Pitcher Wilkel Hernandez rebounded from a tough start in his last outing and gave the West Michigan Whitecaps an impressive six innings of work as the West Michigan Whitecaps defeated the Lake County Captains 4-2 on Sunday afternoon in front of 7,096 at Fifth Third Ballpark.
Hernandez could not escape the first inning in his last start on August 12 — coincidentally against Lake County — allowing five earned runs and six hits in absorbing the loss. Sunday’s start proved very different as Hernandez did not allow a base hit until a two-run single in the fourth inning and two hits overall with seven strikeouts on the day.
The Whitecaps took a 1-0 lead in the second inning off Captains starter Matt Turner as a bases-loaded walk to Cooper Johnson forced home Bryant Packard from third base. The score increased to 2-0 in the third frame as a Corey Joyce single and a Packard walk set the table for Andre Lipcius, who delivered an RBI-single. Lake County came right back in their fourth. A walk from Hernandez and a fielding error by Zach Malis placed runners on second and third.
Daniel Schneemann cleared the bases with a two-run single to tie the game. The ‘Caps fifth created some excitement for the Fifth Third Faithful as Riley Greene began the inning off with a single, moved up two bases after a wild pitch and scored on a late break to home plate after Packard bounced a ground out to the right side of the infield. The hustle play by Greene extended the lead to 4-2, and after Lipcius laced a double to right-center field, Danny Reyes drove Lipcius home with a single to give the Whitecaps the 4-2 margin. Zac Shepherd came on in relief for the Whitecaps to contribute 1.2 innings of one-hit bullpen work. Zack Hess closed out the contest recording the last four Captains to capture his 4th save of 2019 and give the Whitecaps their third win in four games and a victory in the second game of the four-game series.
Hernandez (8-7) increased his team lead in wins with the victory. Both runs scored against Hernandez were unearned. Kyle Marman (4-4) suffered the loss in relief, tossing two innings, allowing three hits and two earned runs. Turner lasted only four innings for Lake County, scattering five hits, walking three and giving up two earned runs. Lipcius and Reyes each contributed two hits as West Michigan out-hit Lake County 8-3. Reyes extended a season-high hitting streak to nine games while hits by Malis and Meadows pushed their hitting streaks to eight and seven games respectively. Packard and Johnson each walked three times in the contest. Whitecaps pitching boasts a combined ERA of 2.30 through five games of the seven-game homestand, where they have gone 3-2. West Michigan improves to 41-83 on the year while the playoff-bound Lake County Captains slide to 68-56 with the loss.
The Whitecaps play the third game of this four-game set against the Lake County Captains from Fifth Third Ballpark Monday night at 7:05 pm. Righty Sandel De La Cruz takes a spot-start for the ‘Caps against Captains hurler Ethan Hankins. 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.