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Lake County Sentinel
Captains two-hit Whitecaps in 8-1 win 
(Comstock Park, MI) – The Lake County Captains’ pitching staff held the West Michigan Whitecaps’ bats nearly silent on Wednesday afternoon at Fifth Third Ballpark. Led by starting pitcher Matt Esparza, the Captains held West Michigan to just two hits, en route to an 8-1 win in the rubber match of the three-game series.

Esparza (2-1) was extremely efficient in his third start of the season. The right-hander only needed 64 pitches to get through six innings, an average of 10.6 pitches per inning, and still managed to strike out seven men. Esparza only allowed three men to reach base: Will Maddox singled in the third, Jose Azocar walked in the fifth and Maddox doubled in the fifth to score Azocar for West Michigan’s only run. Esparza earned the win for the second start in a row.

The bullpen flawlessly disposed of the Whitecaps in the final three innings. Left-hander Matt Whitehouse pitched two perfect innings in the seventh and eighth and Kieran Lovegrove pitched a one-two-three ninth inning to secure the win. Lake County’s pitchers retired the final 13 West Michigan hitters in order.

On the offensive side, the Captains wasted early opportunities to score against Whitecaps starter Jordan Smith, but exploded for eight runs in three innings against the bullpen. The Captains struck for six runs in the fifth and sixth innings against West Michigan reliever Jon Maciel, who was ultimately saddled with the loss, and another two runs against Kyle Dowdy.

Sam Haggerty and Bobby Ison opened the scoring for the Captains in the fifth. Haggerty scored the first run of the game when a wild pitch by Maciel sailed over the head of catcher Shane Zeile. Haggerty scored from third base and Ison moved up to third. Ison scored shortly thereafter on a sacrifice fly by Willi Castro.

Lake County’s offense really hit the gas in the sixth, as the Captains scored four runs on six hits. Haggerty knocked in the first run of the inning with a sacrifice fly that scored Francisco Mejia and Ison followed with an RBI double that brought Martin Cervenka home. Nathan Lukes finished off the rally with a two-run single.

Mejia and Cervenka combined to give Lake County its final two runs in the seventh. After a leadoff walk to Tyler Krieger, Mejia roped an RBI double to left field and Cervenka knocked in Mejia with a two-bagger of his own. Mejia finished the day 3-for-5 at the plate to push his team-best hitting streak to nine games. He also leads the Captains in RBI with 12.

Lake County took two out of three games from West Michigan and has now won three out of four series to start the season. The Captains, who are now the first team to reach 10 wins in the Midwest League this season, will take their 10-4 record to Lansing, MI to begin a four-game series with the Lansing Lugnuts on Thursday. RHP Shao-Ching Chiang will get the start for the Captains in game one against LHP Angel Perdomo. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. 
tshirer@lakecountysentinel.com or follow Tim on Twitter @IndiansTim Check out our IndiansNation fan page
​POSTED 04/20/2016 21:11