COMSTOCK PARK, MI - The West Michigan Whitecaps appeared on their way to victory after plating four runs in the fifth inning on Tuesday afternoon, but the bullpen faltered late in an 8-5 loss to the Lake County Captains at Fifth Third Ballpark.
West Michigan (7-9) tallied 10 hits on Tuesday, led by a 3-for-4 effort from Jake Stewart and two-hit games from David Gonzalez and Danry Vasquez. Lake County (6-12) countered with a dozen hits, half of which came during the final two innings as the Captains rallied for five late runs.
The two clubs will meet in the rubber match of the three-game series on Wednesday at Noon.
The Whitecaps were trailing 3-0 before sending eight men to the plate during a four-run fifth inning. The bases were loaded with one out when Gonzalez lined an RBI-single through the left side and Vasquez followed by dumping a two-run single into left field to tie the score. After a double steal moved runners to second and third, Devon Travis lifted a sacrifice fly to right field that plated Gonzalez for a 4-3 lead.
The West Michigan bullpen held for a few innings, stranding potential game-tying runners at third base in both the sixth and seventh frames. In the eighth, however, the Captains were able to break through against reliever Angel Nesbitt.
After a strikeout to start the frame, Nesbitt gave up a single to Eric Haase and a double to Jorge Martinez as Lake County reapplied the pressure. Erik Gonzalez followed by bouncing a double inside the third base bag that scored both runners as the Captains recaptured a 5-4 edge.
The Whitecaps had the heart of their order due up in the bottom of the eighth, but singles by Vasquez and Jeff Holm were undermined by a double play ball off the bat of Travis that nipped the rally in the bud.
Lake County piled on in the top of the ninth when Luigi Rodriguez clubbed a two-run homer and Haase added a solo shot to make it 8-4.
Stewart capped his three-hit day with a leadoff triple in the ninth, coming around to score on a groundout for the 8-5 final.
Michael Peoples (1-0) earned the win out of the Captains' bullpen, throwing 2.1 scoreless frames to shut down the Whitecaps after their fifth-inning outburst.
Nesbitt (0-1) suffered the loss for West Michigan after giving up five runs on six hits and a pair of homers over 2.1 innings.
The Whitecaps wrap up their homestand with the finale of a three-game series against the Lake County Captains on Wednesday afternoon at 12:00 p.m. at Fifth Third Ballpark. RHP Edgar De La Rosa (1-0, 5.87) is scheduled to take the hill for West Michigan against RHP Joe Colon (0-0, 2.45) of the Captains. As Dollar Days continue at Fifth Third Ballpark, the ballgame will feature $1 Pepsi products. Group and individual tickets can be reserved by calling the Whitecaps front office at 616-784-4131 or visiting www.whitecapsbaseball.com.
Click here to view the box score.