The West Michigan Whitecaps trailed early, but the offense caught fire in the middle innings to rally from a three-run deficit to defeat the Lake County Captains 7-3 in front of a season-high 7,655 fans Saturday night at Fifth Third Ballpark.
The Captains took a 3-0 lead in the third inning, but the Whitecaps came roaring back to score all their runs over the next four innings and took the win in the first game of the three-game series. ‘Caps starting pitcher Gio Arriera, ran into early trouble by giving up four hits and two runs. After being down 3-0 in the third, the Whitecaps began their comeback. Parker Meadows crushed a 415-foot solo home run to center field off Captains pitcher Luis Oviedo to close the deficit to 3-1. After Arriera departed in the fourth, Chance Kirby delivered an outstanding performance out of the ‘Caps bullpen, throwing 3.1 innings, not allowing a base runner and keeping the Whitecaps in the game. Adding another run in the fourth and trailing 3-2, West Michigan responded with three runs in the fifth and took their first lead at 5-3. A double by Wenceel Perez and a Chris Proctor single drove home runs to highlight the frame. Two more Whitecap runs crossed the plate in the sixth as Perez drove home Meadows with a sacrifice fly and Hector Martinez produced a run-scoring single.
The 7-3 score carried to the ninth inning as Jared Tobey finished 2.1 innings of solid relief work by retiring Lake County to preserve the Whitecaps win. Meadows paced an 11-hit night with a single, double and homer for West Michigan and came within a triple of hitting for the cycle. Martinez and Perez each enjoyed two-RBI games for the Whitecaps who have won four of their last five games. In that stretch, the ‘Caps pitching staff has recorded a team ERA of 1.84. The Whitecaps offense has batted .359 over the same period. Kirby (3-3) evened his season record with the victory for West Michigan, and Oviedo (6-4) took the loss allowing four earned runs and seven hits in 4.2 innings.
The Whitecaps win helped take the sting out of being swept in four games at Lake County last week and guaranteed their first winning homestand of the season. The win improves West Michigan’s record to 25-53 and 4-5 in the Midwest League’s second-half standings. Lake County, who qualified for the playoffs in the season’s first half, dropped to 6-2 in the second half and 46-32 overall.
The Whitecaps continue this three-game series against the Captains from Fifth Third Ballpark on Sunday at 6:00 pm. Pitcher Hugh Smith makes the start for West Michigan against the Juan Mota for Lake County. Broadcast coverage with Dan Hasty and Mike Coleman starts on the Whitecaps Baseball Network at 5:50 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.