COMSTOCK PARK, MI - The West Michigan Whitecaps suffered another tough loss on Monday night, dropping the rubber match of a three-game series by an 8-3 score to the Quad Cities River Bandits at Fifth Third Ballpark.
West Michigan (13-16) ended the interdivisional homestand against the top two teams in the Western Division with a 3-3 record, winning two out of three against first-place Cedar Rapids before losing two out of three against second-place Quad Cities (18-11).
For the second straight day, the ballgame was marred by Whitecaps' walks and controversial umpiring.
After falling behind 3-0, the 'Caps charged back into the game in the sixth inning following the departure of Quad Cities starter Colton Cain.
Singles by Devon Travis - who extended his hitting streak to a league-best 16 games - and Jeff Holm started the rally for West Michigan, who had managed just three hits through the first five innings. One out later, Mario Martinez chipped in with a run-scoring bounce-out while Jared Reaves added a two-out single that plated Holm to bring the Whitecaps to within 3-2.
In the seventh, singles by Austin Schotts and David Gonzalez and a walk to Travis loaded the bases with just one out. With a chance to erase the one-run deficit, Holm ripped a hard grounder to the second baseman. As Austin Elkins started the 4-6-3 double play, shortstop Joe Sclafani's throw to first base appeared to be bobbled momentarily by Jesse Wierzbicki. The Whitecaps erupted in protest immediately after the out call was made, but base umpire Ryan Simmons maintained his decision as the potential game-tying run was prevented from scoring.
Just moments later, the game got away from West Michigan in the top of the eighth.
The inning started with consecutive walks by Edgar De La Rosa, a sequence that included the ejection of pitching coach Mike Henneman during a visit to the mound. The River Bandits had runners at the corners with one out when Ryan Dineen dragged a squeeze-bunt to the right side of the infield to score a run, and more controversy broke out when he was called safe at first. Things unraveled from there, as the inning continued with an RBI-single, a run-scoring groundout, another walk and a two-run triple as Quad Cities blew the game open with five runs to seize an 8-2 lead.
The West Michigan pitching staff issued seven free passes in the ballgame, totaling 19 walks over the last two games of the series. The Whitecaps lost both games and finished the homestand at 3-3 despite winning three of the first four games.
Schotts capped a 3-for-4 night with a leadoff triple in the ninth, scoring on a sacrifice fly by Gonzalez to cement the 8-3 final.
Cain (1-3) earned the win with five impressive innings, allowing three singles and no runs. The lefty struck out three and issued one walk while throwing just 54 pitches to claim his first victory of the season.
Charlie Gillies (0-1) suffered the loss in his Midwest League debut, allowing two runs - one earned - on three hits over 2.2 frames. The right-hander from California struck out four and walked one on a limited pitch count.
The Whitecaps have Tuesday off before embarking on a nine-game, three-city road trip that begins at 8:05 p.m. ET on Wednesday night against Bowling Green. LHP Jordan John (0-2, 4.91) is scheduled to start for West Michigan against LHP Blake Snell (1-2, 2.75) of the Hot Rods. The Whitecaps' next home game at Fifth Third Ballpark will be on Friday, May 17, at 6:35 p.m. featuring an Avisail Garcia bobblehead doll giveaway for the first 1,000 fans. 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.