstop Jose Tena and Hostetler scored with the Snapper’s fourth run closing the gap to 6-4. Ocker stopped the damage and kept the score at 6-4 when he retired the next two hitters.
The Snappers pulled to within one run in the seventh inning when with two outs Ocker issued a base on balls to Hostetler followed by a single off the bat of Johnston moving Hostetler to third base. At that point DiCenzo replaced Ocker with Kevin Kelly. Kelly got off to a bit of a rough start as he unloaded a wild pitch and Hostetler scored from third the Snapper’s fifth run. Kelly then got Jones on strikes to end the threat and maintain the Captains one run lead.
Kelly however was not so lucky in the top of the eighth inning. After recording the first two outs in the inning he allowed a laser shot off the bat of Aracena that traveled over the right field fence to tie the game 6-6. The home run was Aracena’s third of the season.
All season the Captains have found a way to come up clutch in the late innings. Wednesday was no different as DiCenzo pinch hit for Gonzalez with a man on and two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning he called on Raynel Delgado. With Naranjo on first base after a single with one out Delgado launched the first pitch he saw, a changeup that stayed up from Beloit reliever Eli Villalobos over the right center field fence to give the Captains an 8-6 lead. The home run was Delgado’s sixth of the season. The fact that Delgado could launch a home run let alone see the ball after being hit by a ground ball in his left eye on Sunday night was even more impressive. Delgado was thankful after the game saying that he was just cleared to pinch hit prior to the game.
Kelly picked up the win for Lake County it was his fifth as he improves to 5-5 on the year with a 4.58 ERA. Nick Gallagher came in with two outs in the ninth inning to record the final out of the game and notch his third save of the season. Villalobos took the loss for the Snappers falling to 1-3 with a 4.24 ERA.
With the win the Captains temporarily move ahead of the Great Lakes Loons by a half game and a half game behind the Cedar Rapids Kernels for the second and final playoff spot in the High-A Central. The Loons (7:05 p.m.) and Kernels (7:35 p.m.) both play later tonight.
The clubs will play game three of the series on Thursday night at 6:35 p.m. M.D. Johnson will tow the rubber for the Snappers. Johnson, a righty is 3-4 with a 2.25 ERA. Lefty Zach Draper will be on the hill for the Captains. Draper is 2-2 with a 4.42 ERA.
POSTED 09/15/2021 15:05