BELOIT, WI - The West Michigan Whitecaps never recovered from an ugly start on Tuesday afternoon, dropping the rubber match of a three-game series, 9-5, to the Beloit Snappers at Pohlman Field.
West Michigan (10-13) finished their six-game road swing through the state of Wisconsin with a 2-4 record, losing two out of three games to the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers to start the trip and the Beloit Snappers (11-11) to end it.
Whitecaps' starter Montreal Robertson (1-3) struggled out of the gate on Tuesday, digging his team an early hole that proved too deep to overcome. The right-hander from Arkansas allowed five runs on five hits and four walks in just two innings of work. The first two runs that crossed the plate against him scored on a wild pitch and a bases-loaded walk, and by the time Robertson was removed from the game with nobody out in the third inning he had missed the strike zone with 34 of his 64 pitches.
Meanwhile, Beloit starter Michael Ynoa - a bonus baby signed by the Oakland Athletics for $4.25 million dollars in 2008 - showed off his prospect status with a deadly fastball-changeup combination that was inhibited only by his own command. Ynoa was removed after three innings due to a limited pitch count, allowing one run on one hit and two walks.
By the time the starters were out of the ballgame, the Snappers held a commanding 5-1 lead.
The margin increased in the fifth when Beloit put together a two-out rally against Julio Felix. Nick Rickles stroked a run-scoring single up the middle, and two batters later Brett Vertigan clubbed a two-run double to center that gave the Snappers a healthy 8-1 advantage.
West Michigan fought back to make it a ballgame, scoring four unanswered runs in the sixth and seventh innings to give Beloit a scare.
Jeff Holm started the comeback with an RBI-single in the sixth and Mario Martinez led off the seventh inning with his second home run of the series. Later in the seventh, there were runners at the corners and two outs when Holm golfed another run-scoring single to right field that skipped past John Wooten for an error. That allowed a second run to score on the play as the 'Caps pulled within 8-5. Lance Durham then drew a walk that brought the potential game-tying run to the plate, but Danry Vasquez flew out to the warning track in center field to end the threat.
That was as close as West Michigan could get. Tucker Healy (1) took over in the eighth and cruised through the final two innings for his first save of the year, increasing his impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio to 15 strikeouts without a free pass this season.
Teammate Chris Lamb (1-0) earned the win with two scoreless innings out of the bullpen as the first Snappers' reliever to enter the game.
Bright spots for West Michigan included a 3-for-5, two-RBI game from Holm, while Jake Stewart was 2-for-5 with two runs scored and Martinez gave the Whitecaps their fifth home run during the six-game road trip. Relievers Josh Turley and Angel Nesbitt also pitched well out of the bullpen.
Vertigan led the way for Beloit, going 3-for-5 with two doubles and three RBI to lead the Snappers' 12-hit attack.
The Whitecaps return to Fifth Third Ballpark to open a six-game homestand on Wednesday night with a 6:35 p.m. first pitch against the Cedar Rapids Kernels. RHP Hudson Randall (2-2, 0.87) is scheduled to take the hill for West Michigan against LHP Brett Lee (2-0, 2.13) of the Kernels 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.