It was announced recently that Classic Park in Eastlake, home of the Low-A Lake County Captains, will be the training site of the 2020 Cleveland Indians Taxi Squad. Turns out June 30 is a rather eventful day in the history of that park’s usual tenants, with the Caps involved in notable games in seven of the past 15 June finales.

June 30, 2008

The Captains entered the ninth frame down 2-1 to the Delmarva Shorebirds (Baltimore Orioles) at their home ballpark (this is the one South Atlantic League game in this column). DH Matthew Brown led off the inning with a ground ball double to right to put the game-tying run in scoring position. Following a sacrifice bunt from 2B Karexon Sanchez, pinch-hitter Jansy Infante grounded out to second without scoring Brown from third, putting the rally in serious jeopardy. The game should’ve ended on the next at-bat. but Shorebirds SS Pedro Florimon Jr. misplayed the ball, allowing his Lake County counterpart Mark Thompson to reach and Brown to score, both continuing the game and ensuring a bottom of the ninth. RF and number nine hotter Lucas Montero followed with a homer over the right field wall to give the Caps the lead and cap off the rally. Kyle Landis closed the game out for his first of six saves (in as many opportunities) that season.


June 30, 2010

Two years later, the Captains found themselves again down a run going into their final turn at bat, this time at home and in the Midwest League. The Great Lakes Loons (Los Angeles Dodgers) led 3-2 going into the bottom of the ninth, which SS Casey Frawley began with a walk. C Chun-Hsiu Chen followed with a liner to right for a single. The game ended soon after on a three-run homer off the bat of 1B Jeremie Tice.


June 30, 2012

Another 731 days later (due to the leap year), the Captains won comfortably 7-4 over the West Michigan Whitecaps (Detroit Tigers). This game is notable because leadoff hitter and 2B Jose Ramirez went 5-for-5 with a double, a pair of runs, and a stolen base in the leadoff spot. The scoring was led off by a three-run Alex Monsalve homer in the first inning, one of his two hits on the day. Francisco Lindor was at his usual shortstop position and batting second that day. He was 1-for-4 with his 24th RBI of the season (on a sac fly) and a strikeout.


June 30, 2013

From here on out, the remaining games in this column are separated by only a single year. The 2013 game on this date was a nail-biter due to the lack of runs. The Eastlake nine scored only once, when 3B Todd Hankins scored from first on a one-out triple by SS Dorssys Paulino. That run held up, however, thanks to a combined three-hit shutout by starter Dylan Baker, who hurled eight frames, allowing only two hits and a walk while striking out four, and closer Josh Martin, who picked up his second save of the season despite allowing a pair of baserunners (a hit and a hit batter). Special mention to C Eric Haase, who threw out Fort Wayne TinCaps (San Diego Padres) pinch runner Brian Adams to end the game after Martin allowed the pair of two-out baserunners.


June 30, 2014

The following June wrapped up in much more leisurely fashion for the Captains, who trounced the Dragons (Cincinnati Reds) 13-2 in downtown Dayton. Five Captains had multi-hit evenings, led by C Richard Stock’s three. 1B Nellie Rodriguez scored a trio of runs to lead four Captains with multi-run nights and was one of two Tribe farmhands (LF Dorssys Paulino) to drive in three to co-lead a quartet of multi-RBI Captains. 3B (and current Lynchuburg Hillcats hitting coach) Grant Fink hit a pair of home runs as well.

The pitching staff performed well also, especially the bullpen. Relievers Wander Beras and Carlos Melo needed to face the batters to get the last eleven outs of the game (thanks to the first batter Beras faced grounding into a double play to end the sixth).


June 30, 2015

Another June-ending roadtrip, another blowout victory for the Eastlake Nine. This time they were in suburban Grand Rapids thrashing the Whitecaps. The 12-1 thumping of the Low-A Tigers included a four-hit, four-run night from 3B Taylor Murphy, three-hit games from CF Greg Allen, RF Anthony Santander, and LF Dorssys Paulino. Starting 2B Steven Patterson drove in three runs, two of them on a third-inning triple (his only one of the season and the second and final of a brief affiliated ball career – the other coming in 2014 for the Scrappers. He would go on to thit three more professional triples in two season with the independent Traverse City Beach Bums of the Frontier League). DH Bobby Bradley (2-5, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K) and C Francisco Mejia (2-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI) had solid evenings at the plate as well.

I don’t usually bring up negative stats for Indians affiliates, but this one was too staggering to ignore. The Captains stranded 33 runners on base, eleven of them left there by SS Yu Chang alone. Imagine the score if the Captains has hit even better with RISP. This could’ve been a record-breaker.

The Captain pitchers were stellar as well. Starter Thomas Pannone went 6.2 frames, allowing only one run. Nick Pasquale finished the seventh and pitched a perfect eighth, alternating strikeouts and groundouts. Luke Eubank finished the job, forcing a trio of ninth-inning groundouts.


June 30, 2016

Just like their counterparts three years earlier, the 2016 Captains pitchers finished the third month of the season with a three-hit effort. Unfortunately, in this case it was the South Bend Cubs (affiliate obvious) who scored the lone run of the game. Starter Matt Esparza gave up the run in his third and final inning of work that day. It was the only blemish on an otherwise spectacular outing (6 IP, 3, 1 R [earned], 1 BB, 7 K). The eventual game-winning tally came as the culmination of seemingly minor events. Cubs 2B Carlos Sepulveda reached base on a bunt single fielded by C Sicnarf Loopstok, stole second, and advanced to third on the aforementioned wild pitch before being singled in by South Bend CF Donnie Dewees. Normally, this quirky stretch of bad luck would be written off as a minor nuisance, but in a pitchers’ duel like this, it can be the entire game.

Relievers Yoiber Marquina and Billy Strode each pitched a perfect frame, the former getting a strikeout, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the fact that the Captains lineup couldn’t manage a run from seven hits and a walk.



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