BELOIT, WI - The West Michigan Whitecaps missed out on another opportunity to get back to .500 on Monday night when a tightly contested pitchers' duel unraveled late into a sloppy 6-1 loss to the Beloit Snappers at Pohlman Field.
West Michigan (10-12), who has been under .500 since April 16, has now lost six straight chances to get back to the break-even mark. They will look to salvage a .500 road trip on Tuesday afternoon when they take on Beloit (10-11) in the rubber match of the three-game series.
Monday's game was defined by pitching and defense for most of the night until things unraveled in the seventh inning.
Trailing 3-0, the Whitecaps mounted their most serious threat in the top of the frame. Lance Durham and Zach Kirksey opened the inning with back-to-back singles, and a pair of hit batsmen with one out forced in a run while chasing Beloit starter Raul Alcantara from the game.
Within two runs and with the bases loaded, however, the 'Caps were shut down by reliever Ryan Dull. The Snappers' right-hander struck out Austin Schotts and induced a bounce-out from David Gonzalez to strand the bases loaded and stifle the threat.
In the bottom of the seventh, Beloit pulled away with three gift runs that crossed the plate without the benefit of a hit.
Edgar De La Rosa walked the first two batters of the inning on a total of nine pitches. Ryan Matthews laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners along, but De La Rosa fielded the bunt and made an errant throw to first as one run came home. The right-hander struck out Aaron Shipman and proceeded to intentionally walk Brett Vertigan, but his fourth intentional ball sailed wildly over the catcher's head as a second run scored. Daniel Robertson followed with a sacrifice fly, capping a three-run rally that consisted of three walks, a throwing error and a wild pitch as Beloit seized a 6-1 lead.
Alcantara (3-1) earned the win for the Snappers with a season-high eight strikeouts over 6.1 impressive innings. He dominated the game early, retiring 13 of the first 14 batters he faced and striking out half of them. Though he wore down as the game went on, he was able to battle through it and minimize the damage. Alcantara allowed one run on six hits without issuing a walk.
The right-hander also benefitted from a pair of jaw-dropping defensive plays by shortstop prospect Daniel Robertson. The 19-year-old robbed Adolfo Reina of a hit in the fifth inning, going deep into the hole at shortstop to make a back-handed pick and lofting a jump-throw across the diamond for a spectacular out. He was at it again in the sixth when Devon Travis singled up the middle with David Gonzalez at second. After making a diving play behind second base to snare the grounder, Robertson quickly popped up and fired to third - where Gonzalez had rounded the bag and suddenly became the third out of the inning.
Robertson also went 1-for-3 at the plate with two RBI.
Dull (3) earned the save with four strikeouts over 2.2 perfect innings. After stranding all three of his inherited runners in the seventh, he quickly retired all eight of the batters he faced to finish the ballgame.
Yorfrank Lopez (2-1) suffered the loss for West Michigan despite allowing just three hits over five innings. He struck out three without issuing a walk, but two of the three hits against him were solo home runs. De La Rosa pitched the last three frames and was charged with four runs - two earned - on two hits and five walks.
The Whitecaps wrap up their six-game swing through Wisconsin with the finale of a three-game series against the Beloit Snappers at 12:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday afternoon at Pohlman Field. RHP Montreal Robertson (1-2, 4.35) is scheduled to take the hill for West Michigan against RHP Michael Ynoa (0-0, 0.82) of the Snappers. The 'Caps return to Fifth Third Ballpark on Wednesday for a 6:35 p.m. first pitch, and fans are encouraged to wear orange on 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.
Click here to view the box score.