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Lake County Sentinel
Captains win 400th Midwest League game with 6-3 win over Whitecaps 
(Comstock Park, MI) – The Lake County Captains reached a franchise milestone on Tuesday night with a 6-3 win over the West Michigan Whitecaps at Fifth Third Ballpark. With the win, the Captains secured the franchise’s 400th victory since they joined the Midwest League in 2010.

The Captains have made a trend out of scoring early in ballgames this year, and again Lake County delivered with a pair of runs in the first inning. Francisco Mejia drove in the first run of the game with an RBI double down the right field line and later came around to score himself on an RBI single by Connor Marabell. Before West Michigan even got a chance to hit, the Captains had a 2-0 lead.

Captains left-handed starter Sam Hentges pitched well to hold the lead, but had to work out of a couple of jams. West Michigan loaded the bases in the third inning on a pair of bunt singles and a walk, but Hentges (1-1) induced Will Allen to hit an inning-ending pop out into foul territory.

Hentges faced danger again in the fourth when an error and a walk helped the Whitecaps put two runners into scoring position. The lefty was equal to the task again, however. Hentges got Cam Gibson to fly out to right to end the frame and maintain the Captains’ two-run lead.

Lake County added what turned out to be an important insurance run in the fifth inning thanks to aggressive baserunning and a blunder by Gibson in centerfield. Nathan Lukes was on first with two outs and Willi Castro at the plate. Lukes took off running on the pitch and Castro served a single to center. As Lukes raced to third, Gibson misplayed the ball and it skipped past him. Lukes scored easily on the error to give Lake County a 3-0 lead.

Hentges had to work out of trouble one final time in the fifth. The Whitecaps put runners on first and second with one out, but the southpaw struck out Allen and Steven Fuentes to end the inning and end a successful night on the mound. Hentges tossed five scoreless innings and only allowed three hits, walked three and struck out five. He eventually earned his first win of the season.

West Michigan made it tough on the Captains down the stretch. The Whitecaps struck for a pair of runs against Lake County reliever Brock Hartson in the sixth inning to cut the Captains’ lead to one run and West Michigan came dangerously close to tying the game and taking the lead. Gibson and Rashad Brown hit back-to-back RBI singles to trim the Captains’ lead to 3-2 and the Whitecaps had runners on first and second with only one out. Hartson got out of the jam just in time, however. He got Brett Pirtle to pop out and struck out Shane Zeile to end the inning and keep the Captains up by one run.

Lake County responded in the seventh inning with three runs to make the lead more comfortable at 6-2. Silento Sayles hit a leadoff double, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Bobby Ison. The Captains quickly loaded the bases for Mejia and the catcher hit a hard ground ball to shortstop. David Gonzalez smothered the grounder, but could not find the ball between his legs, allowing Ison to score. Sam Haggerty came through one batter later with an RBI single to put a cap on Lake County’s three-run rally.

The Whitecaps managed one more run in the ninth inning against Yoiber Marquina, but nothing more. After Allen hit an RBI single, Marquina struck out Fuentes and Azocar to end the game.

Whitecaps starter Sandy Baez took his second loss against the Captains in as many starts. Baez (0-2) allowed three runs, two earned, over 4.2 innings. He gave up six hits, walked one and struck out five.

Lake County’s 400th win in the Midwest League gives the Captains a 400-443 record since joining the league in 2010. The Captains had spent the first seven seasons of their existence in the South Atlantic League. Lake County is 9-4 this season and sits atop the Eastern Division of the Midwest League.

The Captains will go for Midwest League win number 401 and a series win against West Michigan on Wednesday. Lake County faces the Whitecaps in a matinee rubber match with first pitch at noon. RHP Matt Esparza will get the ball for the Captains against West Michigan RHP Jordan Smith. 
tshirer@lakecountysentinel.com or follow Tim on Twitter @IndiansTim Check out our IndiansNation fan page
​POSTED 04/20/2016 00:36