BELOIT, WI - Mario Martinez homered and drove in three runs as the West Michigan Whitecaps won the first game of a three-game series, 5-3, over the Beloit Snappers on Sunday afternoon at Pohlman Field.
West Michigan (10-11) took a first-inning lead and held on from there, improving to 2-2 through the first four games of their six-game road trip through the state of Wisconsin. Beloit (9-11) applied pressure throughout the afternoon but stranded 12 runners on base as their rallies repeatedly came up short.
The key sequence came between the third and the sixth innings when the Snappers stranded 11 of their 12 men on base. They left the bases loaded in three of those four frames and had a runner at third base with less than two outs on each occasion, but managed just two runs during the stretch. One of the big plays came with men at the corners and nobody out in the fourth, when David Gonzalez made a spectacular diving catch at shortstop to take away a potential run-scoring single. Beloit failed to score in the inning.
Meanwhile, the Whitecaps jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first. With men at first and second and two outs, Lance Durham stroked an RBI-single to right field. A second run came around to score on an error by right fielder John Wooten as the 'Caps took a 2-0 advantage.
The seventh and eighth hitters in the lineup provided West Michigan's only offense from that point forward. Bennett Pickar went 3-for-4 with two doubles and two runs scored while Mario Martinez was 1-for-3 with his first home run of the year and three RBI.
The Whitecaps' lead was just 2-1 when Pickar smacked his first double with two outs in the top of the fourth. Martinez followed with a towering fly to center field that sailed over the fence for a home run, making it a 4-1 ballgame.
It was 4-2 in the sixth when Pickar collected another two-base hit and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Martinez drove him home with a sacrifice fly to give West Michigan a valuable insurance run and a 5-2 lead.
Brennan Smith (1-0) earned the win out of the bullpen after entering the game in the sixth inning. Though he allowed the first two batters he faced to reach base - issuing a bases-loaded walk that allowed an inherited runner to score - the 23-year-old righty settled down and threw 1.2 scoreless innings.
Angel Nesbitt added a perfect eighth inning and Jose Valdez (4) struck out a pair in the ninth to lock down the save.
After the Snappers' last threat in the sixth inning, the Whitecaps' bullpen did not allow a runner to reach scoring position the rest of the way.
Kris Hall (1-1) took the loss for Beloit after being charged with four runs - three earned - on five hits over four innings of work.
The Whitecaps continue a six-game swing through Wisconsin with the middle game of a three-game series against the Beloit Snappers at 7:35 p.m. ET on Monday night at Pohlman Field. RHP Yorfrank Lopez (2-0, 4.73) is scheduled to take the hill for West Michigan against RHP Raul Alcantara (2-1, 3.68) of the Snappers. The next home game at Fifth Third Ballpark will be at 6:35 p.m. on Wednesday, May 1, when fans are encouraged to wear orange for Dutch Day at the Ballpark. Group and individual tickets can be reserved by calling the Whitecaps front office at 616-784-4131 or visiting www.whitecapsbaseball.com.
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