DAYTON, OH - Edgar De La Rosa dealt five scoreless innings and the West Michigan Whitecaps cracked two big home runs in a 6-1 win over the Dayton Dragons on Monday night at Fifth Third Field.
Four West Michigan (26-28, 59-65) pitchers held Dayton (31-26, 59-67) to just one run and the Whitecaps' offense continued to hit home runs at a near-record pace. With two more bombs on Monday, the big-hitting West Michigan offense is now on pace to blast 93 home runs this season as they continue to flirt with the franchise record of 94 belted in 2004.
But it was pitching that set the tone on Monday.
De La Rosa (7-6) got it started with five shutout frames, scattering seven hits and striking out five. He did not issue a walk and all seven of the hits he allowed were singles. He got some help in the third when shortstop David Gonzalez made a spectacular run-saving over-the-shoulder catch on a ball flared into shallow left-center, but it was a fifth-inning jam that really tested his mettle.
Running out of gas, De La Rosa fell behind each of the first two batters of the inning with 3-0 counts before battling back to induce pop-outs. He then yielded three straight two-out singles to load the bases, with a strong throw to the plate by left fielder Raph Rhymes ensuring the lead runner did not score on the last of the three hits. Facing a bases-loaded jam, De La Rosa induced an inning-ending pop-out from Jeff Gelalich on his next pitch to grind through the inning and complete his scoreless outing.
Meanwhile, a pair of big longballs led the offense.
Austin Green blasted his first homer in a Whitecaps' uniform in the third inning, drilling a two-run shot over the left field fence to put West Michigan on top. Those turned out to be the only runs scored until the bottom of the seventh, when Dayton's Zach Vincej lifted a solo homer to left that cut the lead to 2-1.
Moments later, the 'Caps blew the game open in the top of the eighth. After loading the bases with one out, Dean Green lifted a sacrifice fly to the warning track in left. On the very next pitch, Connor Harrell blasted a no-doubt three-run homer to left that provided a comfortable 6-1 cushion.
Following De La Rosa's strong start, the relief combination of Josh Turley, Guido Knudson and Corey Knebel combined to retire 12 of the 13 batters they faced, with the home run by Vincej against Turley representing the lone exception.
Ismael Guillon (5-8) suffered the loss for Dayton despite a solid outing. The talented left-hander was charged with two runs on four hits over six innings, striking out three and walking one.
The Whitecaps continue a seven-game road trip on Tuesday night with a 7:00 p.m. first pitch against the Dayton Dragons at Fifth Third Field. RHP Jake Thompson (2-3, 3.38) is scheduled to pitch for West Michigan against RHP Nick Travieso (7-3, 4.73) for Dayton. The next home game at Fifth Third Ballpark will be on Saturday, August 24, at 7:00 p.m. featuring a slew of promotions including Team Ghostriders, a mini-bat giveaway and Family Fare fireworks. 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.