The West Michigan Whitecaps, going as the Beer City Bung Hammers, fell behind early as they fell to the Great Lakes Loons 6-2 in front of a season-best 9,135 fans Saturday at Fifth Third Ballpark.
For the fourth straight game, the Bung Hammers gave up an early lead and could not produce an offensive response, recording just six hits overall in the opener of a three-game series.
The Loons used a throwing error by Beer City starting pitcher Gio Arriera to score the game’s first run in the second inning, then used a two-run single to push the margin to 3-0 after three. The Bung Hammers used consecutive singles by Wenceel Perez and Parker Meadows in the fourth frame off Loons starter Jose Martinez, but an untimely inning-ending double-play grounder by Andre Lipcius ended the opportunity. Consecutive extra-base hits off Arriera in the fifth brought another run home for Great Lakes as they extended their advantage to 4-0. The ‘Caps put together only four hits through the first six innings but in the seventh Lipcius stroked a one-out single. One batter later, as the rain began to fall, Bung Hammer catcher Cooper Johnson deposited a home run over the left-field fence to close the deficit to 4-2. Reliever Yaya Chentouf came on in the middle innings for Beer City and pitched three brilliant innings of baseball, allowing only two hits, no runs, and tallying four strikeouts to maintain the score until the final stanza. In the ninth, the Loons Chris Roller put the game out of reach with a two-run home run off reliever Zack Hess, and the Bung Hammers went down in the bottom half of the inning to give the Loons the victory.
Arriera (3-8) pitched better than the numbers indicated, giving up seven hits and four runs in five innings, but only one run earned. Arriera did not walk a batter and struck out seven in the defeat. Martinez, whose only loss of the year came against Beer City in late-April, improved his record with 6.2 innings of five-hit, two-run baseball, striking out a season-high eight. Lipcius reached base twice with two singles of the six hits total for the Bung Hammers. Johnson’s home run was his first of his pro career. Only three runs have crossed the plate in the last 27 innings for Beer City, as they drop their third straight and fall to 34-69 on the year, and 13-21 in the second half. Great Lakes, who punched their ticket to the playoffs by winning the Eastern Division first-half, improves to 64-38 and 20-14 since the All-Star break.
This three-game series against the Great Lakes Loons continues Sunday evening at 6:00 pm. Pitcher Austin Sodders gets the start for West Michigan against the Loons Jack Little. 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 visiting www.whitecapsbaseball.com.