Captains Magic Number drops to 10 with 8-7 win
BY TIM SHIRER
CAPTAINS BEAT WRITER
(EASTLAKE, OH) - The Lake County Captains and Cedar Rapids Kernel’s wrapped up their six-game series on Sunday afternoon. Heading into the contest the Captains had taken four of the first five games losing only Friday’s game and shutting out the Kernel’s 6-0 Saturday night. Sunday was a slugfest as the Captains held on to secure the 8-7 win and send the 3,596 at Classic Park home happy.
The Kernel’s struck first off Captains starter Doug Nikhazy. Nikhazy, a lefty got into trouble in the first inning loading the bases giving up two single and issued a base on balls but was able to escape with no damage.
The second inning was not so kind to the south paw as the Kernels scored three runs. The trouble began immediately as he issued a leadoff walk to Jeferson Morales. Nikhazy’s defense did not help him as the next hitter Dylan Neuse hit a ground ball to shortstop Yordys Valdes, he could not come up with it cleanly, Neuse reached first on the error and Morales moved to second base. After Nikhazy got Willy Joe Garry, Jr. on strikes Jake Rucker came to the plate and tripled to center field driving home both runners giving the Kernels a 2-0 lead. Brook Lee then reached base by hitting a grounder to third baseman Milan Tolentino. Tolentino attempted to tag out Rucker which he did not, and the Kernels then had runners at the corners with one out. Nikhazy’s day got worse as he issued a base on balls to Mikey Perez to load the bases. He did get the second out of the inning when Wander Javier flew out, but Rucker tagged up and scored the Kernels third run. The inning finally came to an end when Nikhazy got Kyle Fedko to ground out to the shortstop for the third out.
The Captains came right back in the bottom of the second inning with two runs. The inning began with a Christian Cairo base on balls followed by Connor Kokx double to put men on second and third with no outs. Korey Holland followed with a single driving home Cairo and cut the Kernels lead to two at 3-1. With Micael Ramirez at the plate Holland got caught stealing for the first out in the inning. Ramirez then singled to left field driving home Kokx cutting the Kernels lead to 3-2.
The Kernels knock Nikhazy out of the game in the third inning. The Kernels loaded the bases on two base on balls and a fielding error by Tolentino. The second walk of the inning marked the end of the for Nikhazy. Captains skipper Greg DiCenzo went to his bullpen and relaced the left with Raymond Burgos. Burgos immediately got the first batter he faced Garry, Jr. to ground into a double play with Pat Winkel who led the inning off with a walk scored extending the Kernels lead to 4-2. Burgos retired the next batter on strikes to end the threat and keep the Kernels lead at two runs.
The Captains struck back in the bottom of the third inning with three runs to take the lead off Kernels starter Tyler Palm. The first two hitters in the inning reached base when Joe Naranjo was hit by a pitch and Alexfri Planez was hit by a pitch. After Petey Halpin flew out and with Cairo at the plate Naranjo stole third base, it was his sixth solen base of the season. Cairo then laced a triple to right field scoring both Naranjo and Planez tying the game 4-4. With Kokx at the plate Palm uncorks a wild pitch and Cairo trotted home with the go ahead run.
Lake County added another run in the fourth inning when Bobby Milacki son of former Major Leaguer Bob Milacki entered the game for the Kernels. The run came when Ramirez singled to lead off the inning, moved to second on a ground ball out and then scored on a single by Tolentino extending the Captains lead to 6-4.
The Captains added two insurance runs in the fifth inning that turned out to be the difference in the game. Two runs came when Ryan Shreve replaced Milacki to start the inning. Shreve retired Halpin to start the inning, then Cairo reached on a fielding error by Wander Javier at third base. With Cairo on first Kokx singled and then scored on a throwing error by Brooks Lee and Kokx ended up at second base. When Korey Holland struck out swinging Kokx stole third base. The theft was Kokx 10th of the season. Micael Ramirez then drew a base on balls putting men on second and third with two outs. Ramirez was then caught between first and second and eventually put out 2-6-3 but not before Kokx crossed home plate with what ended up being the deciding run in the game.
Things got a little to close for comfort for Lake County in the seventh inning when the Kernels scored three runs off Captains reliever Zach Hart. Alaska Abney came in and got the final out of the inning earning his third hold of the season keeping the Captains lead at 8-7.
Raymond Burgos who entered the game in the third inning in relief of Nikhazy earned the win. He pitched three scoreless innings allowing only one hit and struck out two Kernels. With the win the big lefty improves to 7-3 on the year with a 2.14 ERA. Kernels reliever righthander Bradley Hanner took the loss and falls to 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA.
With the win the Captains Magic Number to clinch the Midwest League Eastern Division Second Half title falls to 10 as the West Michigan Whitecaps lost today to South Bend and are three games behind Lake County.
The Captains will be off on Monday before traveling to Midland, Michigan to take on the Great Lakes Loons for six games at Dow Diamond. No starting pitchers have been announced. The first game of the series is on Tuesday at 7:05 pm.
POSTED 08/28/2022 16:35