The West Michigan Whitecaps took an early lead and used a 13-hit performance in a 7-4 victory over the Kane County Cougars in front of a season-high crowd of 7,700 fans amidst a celebration of Hispanic Heritage Saturday night at Fifth Third Ballpark.
The Whitecaps, dressed as Las Calaveras de West Michigan — the Skulls — as part of Minor League Baseball’s Copa de le Diversion, produced five runs through the first five innings. Meanwhile, ‘Caps starter Gio Arriera stranded two Cougars on base in the first to escape trouble.
An Ulrich Bojarski groundout in the first inning off Kane County starter Adrian Del Moral brought home Sam McMillan and gave the ‘Whitecaps an early 1-0 lead. Three hits and a walk upped the lead to 2-0 in the second for the Whitecaps. West Michigan scored again in the bottom of the fifth with a three-run outburst and a 5-0 lead as Nick Quintana broke a 1-20 slide with a two-run double. Chris Proctor and Andre Lipcius set the table with back-to-back singles in the inning. Arriera worked a productive start to the sixth inning but walked three to load the bases and exited the game with one out. A sacrifice fly and a triple off ‘Caps reliever Sandel De La Cruz brought home three runs for the Cougars, and the lead slimmed to 5-3. Parker Meadows was forced to leave the game after the top of the fifth after making contact with fellow outfielder Bryant Packard chasing down a fly ball. The ‘Caps came right back as Proctor and Lipcius added RBI’s in the bottom of the sixth to increase the advantage to 7-3. Kane County added a late eighth-inning run off Liarvis Breto to make the score 7-4, but ‘Caps newcomer Zack Hess shut down the Cougars in order in the ninth to earn the save and secure the win.
Arriera (3-6) won his first game since May 1st, allowing only three singles in 5.1 innings, walking five and recording five strikeouts. Del Moral (1-1) lost his first game of 2019, giving up nine hits and four earned runs. Del Moral struck out three and walked two. Lipcius and Proctor lead the offense with three hits each for the Whitecaps. Proctor was pressed into duty after McMillan left the game after fouling a pitch off his foot in the first inning, while Parker Meadows left the game with a bruised knee in the sixth. The Whitecaps limited Kane County to seven hits and snapped a two-game losing streak. West Michigan improves to 30-60 and 9-13 in the second half. Kane County, who entered the game tied for first place in the Western Division, slipped to 14-8 and 49-42 in 2019. The Whitecaps enjoyed their best hit total since a 20-hit attack in a 15-1 victory over Dayton on June 26th to take the win in the first game of a three-game series and the fourth game of a six-game homestand.
The Whitecaps continue this three-game series against the Kane County Cougars Sunday night from Fifth Third Ballpark at 6:00 pm. Pitcher Hugh Smith starts for West Michigan against Kane County Cougars righty Jackson Goddard. Broadcast coverage with Dan Hasty and Mike Coleman begins 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 visitingwww.whitecapsbaseball.com.