Robert Klinchock provided six impressive innings on the mound, but the West Michigan Whitecaps offense found no traction in a 1-0 shutout at the hands of the Fort Wayne TinCaps in front of a home finale crowd of 8,377 Tuesday night at Fifth Third Ballpark.
Klinchock, who scuffled in his Whitecaps debut August 21 at Great Lakes, gave up four earned runs and seven hits in four innings in his first start. The lefty proved vastly more effective in his second start, scattering five hits and giving up only one earned run. The ‘Caps offense could not manufacture the big base hit, leaving the bases loaded on two separate occasions.
West Michigan came through with three hits through the first two innings off Fort Wayne starter Efrain Contreras but came away empty. The TinCaps squandered their best early chance of the game in the second inning by loading the bases on consecutive singles and a hit batsman, but Klinchock induced a double play lineout to squash the rally. The game’s lone run came in the fifth when a Juwaun Harris RBI-single gave Fort Wayne a 1-0 advantage. The best chance for the ‘Caps came in their fifth frame. Singles from Danny Reyes and Dayton Dugas followed by a walk to Jack Kenley loaded the bases with only one out. A grounder off the bat of Wenceel Perez created a force out at home plate, and Sam McMillan grounded out to end the inning. In the eighth inning, the ‘Caps again loaded the bases with two outs on three walks, but Danny Reyes grounded out as the TinCaps came away with the victory to even the four-game series at two wins each. Despite the loss, West Michigan has won or tied the last four series, their best stretch in 2019. The Whitecaps managed only five hits in the loss with Dugas the only ‘Caps recording a multi-hit night with two singles. West Michigan left nine on the base paths and went 0-5 with runners in scoring position.
Klinchock (0-1), the 35th round draft pick out of Shenandoah University in the 2019 draft, suffered the hard-luck loss, striking out three in notching the longest outing of his brief career. Zac Shepherd, the converted outfielder, tossed three innings of one-hit, shutout baseball for West Michigan in the loss. Contreras (6-5) worked five innings to pick up the win for Fort Wayne, allowing five singles, walking one and striking out three. West Michigan slips to 46-87 overall in 2019 and 25-39 in the Midwest League’s second-half standings. Fort Wayne improved to 60-72 and 27-37 in the back-half of the 2019 season.
The Whitecaps finish the regular season with a six-game roadtrip beginning with a three-game series against the Lansing Lugnuts on Wednesday night 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 Lansing righty Sean Wymer. Tickets are available for any Whitecaps 2020 home contest by calling the Whitecaps front office at 616-784-4131 or by visiting www.whitecapsbaseball.com.