After an offensive explosion the previous two games, the West Michigan Whitecaps bats went silent and managed only two hits, falling 1-0 to the Dayton Dragons in front of 5,838 fans Friday night at Fifth Third Ballpark.
The ‘Caps collected 32 hits and 21 runs in consecutive wins the last two nights, but Dragons starter Ricky Salinas proved stingy, giving up two singles and only one walk. The Whitecaps had five base runners overall with just two reaching scoring position.
In the finale of the four-game series, Salinas retired the first nine Whitecaps batters he faced. The ‘Caps fell behind in the second inning as a Pabel Manzanero solo home run off starter Robbie Welhaf provided Dayton a 1-0 advantage. Dayton put runners in scoring position in the next three innings, but Welhaf closed out each inning with strikeouts. West Michigan failed to record a hit until a Rey Rivera single in the fifth inning. One out later Vinny Esposito reached base on an error but the ‘Caps stranded both runners in their best scoring chance of the game. With two out in the sixth, Dayton manager Luis Bolivar requested that home plate umpire Steven Rios check Welhaf on suspicion of having a foreign substance on him. The umpires determined Welhaf did so and ejected him from the game. Dayton loaded the bases in the seventh, but ‘Caps reliever Jose Vasquez shut down the threat by inducing an inning-ending groundout. The Whitecaps left runners on base in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings and went down in order in the ninth as Dayton salvaged a win in the last game of the series.
Welhaf (2-3) absorbed his second loss for West Michigan, allowing five hits and striking out six. Salinas (3-3) evened his record for 2019 with the victory, working 5.1 innings and striking out four. Salinas has shut out the Whitecaps in eleven innings covering two starts in 2019. Vasquez and Angel Reyes combined to limit Dayton to three singles over the final 3.1 innings, walking only one and striking out three. In taking three wins in the four games vs. Dayton, West Michigan secured their first series win since May 11, when they took two of three games against the Cedar Rapids Kernels. West Michigan and Dayton now both share 3-5 records in the second half standings. The Whitecaps fall to 24-53 while Dayton snapped a four-game slide and improved to 31-47.
The Whitecaps open a three-game series against the first-place Lake County Captains from Fifth Third Ballpark on Saturday at 7:05 pm. Pitcher Robbie Welhaf makes the start for West Michigan against the Captains Luis Oviedo. Broadcast coverage with Dan Hasty and Mike Coleman starts 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.