COMSTOCK PARK, MI - The West Michigan Whitecaps' bats struggled Sunday afternoon in a 4-1 loss to the Dayton Dragons at Fifth Third Ballpark in the finale of a four-game series.
The Whitecaps won the first two games of the series before a slumping offense combined to score only four runs in back-to-back defeats.
West Michigan (2-2) scraped out only four hits - all singles -- and didn't have a runner reach second base until the ninth inning when the lone run was scored.
Trailing 4-0 in the ninth, Jared Reaves reached second with one out after Dayton center fielder Junior Arias dropped a long fly ball. Danry Vasquez followed with a single and Devon Travis brought Reaves home with a sacrifice fly.
West Michigan batters struck out 11 times against Dayton pitching for the fourth straight game. Dayton starter Sal Romano fanned six Whitecaps in picking up the win. He tossed six shutout innings and allowed only three hits.
West Michigan starter Jordan John was tagged with the loss after scattering eight hits through six innings and allowing three earned runs. He struck out three and didn't walk a batter.
Dayton (2-2) took a 1-0 lead in the third inning as John surrendered back-to-back hits with two outs. The Dragons went up 3-0 in the sixth by adding a pair of two-out runs.
John nearly got out of the sixth-inning jam unscathed after allowing the first two runners of the inning to reach. He got a force out at third, and then after a close safe call at third on a double steal, he struck out Jesse Winkler. However, Seth Mejias-Brean singled past the glove of first baseman Lance Durham to push two runs across the plate.
Brennan Smith pitched three solid innings and gave up one run on three hits. Vasquez, Michael Hernandez, Jeff Holm and Jake Stewart each had one hit for West Michigan.
The Whitecaps continue their season-opening seven-game homestand Monday afternoon as the Fort Wayne TinCaps come to town for a three-game series. First pitch is noon. RHP Edgar De La Rosa is scheduled to take the mound for West Michigan, while RHP Erik Cabrera gets the nod for the TinCaps. It will be JQ99 All Faiths Day with fans who bring in a community or church bulletin getting half off reserved or box seats. Group and individual tickets can be reserved by calling 616-784-4131 or visiting whitecapsbaseball.com.