The West Michigan Whitecaps fell behind in the opening inning but recovered brilliantly in a 7-6 win over the Great Lakes Loons Wednesday night at Dow Diamond.
The Whitecaps bullpen proved spectacular with five innings of one-run baseball with eight strikeouts to keep the Loons at bay while West Michigan exploded for six runs in the fifth to take the victory.
Pitcher Robert Klinchok made his Midwest League debut, and ran into first inning misfortune, as the lefty gave up a solo home run to James Outman on his first pitch of the contest. RBI-doubles by Brandon Lewis and Luke Heyer – the latter of which was a line drive lost in the sun by outfielder Riley Greene for a two-run double to give Great Lakes a 4-0 lead.
The Whitecaps trailed 5-1 heading into a fifth inning in which they sent 11 batters to the plate in turning their deficit upside-down. Sam McMillan sparked the rally with one of his best swings of the season with a two-run double before run-scoring singles by Parker Meadows and Bryant Packard helped tie the ballgame at five and chased Loons starter Stephen Kolek from the contest. Andre Lipcius followed with a two-run double to give West Michigan a 7-5 lead and complete the six-run frame.
Meanwhile, the ‘Caps bullpen entered the ballgame with pitcher Jose Vasquez (2-5) in the fifth, who tossed three scoreless frames while striking out four en route to his second win of the season. Zack Hess followed to pitch the final two innings with his lone blemish being a solo home run by James Outman – his second of the game – to strike out four and record his fifth save in six tries.
Kolek (7-8) gave up seven runs in 4.1 innings in taking his eighth loss of the season. The Whitecaps season record improves to 43-84 in 2019 and 22-36 in the second-half standings. Great Lakes falls to 32-26 and 75-50. Lipcius led the way with a 3-for-4 performance in the victory, while McMillan, Packard and Wenceel Perez each contributed two hits apiece. The victory marked the first time in Great Lakes franchise history that the team lost a ballgame donning the alter-ego of the “Great Lakes Camels.” They had won their first ten games under the ‘Camels’ moniker.
The Whitecaps continue this three-game series against the Great Lakes Loons from Dow Diamond Thursday at 7:05 pm. Broadcast coverage with Dan Hasty begins on the Whitecaps Baseball Network at 6:55 pm. Carson Lance makes the start for West Michigan against Loons righty Kevin Malisheski. 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.