The West Michigan Whitecaps continued to struggle with men on base in a 4-3 loss to the Dayton Dragons Wednesday night in front of 4,525 fans at Fifth Third Ballpark.
West Michigan left nine men on base, going hitless in their seven at-bats with runners in scoring position, failing to spark a rally in dropping their 19th one-run game in 24 tries this season.
Dayton struck first plating three runs in the third inning highlighted by a Miles Gordon two-run double to take a 3-0 lead. Chris Proctor lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to score Jose King, and slim the Dragons lead to 3-1. Miguel Hernandez doubled home a run in the sixth to extend the Dragons lead to 4-1. The Whitecaps loaded the bases in the sixth before Zach Malis grounded out to first to end the threat. An inning later, Kingston Liniak scored on a double-steal before Dragons pitcher Matt Pidich sent a wild throw to first base – Dayton’s fifth error on the night – allowing Jose King to score and trimming the Dragons edge to 4-3. The Whitecaps were unable to rally, as Pidich and Connor Bennett combined to retire seven-straight Whitecaps hitters to slam the door on a 4-3 Dragons victory.
Whitecaps starter Robbie Welhaf (2-1) tossed five innings allowing three runs on four hits and five strikeouts in his first loss of the season. Dragons starting pitcher Jared Solomon (1-3) wielded five innings allowing one run on five hits in his first 2019 victory. Three pitchers came on in relief for the Dragons: Eduardo Salazar pitched 1.1 innings allowing two runs on two hits while Pidich threw 1.2 innings allowing no runs on four strikeouts before Bennett tallied the final three outs in the ninth on no hits and one strikeout in his sixth save on the year. Both clubs have a 20-39 record heading into the series finale tomorrow at Fifth Third Ballpark. The Whitecaps are hitting .183 in late and close game situations — down from a .249 team batting average to rank 4th-highest in the Midwest League.
The Whitecaps and Dayton Dragons conclude this series on Thursday at 7:05 pm. Pitcher Wilkel Hernandez gets the start for West Michigan against Dayton righty Jhon De Jesus. Broadcast coverage with Dan Hasty and Chad Bush begins on the Whitecaps Baseball Network at 6:55 pm. Tickets are available for any Whitecaps 2019 home contest by calling the Whitecaps front office at 616-784-4131 or by visiting www.whitecapsbaseball.com.