Photo: TCP Photography/Courtesy Lake County Captains

Lake County Captains 2, West Michigan White Caps 1

After losing their past two games by a combined 16 runs, the Captains leveled this week’s series against the West Michigan Whitecaps at two games a piece with a tightly-contested 2-1 win Friday night.

Jhonkensy Noel got things started with a solo home run, his 12th of the season, to lead off the second, which was Lake County’s only hit in the first three innings. The Whitecaps answered with a sac fly in the fourth to tie the game, before getting at least one runner on base in each of the final four innings, loading the bases in both the sixth and the eighth. The Captains got a sac fly of their own in the seventh from catcher Mike Amditis, and that proved to be the difference as a Captains bullpen that had been shelled the previous night finished off the win.

Williams’ Dominance

Gavin Williams has been the Captains’ best starter this season, and Friday was no different. Williams went 6.1 brilliant innings, his longest start of the season, and struck out eight batters while allowing just one run on five hits.

His fastball-curveball combo baffled the Whitecaps’ hitters all night, but his best moment was a perfect third inning, in which he struck out the side on just 11 pitches. He finished the inning off by striking out a rehabbing Akil Baddoo looking with a beautiful pitch on the outside corner.

Williams’ stat line looked set to take a hit in his final inning, as he exited with a runner on second, but Alaska Abney worked out of a bases-loaded jam to keep it intact.

“He’s a competitor,” Captains manager Greg DiCenzo said. “He was able to spot up his fastball and bring it in and out of the zone when he needed to and elevate it when he needed to. It was just a really clean performance from him today.”

Pitcher’s Duel

Lake County and West Michigan must have used up most of their offense in Thursday’s 24-run homerfest, because on Friday the fans at Classic Park were treated to a pitchers duel between a pair of 2021 first-round picks in Williams and Whitecaps’ starter Ty Madden.

The two top prospects combined to strike out 15 total batters in 12.1 innings, while allowing just one run each on eight hits, five for Williams and three for Madden.

Even after the starters exited the game, there was little offense to be had, as the two bullpens allowed just one run between them while striking out four batters over the final few innings.

“Everyone came and executed big pitches in big spots,” DiCenzo said. “We didn’t come out on the right end last night but guys are still competing really hard and that’s what we’re looking for.”

Notes

The Captains turned four double plays Friday, including three in the final four innings and one to end the game in the ninth … The Captains will be back in action Saturday at 7:00 against the Whitecaps once again, and Doug Nikhazy, the Guardians 2nd round pick in 2021, will be on the mound, coming off his best start of the season on May 28, in which he allowed just one hit across 4.2 shutout innings.

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