EASTLAKE, OHIO – The Captains used a gem from Shao-Ching Chiang and drew 12 walks to defeat the Bowling Green Hot Rods 7-2 in the first game of the three-game weekday series.
Chiang gave up 1 run on 5 hits, striking out one and not walking a single batter in 7 innings. He kept the ball low and was a groundball-inducing machine, retiring 11 batters via groundballs.
Chiang got through the fourth inning on just four pitches and retired the last seven batters he faced before being relieved by Jared Robinson in the eighth.
Manager Tony Mansolino said this was Chiang’s best start of the season.
“He commanded multiple pitches, attacked the zone with his fastball, had some life to the ball,” Mansolino said. “It’s probably one of the better games we’ve seen here pitched for anybody.”
Knuckleballer Taylor Hawkins couldn’t find the strike zone in the bottom of the first and gifted two runs to Lake County.
Sam Haggerty scored when Nathan Lukes was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, and Willi Castro scored on a bases-loaded walk by Yonathan Mendoza.
Bowling Green got its first run of the game in the second when Kevin Padlo hit a ground rule double down the third base line to bring home Brett Sullivan, who singled to open the inning.
Michael Velasquez relieved Hawkins in the 5th and struck out the side, but not in order. Mendoza got an insurance run for the Captains when he singled home Lukes to give Lake County a 3-1 lead.
The Captains added two more in the sixth after loading the bases on two walks and a single. Yonathan Mendoza’s ground ball bounced right off of first baseman Joe McCarthy’s glove and into right field.
Castro and Tyler Krieger scored on the error to give the Captains a 5 – 1 lead after six innings.
In the 8th, Mendoza singled home Lukes and Connor Marabell, who both walked to give Lake County a 7-1 lead. Six of the seven runs scored by the Captains reached base via a base on balls.
Mansolino said it’s easy for young players to be impatient, but the patience of the Captains led to walks which helped score runs early.
“They didn’t force it, they took their walks, got something going, got out ahead early in the game,” Mansolino said. “And when we get out ahead early it really makes life a little bit easier.”
The Hot Rods scored a run in the top of the 9th on a Brett Sullivan RBI double, but it was not enough as the Captains won 7-2. Chiang got the win and improves to 4-3 on the year while the knuckleballer Hawkins took the loss to fall to 1-4.
With the win, the Captains improve to 30-22 on the season, 3-2 on the current homestand. Lake County and Bowling Green play again Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
Lefty Tom Pannone gets the nod for the Captains while the Hot Rods will send Roel Ramirez to the mound.