The Whitecaps pounded out 15 hits on Sunday afternoon to beat the Dayton Dragons, 6-4, at Fifth Third Ballpark, putting them in position to earn a series sweep heading into the final game of the regular season at 1:00 p.m. on Monday afternoon.
West Michigan (36-33, 72-67) has earned a finish above .500 in each half and will likely end the season with the third-best record in the Eastern Division despite not being one of the four playoff qualifiers.
After making franchise history with 20 strikeouts in a nine-inning win on Saturday night, the 'Caps did their damage with the bats on Sunday afternoon. Chad Wright, Pat Leyland and Brandon Loy all put together three-hit games for West Michigan, who collected nine of their 15 hits against 2011 Cincinnati Reds' first-rounder Robert Stephenson.
Lance Durham got the rally started in the bottom of the second, smacking a double to center field that scored Jason King all the way from first. Later in the frame, Zach Maggard blasted a double high off the left field wall to plate two more runs and put the Whitecaps in front, 3-0.
West Michigan added a pair of unearned runs in the third inning after a one-out error by the shortstop allowed Jeff McVaney to reach base. McVaney scored from second when King lashed a single to right-center, and Leyland added a double to left that plated King for a 5-0 lead.
Whitecaps' starter Jeff Ferrell carried the shutout into the fifth inning before Dayton broke through against the right-hander.
The highlight was a two-run homer by Junior Arias, a laser to left field that drilled the manual scoreboard and knocked out the panel representing the top of the first inning. Despite the noteworthy blast, however, the Dragons could not get closer than a 5-4 deficit.
Eugenio Suarez gave the 'Caps some cushion in the sixth, driving a run-scoring triple to left to notch his league-leading 147th hit and cement the 6-4 final.
Ferrell (7-5) earned the win in his final start of the year, pitching five innings and allowing three runs on five hits. Three of the hits and all of the runs came as he worked through his final frame in the fifth.
Following Ferrell's departure, Guido Knudson allowed one unearned run on one hit over three frames in his Midwest League debut. Michael Torrealba (5) added a scoreless ninth inning to earn the save.
Stephenson (2-4) took the loss for Dayton, charged with five runs - three earned - on nine hits over four innings.
The Whitecaps conclude the regular season with their final game of the year at 1:00 p.m. on Monday afternoon at Fifth Third Ballpark against the Dayton Dragons. RHP Chad Smith (0-2, 4.35) is scheduled to take the mound for West Michigan against LHP Ismael Guillon (1-0, 2.55) of Dayton on a JQ 99-FM All Faith's Day. Group and individual tickets can be reserved by calling the Whitecaps front office at 616-784-4131 or visiting www.whitecapsbaseball.com.