Beloit Snappers 5, Lake County Captains 3

The Lake County Captains lost the final game of their regular season, missing out on the postseason sweepstakes under the new MiLB alignments. The Captains finished ten games over .500 with a 65-55 record and ten games above .500 at home. The Cleveland Indians High-A affiliate went .500 on the road and against opponents with winning records. Despite missing the playoffs, they won the High-A Central East Division and are officially the champions of the division they are in under the new MiLB affiliate alignment.

Sunday starter Mason Hickman was on the bump for Lake County’s final game of the 2021 season, going five innings where he fought through jams that could’ve put Lake County away for good very early. He did not have the best command of his arsenal, missing the zone and leaving offerings in hittable spots over the dish. He allowed six hits, struck out three, and walked one while throwing 83 pitches, 56 of those reaching the strike zone. He allowed four earned runs, keeping the possibility of a comeback intact that Lake County flirted with late in the game like they always seem to do. His fastball sits in the low nineties, and his secondary pitches are a 12-6 curveball(his best pitch), a split-changeup, and a slider. Kevin Kelly threw one inning where he allowed two hits, one earned run and struck out one batter. Nate Ocker went two innings, allowing just a hit and no earned runs, striking out two batters in the process. Cade Smith threw the last inning of the 2021 season for the Cleveland Indians High-A affiliate, going perfect with two strikeouts.

Lake County went down early after Beloit pushed two runs across the plate in the first inning, putting the home team behind the eight ball very early. Holding the line until the top of the sixth inning, they hemorrhaged three more runs to wind up in a 5-0 hole. Lake County responded with three runs in the bottom of the sixth and threatened to score more, but left the runs on base that would’ve brought them a chance to fight for their playoff spot. Lake County squandered an opportunity with multiple runners on base in the fourth inning to put runs on the board with multiple men on base due to an untimely double play. In the bottom of the ninth Lake County got their first three batters on base with no outs. With the heart of the lineup coming to bat in José Tena, Jhonkensy Noel, and Micah Pries with the game and a potential playoff berth on the line, the miracle we all wanted to happen did not happen.

1B Joe Naranjo and SS José Tena were responsible for seven of the eleven hits Lake County tallied during the game, the first baseman going 4-4 and the shortstop going 3-5. Catcher Mike Amditis had the other multiple-hit game for the Captains, going 2-4. OFs Micah Pries and Jonathan Rodriguez accounted for the other two hits garnered by the home team. The position player group struck out nine times, walked three times, left nineteen men on base, and went 2-8 with runners in scoring position. Run producing machine Jhonkensy Noel was completely neutralized as he left six men on base in his five plate appearances, the most of any player on the team.

Standing Out

Shortstop José Tena frequently stood out to me with his play on the field from the first game he played at Lake County to the last game of the season where he went 3-5. Ranked by all managers in the High-A East league as being the best defensive shortstop and having the best infield arm when compared to his peers. Amongst all shortstops in all three High-A leagues, Tena is fifth in OPS, sixth in ISO, fifth in wRC+, second in singles, third in doubles, and fourth in home runs. He is also ninth in runs scored, seventh in RBI, fourth in batting average, second in total hits, tied for first for games played, and fourth in plate appearances. Tena was a consistent presence on the field for Lake County, providing value and personifying what it means to be an everyday player.

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