PEORIA, IL - The West Michigan Whitecaps fell short in their bid for a series sweep on Monday afternoon, falling behind early and striking out a season-high 19 times in a 7-3 loss to the Peoria Chiefs at Dozer Park.
Despite the loss, West Michigan (15-15, 48-52) wrapped up their road trip with a 3-3 record while ending their 24-game interdivisional schedule with a 12-12 mark against the Western Division. Peoria (15-15, 53-44) jumped out to an early 7-0 lead and withstood the Whitecaps' subsequent rally thanks in large part to the flurry of strikeouts.
Chiefs' right-hander Cory Jones (7-1) won his fifth consecutive start and struck out a career-high 12 batters over six innings without issuing a walk. Reliever Dixon Llorens took over in the seventh and recorded all six of his outs on swinging strikeouts before Zach Russell finished the punch-out barrage with a game-ending strikeout in the ninth.
The 19 strikeouts, 15 of which were swinging, were the most by the Whitecaps' offense in a game this season and nearly set a new franchise record. On July 9, 2005, West Michigan struck out 20 times in a game against the Clinton LumberKings. The Peoria pitching staff struck out the side four times, registered multiple punch-outs in six of the nine innings, and at one point recorded nine consecutive outs via strikeouts. Every Whitecaps batter struck out at least once on Monday while five different hitters fanned at least three times.
To make matters worse, the Chiefs plated three runs in the first inning and seized a 7-0 lead by the third. Patrick Wisdom did the bulk of the damage, lining a two-run single in the first inning and clubbing a two-run double in the third during a 2-for-4, four-RBI afternoon.
Montreal Robertson (2-5) was charged with all of the runs and took the loss. He allowed seven runs on eight hits over five frames, striking out one without issuing a walk.
Despite the early deficit, West Michigan rallied during the middle innings to get back into the ballgame.
Connor Harrell and Adolfo Reina each doubled and scored in the fifth inning, while a Jason King homer in the sixth suddenly cut the deficit to 7-3. But Jones and Llorens combined to strike out seven of the next eight batters to prevent the 'Caps from getting any closer.
King and Harrell each had three hits to carry the offense. Harrell reached base in all four of his plate appearances and went 6-for-11 during the three-game series. King was 3-for-4 with his seventh home run of the year and is now batting .377 over his last 17 games.
The Whitecaps have Tuesday off before returning to Fifth Third Ballpark for a brief three-game homestand that begins with a 7:00 p.m. first pitch on Wednesday night against the Fort Wayne TinCaps. RHP Edgar De La Rosa (5-3, 6.69) is scheduled to pitch for West Michigan against RHP Zach Eflin (4-5, 3.17) of the TinCaps. The game will feature a fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House and post-game fireworks presented by Family Fare. 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.