The West Michigan Whitecaps rallied behind a strong spot-start from Sandel De La Cruz and cruised to a 3-2 victory over the Lake County Captains in front of 5,440 fans Monday night at Fifth Third Ballpark.
Making just his third start of the season, De La Cruz tossed 4.2 innings, giving up just one earned run, scattering four hits and striking out a season-high seven. The 78 pitches thrown by De La Cruz represented a season-high for the right-hander.
The Whitecaps managed three singles and a walk through the first three innings off Captains starter Ethan Hankins but failed to plate a run. In a scoreless tie that reached the fourth inning, Lake County had their best scoring opportunity with two on and one out, but De La Cruz used consecutive strikeouts to end the Captains threat. West Michigan broke the deadlock in their fourth frame as Parker Meadows lead off with a single. Bryant Packard walked, and Andre Lipcius gave the ‘Caps a 1-0 advantage with an RBI-single. The lead stretched to 2-0 two batters later as Jack Kenley brought Packard home with a single. After Zach Malis walked to load the bases, Wenceel Perez lifted a sacrifice fly to score Lipcius and bring the score to 3-0. Lake County closed the deficit to 3-1 with a Bo Naylor RBI-double in the fifth and which ended the day for De La Cruz. With a 3-1 lead entering the ninth, the ‘Caps closer Angel Reyes relinquished a one-out RBI-double to bring the score to 3-2.
Reyes buckled down to induce a groundout and ended the game with a swinging strikeout to preserve to victory. Sam McMillan had three of the ‘Caps ten hits, and Parker Meadows extended his season-best hitting streak to eight games. Kenley and Packard collected two hits in the ‘Caps second straight win against Lake County and now have four wins through six games of the homestand. The ‘Caps home stand success is due in no small to a pitching staff that has combined for a team ERA of 2.25.
Yaya Chentouf (3-5) pitched 2.1 innings of hitless, no-run baseball for the win in one of his best performances of 2019. Chentouf struck out two and did not allow a base runner. Reyes earned his fifth save of the season in his one inning of work. Hankins (0-2) lasted only 3.1 innings in suffering the defeat for Lake County, allowing three earned runs, six hits, three walks and striking out five. West Michigan improves to 42-83 on the season while sporting a second-half record of 21-35. Lake County, headed to the Midwest League playoffs for the first time since 2010, falls to 68-57 overall and evened their second half standing to 28-28.
The Whitecaps conclude this seven-game homestand against the Lake County Captains from Fifth Third Ballpark Tuesday night at 7:05 pm. Righty Robbie Welhaf makes the start for the ‘Caps against Captains pitcher Eli Lingos. Broadcast coverage with Dan Hasty and Mike Coleman 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.