Captains accentuate progress in twinbill split with Lansing

Jul 2—It was early on July 2 when members of the Lake County Captains got onto the field for a doubleheader later in the day against visiting Lansing.

The twinbill was a handful of hours away, but Captains manager Greg DiCenzo was sticking to his season-long game plan that accentuates two primary goals: Improvement and progress.

Yeah, wins and losses are important, but not at the expense of improvement and progress.

Later in the day, the host team split with the visiting Lugnuts, winning the opener, 8-0, and losing the nightcap, 4-2. But DiCenzo will take it, based on his goals of improvement and progress from his players.

“You see these guys in High-A take their lumps the first couple months when it’s freezing cold and me pushing them every day and getting used to my maniacal schedule at times in terms of early work and the amount we do,” DiCenzo said. “Like I’ve said before, you’re willing to concede wins early in the season for long-term development of players.

PHOTOS: Captains vs Lugnuts doubleheader, July 2, 2022

“If it’s just about wins, we probably wouldn’t be out here as long as we are every day, but it really is about progressing at a high rate and high level so someday they’re wearing that logo down the street.”

DiCenzo said the Captains’ twinbill split with the Lugnuts was “a tale of two games.” In the opener, the Captains (40-35) strung hits together and got a dynamic pitching performance by Rodney Boone for the seven-inning shutout victory.

In the nightcap, the Lugnuts (27-48) rode the power of a three-run homer by Matt Cross to negate a strong pitching performance by Lake County’s Doug Nikhazy.

“We’ll get back at it tomorrow with a chance to win the series,” DiCenzo said of the current six-game series.

In the opener, Boone had his most dynamic game as a Captain. He pitched a complete-game three-hitter as the Captains blanked the Lugnuts, 8-0.

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Boone, who started the season with the Lynchburg Hillcats before being brought to Lake County on June 7, walked two and struck out seven to earn his first win as a Captain pitcher. He is now 1-2.

“He pitched great,” DiCenzo said. “His first CG (complete game) of the year. He threw the ball really well. He had a good changeup. His offspeed pitches were really good and he elevated his fastball when he needed to.”

DiCenzo said the performance should be a confidence-booster for Boone, who lost his first two decisions at Lake County.

“I hope he can build on that,” the manager said. “He continues to look in the mirror every morning and knows that he belongs here.”

Boone got plenty of run support. It started early with Michael Amditis doubling into Gabriel Rodriguez in the second, with Petey Halpin following with a double of his own to make it 2-0. Joe Naranjo’s single to left scored Halpin to complete the three-run outburst.

Boone didn’t NEED more run support than that — not with the way he was dealing — but he got it anyway.

Korey Holland homered to left, deep over the bleachers, for a 4-0 lead in the fourth. A four-run sixth was highlighted by Johnathan Rodriguez’s two-run double to left that scored Naranjo and Alexfri Planez.

The nightcap didn’t go as well for the Captains, Cross made sure of that. Cross drove in all four of his team’s runs, the big blow being a three-run homer in the third inning. The Captains played catch-up for the rest of the night.

Nikhazy (2-4) scattered five hits and struck out five, but the Cross homer stung.

“He pitched good enough for better results,” DiCenzo said. “They strung together three hits with the double in the gap, the single and the (home run) in one inning.”

Lake County had more hits (eight) than the Lugnuts’ five, but left 10 runners on base. They had the bases loaded in the ninth when a strikeout ended the game in Lansing’s favor.

“We had a bundle of knocks in this game, we just didn’t string them together,” DiCenzo said.

The Captains and Lugnuts will wrap up the six-game series on July 3, with Lake County sending righty Tommy Mace (0-3, 5.87) against Lansing righty Oswaldo Berrios (1-8, 7.54).

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